What Am I Working On? February 26th

It’s been a while since I made one of these update posts, haven’t it? Most of it has to do with me not going on vacation for a while, but some of it has to do with it not having a lot of inspiration to sit down and write. I’m not sure if that’s worth apologizing for. If anything, I won’t talk about the stuff I have written or anything, but I will say this: I’ll be going away, and I think that a change of scenery will help me out.

I have some good stuff going for me right now, although I’m at the point where I need to ask others about where to take my stories. That’s one of the things I’m worried about as I’m worried about my shortcomings being completely exposed and I’m seen as a hack who has no idea what I’m doing. I’m seeing somebody about this predicament about my mindset.

Another thing I’m working to get over is that it’s okay to be a guy who makes meaningless fluff, like the Michael Bay Transformers movies. I think part of that comes from watching movie reviews on YouTube where they always talk about things like cinematography, character motivation, themes, and that fun stuff. And here I am thinking I don’t have any of those things to begin with. To anyone reading, I ask you: Am I overthinking it? Am I looking at the finished product the wrong way? I really think if I can get to the bottom of this, I could make a breakthrough.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of concrete updates as I wanted to get some things off of my chest. I hope I have some better news for you soon.

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Hack Writing

As someone who tries to think of himself as something resembling a writer, I have a lot of things going around in my head. And one of them was Wrath. As my mom talked to me about changes I made regarding my story before we went to go see The Last Jedi, a thought came to me: I’m in over my head, and once I’m exposed, I’ll be known as the hack writer I am. My mom immediately said that I should be more confident in myself in my work and myself and stop being negative. Here’s the thing though: I’m not being negative. I’m being honest with myself. The reason being is that when it comes to writing, you’re not just making a story. You’re creating a world out of basically nothing. And then you’ll get questions about things about your world. And here’s the thing about questions as a creator: You have to have answers because you’re going to be pushed and pushed and pushed. And if you hesitate, you’re fucked because you’ve just exposed yourself as someone who has no idea what they’re writing. Congratulations, you’re a hack just like me. I can show you some places where we can get some great pizza.

And if you have answers, you’re not out of the hack woods yet. If you go ahead and give an answer, only for the person to

  1. Say, “that makes absolutely no sense”
  2. Ask what drugs were you on when you wrote whatever it is you wrote
  3. Asks a shitload more questions upon your answer

Congratulations, you’ve achieved hack writing skills. Again, I know some great places for pizza. At the very least, I can Yelp very well.

You’re probably asking why I’m going in something regarding depth about this? Well, I wrote a movie script, and I think that may be the ultimate destination of my work in some way. And the fact that I’m a hack that doesn’t write about big things or write scripts that can be handed to a director and make it fit into that director’s style and have it look amazing and be thought-provoking and  captivating and in a way where each and every shot is taught in a cinematography class means one thing: I am a hack that shouldn’t be in the business. Sure, directors are the ones that people care about, but I think it could also apply to screenwriters if you’re in tune enough with movies.

If you go into film circle, especially on the Internet, you’ll find that they don’t have very nice things about Michael Bay. The reason being is that he doesn’t make movies that make you think or have you appreciate the art of movie making, Instead, you get hot girls and explosions and over the top action for the sake of having those things without any thought. And that’s what pisses off film critics and filmgoers alike. And that’s what people hope guys like Michael Bay end up having no influence in the long run. Think about The Fast and the Furious movies. Do people remember it for how it shows how the power of friendship can withstand any test and friends can be like a family…or do they remember it for in Vin Diesel, The Rock, and their friends, allies, and enemies doing impossibly and crazily stupid stuff in cars? Same principle: The fact that people will pay money to see these stupid, IQ-draining films instead of something profound like Baby Driver or Get Out or whatever’s gushed about any given week on r/movies shows that I am in a company that every filmgoer loathes.

And that is where I am with Wrath and perhaps the stuff I’m going to write. When you approach me and ask about what my inspiration was or what’s the takeaway, and I struggle for an answer you’ll feel I pulled out of my ass, you’ll know the truth that any writer, director, or anyone who watches movies regularly and know what goes into making a movie knows: a hack writer is just writing what they think would look cool on camera without thinking about anything resembling story structure or plot or themes or character development or character motivation, and I’m part of the plague ruining the film industry.

So, I say: Hello, fellow hacks. I want to make sure you know that everything I write I wrote while clean and sober.

Crash Landing back to Earth

So, I finally got to read some feedback on Wrath, months after I got it. It was pretty good feedback, and I hope to revisit it soon. The main thing was that I had something going in terms of ideas, and all I need to do is develop the world and characters.

And with that, I was exposed. It made me realize that putting it up for sale on Amazon, even for a contest, was a stupid idea. It was, to them, something that read as an undeveloped, hastily made mess. And developing my characters is going to be a challenge and a half because I can’t develop characters if my life depended on it because I barely know anything about relationships, if at all.

Let me explain. I spent a lot of time by myself growing up. Didn’t hang out with friends, didn’t invite anyone to the house, never really went out with anyone, never had a girlfriend…and even when I was with a group, never ate with anyone during lunch, I just felt like the odd man out, like I was hastily taped to a picture as an afterthought. And now, choosing to be something resembling a recluse for pretty much my entire life has come back to bite me in the ass.  How can I be able to make characters like actual people and give them depth if everything I’ve done makes me come across as an antisocial loner?

Oh sure, I could go out and try to make friends and try to connect with people…if I wanted you to feel bad for me with how pathetic I am with trying to connect with people. Let me explain.

When I was in college, and I saw all my classmates with their friends working like teams to make their senior projects and hanging out together like a little family, I started to contemplate and worry about what I was doing with my life, and one of the things I contemplated over was why I didn’t have those connections. Then it clicked to me: They have something I don’t. I firmly believe that when it comes to being social butterflies and easily making friends and being really good roommates to the point where the dwelling runs like a well-oiled machine with amazing efficiency and developing relationships that last, there’s a kind of gene that you’re either born with or you aren’t.

My mom was born with it, my sister was born with it, my grandmother was born with it, and I wasn’t born with it. My psychologist had to tell me that the skills necessary to form relationships and make friends can be learned and just need to be worked on to be both maintained and developed. And to that, I say this: even if I can learn how to develop relationships, it is a pathetic imitation that’s just painful an awkward to see in action. That’s why I say this “social gene” is something you’re born with or aren’t born with. And honestly, I feel like it’d be a better way if you just have to deal, kind of like that time when I was contemplating that first time. You’re either born with the ability to be social and make friends and make lasting relationships or you aren’t. And if you aren’t, you have to deal with that for the rest of your life and your best course of action is to embrace being a loner, not giving a damn if you come across as antisocial, crazy, or whatever. Just be wary that being with people for extended periods of time in a situation like being roommates can cause you trouble, up to and including being classified as “does not work well with others” or “dangerous to self or others”.

And that is why the biggest problem is character development, and that is why this method of improvement petrifies me. I have no basis on which to develop characters and establish relationship dynamics that are based on anything resembling real life, mainly because of trying to avoid anything resembling human to human interaction for years. And that’s not the only fear I have, nor it is the only problem that I received feedback on, but the way I develop actually has the potential to make my stories worse because it’ll only further give an impression that I have no idea what I’m doing.

To any aspiring writers, I have this advice: Make friends. Be social. And hope to God you were born with a social gene. It’ll help you a lot.

Writing About Copyright

Copyright is kind of interesting. I’m pretty sure everyone knows about it even if you don’t give the slightest crap. It’s the thing that gives a creator the legal right to use and distribute it however they wish and shows that they have the legal rights to it and that they own…whatever it is they made. And I could talk about copyright infringement and all that fun stuff, but I’m not a lawyer and it’ll kind of bore me and you.

So let’s talk about my experiences. When I first got into the creative writing mood, I think my mom would say I would have what you could call a bad habit of sharing my ideas and work willy-nilly. And that if I were to share it, and somebody were to make a buttload of money on what I had planned, I had nobody to blame but myself. But in school, I took a class on legal basics for filmmakers, and then I looked online a bit, and I discovered something mind-blowing:

In the United States, once you have the work in a fixed medium, such as written on paper or typed into a word processor, the copyright is yours. And you don’t even need to put a copyright symbol or an All Rights Reserved spiel on the thing. Isn’t that amazing?

The only thing is that you can’t copyright ideas or plans out outlines. And you actually have to register formally if you want to take somebody to court for copyright infringement. Those things I understand, mainly because it’s evidence of authorship that goes beyond family and friends.

So what does this mean for someone like me? Well, I have some short stories on an external hard drive, a screenplay that’s been published but hasn’t gone anywhere near someone that make it an actual movie, and some chapters of a book going for me, so there’s that. And if I ever do get to a point where I can do something, it’s off to registering. And registering. Aregisteringing.

Though the big thing that’ll determine the effictiveness of my copyright navigation is if what I make is even worth stealing.

Wrath Update

Hello there. So, I got back from another contest I entered Wrath into. This time, it’s the New York Screenplay Contest. And I can now say that I have won the Empire Award in the Fantasy film category. Looking at the website, I can say that’s a big deal because I won 2nd prize in that category, which is a pretty big deal. This comes only a few months after I was a category finalist in the action-adventure category in the Las Vegas International Screenwriting Competition.

You’re probably asking why I have accolades in two different genres. One reason is because of the categories some of the contests have to offer while submitting; some contests have more categories than others. The second, and more accurate if you ask me, the reason is because I suck at coming up with genres for my work. Most times, I don’t try to think of genres when I write down my ideas, and even then I wouldn’t say I specialize in any one genre. I mean, Wrath features angels and demons, and the main character has a battle axe that can shoot fire and ignite on command as his weapon. Does that sound like fantasy to you? To me it does. I’m not even well versed to talk about things like high fantasy vs. low fantasy, so I’m not going to go into that because I can’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about.

As for talking this much about a second place finish, I guess I can because I beat out so many people; 1,000 screenplays entered according to the people running this thing. So, I guess you could say this is like winning a silver medal in the Olympics. However, as a competitor, you start to wonder when you’ll get that win and be on top of the mountain. It’s like a Buffalo Bills fan wondering if the early 90s should be remembered by them losing four straight Super Bowls or winning four straight AFC Championships.

So, I guess the big question is if I get a certificate, which means I have to fork over 25 dollars along with a frame for the thing, or spend 125 plus shipping for their Art Glass trophy. A handmade 16-inch solid glass trophy that I need to find a place for and put in a place where I won’t end up breaking it because I’m not what you’d call “super clean” or “super organized”.

But in all seriousness, I’m pretty happy with this result. It always feels good to achieve something. And if you’re interested in the story, feel free to buy a copy of Wrath on Amazon.

What Am I Working On? August 24th, 2017

It’s time for another one of these updates where I talk about what I’m doing in the world of writing. It’s time for another edition of What Am I Working On?. So, Welcome to Life in California has seven of a planned thirteen chapters written. While the future of that may change given I haven’t really shown it to an editor yet or pretty much any eyes aside from mine, who knows if it’ll be something resembling good to someone else? However, the big thing is that I’m over halfway done with the writing for that. Sure by “over half” I mean just 53 percent, but you know, I can say that things aren’t too bad.

Also, according to FilmFreeway, I only have notification dates for September when it comes to how Wrath has done in the screenplay contests I’ve entered. This to me means two things once September ends:

  1. Prepare the script I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for months for submission to contents.
  2. Get Wrath edited again to where I’ll be able to either submit it and do better than I’ve done in the contests I’ve entered previously, or publish again. If I do that, I’ll need to find an illustrator. It sucks not knowing anyone.

Finally, now that football season has arrived at last, I’ll be in the mood to write a short story I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. Speaking of short stories, I’m probably going to look into my inventory of stories and see how many short stories I’ve written, mainly because A) I’ve said once I’ve had five or so done, I would look into selling them, and B) Once I have twenty good ones written, I’m probably going to publish them as an anthology or a series, even though they aren’t connected. At least not intentionally.  I even have a name for this.

So that’s what I’ve been doing and I thought that’s what you would want to know before I go on vacation. Where I’m going I’m not sure if it’s good Internet form to divulge that to strangers, but writing will probably be not my priority for the next week or so.

Here’s hoping I have more news and stuff like that soon.

The Past

As I write, I find myself thinking of something that’s been on my mind for weeks now: backstory. Or more specifically, what should I include and not include.

Let me explain it to you this way: You know the Star Wars prequels? A series of movies that I consider the most hated things on the Internet from what I’ve seen? I think that the reason that they’re hated is, among other reasons, they gave an explanation to The Force and gave Darth Vader a backstory. The Midichlorians destroyed any mysticism The Force had to some people, and Darth Vader wasn’t the mysterious badass people had come to love for decades. Personally, I haven’t seen the prequels, but I know enough Star Wars to understand where the anger was coming from. George Lucas messed with perfection according to some people, and two of the greatest things in science fiction lost their luster to them.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m that big, but I hope to get something resembling a following. When that happens, I may get questions about my inspirations or something resembling sequels…or prequels. I’ve thought of this when thinking about my screenplay Wrath and while writing my book Welcome to Life in California (a writing process I can say is going pretty well at the moment), and I think that the idea of a backstory could make me think that too much stuff explained could ruin anything. I’m a guy that likes to read fanfiction and look at good fan art on occasion, and I think for some fans, the fun is creating their own lore. I’m not good enough to create headcanons as intricate like that (such as explaining why one character is actually another character’s father), and I think that destroying that possibility could hurt my work in the long run.

I guess the main point of what I’m trying to say is that the idea of explaining and giving a backstory is a tool for a writer, just like whatever a writer writes on, be it a laptop or a typewriter. And while the questions and fan community may not come anytime soon, I’m just thinking that maybe a sense of mystery could help my characters and my worlds (that’ll probably be set in something resembling reality) resonate and make people think “hey, this story by this Martin White II guy is pretty awesome.” Let’s hope there are people that think the same.