How to be more disciplined with writing

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Just sit down and do it.

 

It really is that simple. I know far too many people who claim they have to be in the right mood, that they have to wait for their muse to come along whenever its fancy strikes. As though they don’t realize the muse can be summoned.

There are plenty of times I don’t feel like writing. Right now is one of them. There are plenty of times when I don’t feel inspired or I’m busy with other things.

However, the mood does come and for myself at least, I can force it.

Just try the following:

  • make sure you’re not thirsty or hungry, etc.
  • have a set amount of time where you know you will not be distracted – at least a few hours
  • sit down at your computer and open up whatever project you are working on
  • Read through your project from the beginning

If you are still having trouble after about five minutes, either open up a new project or begin a new one. I usually have about five or six on the go that I rotate.

I spent years on various projects, because I waited for until I was in the right mood, and wasted countless hours on things other than writing, hoping the mood would come on its own.

It does not. Just sit down and write.

Screenwriter John Blumenthal: How to Write a Best-Selling Novel

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I’ve recently started Twittering under my favorite username: Wilde_at_heart. Thinking back I really should have monopolized this name wherever I could, since I’ve used it in various places since the late 90s – and created a ‘brand’. I just tried to sign up to HuffPo and it’s been taken. Grrr..

 

Anyway, I’ve begun following various screen-writers and so forth on Twitter, once I’ve managed to verify it’s actually them and not some spammer trying to sell me cialis or ‘hot camera pixx’. One of them is John Blumenthal, who also blogs about useful screen-writer-y stuff. And makes me seriously question the wisdom of taken the path of chosen.

 

I suspect the same novel that inspired my previous post inspired this article in Huffington Post by John Blumenthal, though I could be wrong.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-blumenthal/how-to-write-a-bestselling-novel_b_1609799.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

 

In brief, write ‘young adult’ fiction with middle-aged female readers in mind. Use as few words as possible, over as many pages as possible.  Keep the description short, lots of plot turns, lots of dialog. Oh, and throw some vampires/werewolves/aliens somewhere in the mix.

 

Brilliant advice.

 

Basically, just write porno. As in my earlier post, you just need enough to move the story along from one fantasy scene where clothes get torn off to the next location where clothes get torn off.

You don’t need to bother about character development either – rich and ‘so freakin’ hot’ should be enough with a ‘ripped abs’ and smouldering eyes’ in the intro. Those seven words over again and your readers will be having their own wild sex fantasies about them in no time.

 

Off to create a fanfiction login!

 

Hopefully Wilde_at_heart isn’t taken. It has, dammit. NOT ME.

50 Shades of Boom-Chicka-Wow-Wow

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Over the weekend I broke down and read most of the latest Pop Culture Phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey. Okay, I didn’t read it, exactly. I scanned through it. It’s desperately in need of a professional editor but the point of this blog isn’t to point out the relative quality of the writing.

The Trilogy is something that struck a nerve with a lot of women out there and it’s always worth at least taking a look at something that hyped to at least see what all the fuss is about.

It’s porn.

I don’t mean that it’s literally cover-to-cover smut. The author is no Henry Miller or Victoria-era Anonymous. The sex scenes are a bit silly and relatively tame, basically the book is a Harlequin Romance with riding crops.

For those who refuse to read it, Anastasia Steele (yes, written in 50 shades of purple prose), about to graduate college, meets Christian Grey, CEO of some big company. He’s a dom. She’s a virgin. He wants her to sign a contract for her to be his sub, and ‘claim her ass’. Tee hee!

Um, yeah. It’s actually a really intriguing concept, with the potential to be a serious study on power relationships between the sexes. Like I asserted in my previous post, I suspect all those writing seminars are wrong these days: ideas are what count, not the execution. Get yours out first if you have a good one and put as much effort into marketing it as you do writing it. (Some day I may even take my own advice….)

Anyway, aside from the odd oh my! and down where? it isn’t all that dirty. I call it porn because it is pure, unbridled wish-fulfillment. Shameless fantasy for an Inner Goddess.

Many critics objecting to the book complain that Anastasia’s character is so dull, and ordinary. Main characters are supposed to be larger than life! What is so special about her that she turns this wealthy, incredibly good-looking, powerful twenty-something CEO (did I say he was good-looking, every second paragraph mentions that he is) into a permanent walking hard-on? I mean, come on!

The same thing that makes a balding fat dude (no offence to Ron Jeremy) wildly attractive to a bevvy of bodacious blondes.

That’s the point! Anastasia is supposed to be YOU, the dull, plain, ordinary reader stuck in a boring job and a “did you do the garbage yet?” marriage. And that the smoulderingly gorgeous, brilliant, wealthy entrepreneur desires YOU more than anything else in the world, just as ‘Ron Jeremy’ is the blue-collar schmuck who compels beautiful women to strip off their clothes and have sex with him.

What I admire about the book is it’s utterly shameless, unbridled sexual liberation. Even if the whole sub/dom/spanking thing is repulsive, the author’s fantasy is entirely hers and she revels in it. And plenty of other women seem to as well.

And just like the Victoria-era writings of myriad Anonymous, the Trilogy delves into a very modern cultural taboo: that in the Feminist era of gender equality and Girl Power, there are women out there who WANT to be dominated by men. At least in their sexual fantasies.

The trilogy is not supposed to be even remotely realistic. It’s not supposed to be Literature, any more than porno is supposed to be Film. Just enough to move the story along from one fantasy (I WANT YOU!) scene to the next location (TAKE ME NOW!).

Read it, enjoy it, if that’s your thing, but it’s not meant to be taken seriously. So don’t.

Speed-screenwriting

Last month I wrote a complete, feature-length screen play in about four days. Granted, it still needed some polishing but if I’d been trying to beat the deadline for a competition I would have succeeded.

 

No matter what work of genius you may have in front of you, the first question any producer will ask is what else you have. Or so I’ve been told. In that case there’s not much point polishing anything mirror-smooth until you know someone else is about to read it (someone willing to part with money, that is) so I lately have been focussing on quantity over quality.

To a certain degree. Churning out unreadable crap is even more pointless.

 

I came up with my newest premise (a Vampire idea I’d been toying with) and wanted to see if I could now match my previous record. Next time I’ll try this when I’m not expecting visitors for three days. Still, tallying two full days I’ve managed a complete outline and I’m at 60 pages. Another two-day burst and I could be ready to move on to the next project.

 

And more query letters. And loglines. Those really do need to be perfect. Gleaming in the brilliant morning sun.

 

It helps to have a formula and by that I don’t mean writing the same screenplay over and over again with only slight variations. Although any creative endeavor is partly alchemy (magic!), there is a hard science to it as well, and following particular steps is what enables me to crank out a fully-realized story within the space of a week.

 

So here are my steps to writing at full speed, patent pending:

  • begin with an idea of course. Make sure it’s a decent one.
  • decide on some main characters, at least two.
  • figure out what happens to the main characters and what they do about it.
  • hash out a full plot – beginning, middle and end* in one go
  • start the first scene. Where, when, who. I try to introduce at least one major character here.
  • then I just write out a couple of lines for each subsequent scene until I’m at the end.
  • from there, just flesh out each scene into dialog and action and –

Voilà! Your screenplay is done.

 

Okay, so I’ve had a little practice. It might take someone else a little longer. I’ve left out a couple of elements for the sake of brevity but also because no magician reveals all her tricks. Hollywood-type screenplays do follow particular formula regarding over-all length and various plot points that I advise to study extensively while writing out the various scenes.

 

I try not to switch around scenes too much – it’s easier to decide what goes where while there’s only two lines you’re looking at, rather than possibly a couple of pages.

 

Now off to see if I can get the rest of my current screenplay finished in two days, since that’s all the time I have to work uninterrupted until some time next week. I’m also thinking it could be turned into a rather decent Novella as well. *bangs head on desk*

 

 

 

 

 

*I learned the hard way. NEVER spend a lot of work on something if you don’t know how it is going to end.

Wilde and Lovecraft WTF???

This is copied over from my Blogger Blog and some day I’ll figure out how to link the two so that one posts to the other and vice versa.

 

Oscar Wilde and HP Lovecraft are two of the writers who had the most influence on my thinking, and the way I see the world.  Although one is known for his light comedic wit, the other schlocky horror, like some strange Hegelian dialiectic I constantly try to reconcile these seemingly divergent paths in my psyche.

 

Which is probably why I think Cabin in the Woods is one of the greatest movies I’ve seen in ages. Why I love horror comedy in general, or dark comedy. The darker the better. But I also love the most serious, straight up Hammer Horrors as well. Childhood idols included Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. Later, Bela Lugosi, undead, undead….

In my life I’ve only ever had two obsessions: movies, and as a teenager, the band Bauhaus (I even have a 45 of the Sinister Ducks). I was never a full-fledged goth because I could never take myself seriously enough or maybe I took myself too seriously. Labels can be limiting and yet there’s something to be said for being in a particular scene or subculture or genre. But that’s for another blog post, another day…

 

The Happy Prince is the only story that ever made me cry…

I’ve now written four feature-length  screenplays and will keep writing more as I try to push the others out into the world to fend for themselves. Some people see their writing projects as their babies but I try not to get too attached but rather, once one is birthed I prefer to incubate the next one. I’ll never have any 35-year olds living in my basement.

 

The first one screenplay I finished is a desert chase thriller.  After some major issues coming up with a decent logline I decided to completely re-write it. Same characters and overall story but slightly different premise. More ‘dramatically compelling’ as they say.

Another is a straight up suspense horror, based on an old German fairy tale which in turn is a variant of the old Bluebeard legend.  I read this story over and over again as a child (okay, I lied – I have had more than two obsessions!) because it featured dismemberment and as a seven-year-old in the 70s my options were rather limited in that regard.

Another screenplay is a heist comedy – something silly, absurd, satirical and a blast to write. My latest is a straight-up romantic comedy (!) I wrote in only a week. It’s called focus. In University I used to write 25-page term papers the night before they were due. Yes, I got As and Bs. Combining red wine and chocolate-covered espresso beans can do strange things to your state of consciousness.

 

Next up, maybe something with Vampires. After Twilight, that is a genre in desperate need of redemption. A website with a photo of an EMP gun has also inspired me to think of something post-apocalyptic.

 

Ideas, and more ideas. As I said, I am obssessed. Even if I never sell a single screenplay (the horror!!!!) I will keep writing. I have no choice.