Angst, Handwringing, and Screenwriting

I live in Los Angeles. I live approximately 15 miles from major studios that  you all know and love, such as Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, and countless other small independents. There are thousands of other businesses dependent on the movie industry, including catering, trucks, lights, sound, costumes, props, post production, special effects, and so on.

And, it seems if you’re a writer in Los Angeles, you really MUST have a screenplay.

So I was well aware of the fact that, having taken up the authorial title with the intent to produce an opus for Amazon that no one will buy but my closest blog friends (yeah, I’m lookin’ at all twenty of you. It’s going to cost you, this relationship!), I do not have the desire to write a screenplay. Despite the easy money falling off trees into the baskets of those hard-working screenwriters, I haven’t curled up with any self-help screenplay how-to books.

Enter the blog of Kristin Lamb. Many of you know her through her  blog devoted to improving fiction writing of anyone who will read. She is inspiring and also a kick in the arse for whomever will listen to her advice.  Yesterday, she posted a piece on Your Novel in One Sentence. It was essentially a breakdown of content found in the book, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.

Save the Cat is a book on how to write a screenplay. It encompasses things like genre, structure, and the one line that describes your movie, the logline. I made fun of a random internet plot generator in this post, but that thing is actually producing loglines correctly. It’s not very good at what it does, in that none of the ideas were viable, but it has the format correct and it’s doing better than most authors, if they ever bothered to summarize their novels at all.

I’ve only read a third of Snyder’s book and it’s eye-opening. I see application from screenplay into the world of novels. One of the drums he bangs most loudly is that there are rules and you can break them, but if you want to be successful you probably should stick to the rules.

Therein lies the source of most of the authorly angst that may be out there. If you’re selling a screenplay or you’re selling a book, you must be able to sum it up in about the size of a twitter post.  Tell me what your book is about in 140 characters or less. Most books don’t know what they’re about, and that gets them lost in the slush. When someone reviews the book, can they state what it’s about in less than a paragraph? I looked at Ionia’s reviews of books, and note that her style is to state the premise of the book in a paragraph (2-3 sentences). I think those are not the book blurb but her own words.

When you write, do you write for the audience, or are you creating lit-ah-rah-ture? Do you want to sell your book, or are you just trying to be an artist? People who write for a living write for the audience. The other one starves or lives off others or has a Real Job.

If you’re an indy author, do you pay attention to any of the things necessary to market your novel to publishers and agents, or do you disregard such focusing devices? Is there value in having concise summations of your novel? Are successful authors on Amazon due to having the conciseness in summation and marketing to an audience the retread story formats we know and love?

XbyFri… Failure is NOT an option

Sorry, Apollo 13.  It is an option. It’s always an option.  Declaring this bold statement doesn’t eliminate failure, it just removes the mindset or drives it underground.

With that in mind, I have not delivered on my 10 pages by Friday deadline.  I am still knee deep in Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.  It’s been crystallizing how the structure is supposed to look, and I’ll be able to mate that with  The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (and the dark side, The Negative Trait Thesaurus by the same authors) to get a grip on the characters and their part in the structure of the novel, upon which I can hang the words.

The thing about XbyFri was that I was attempting to produce pages for Kristin Lamb to review and give me feedback.  While I value Kristin’s kind offer, I am not at a point to accept it. Any writing I give her would be stunted and lacking in the things I’m working on mentioned above, and that would waste her time looking at it.  I would rather use her time for valuable pursuits such as those who do have content to review who would benefit from her wisdom.

Give it a few weeks. I think that the understanding of plot structure will open up the whole thing immensely.

Go ahead, comment. It won’t kill you.  And, um, it’s not because I’m desperate. Because I’m not. I’m NOT! Just comment. If you comment, I’ll be your best friend!  C’mon. I’ll give you a cookie! Yeah, I love the “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” books, too.

Get off social media. Write your book. Time marches on, right now

Read this post with this music (Van Halen’s Right Now) going in the background:

Hey! It’s your tomorrow
(Right now)
Come on, it’s everything
(Right now)
Catch your magic moment
Do it right here and now
It means everything

Just a quick note. I’ve been reading a lot of Kristin Lamb lately – she’s very encouraging, while being tough in the sense that you must be. She quotes two writers who essentially say the same thing:

Get off social media. Write your book.

They have a good point. The question is what you want to do. Do you want to be published? Do you?! Do you want to contribute to the great funnel of crap or do you want to publish something awesome and worthy? If your answer is you do want to be published, you have to write your book. If you want it to be awesome, you need to learn how to do it right. (Write?)

Lots of people have advice, and it’s cool, but ultimately with any advice is the application. What are you doing to make your book happen? Are you writing? Or blogging? Or twitting? Or posting cat vids on facebook? Writing makes your book happen. Everything else is fluff.

Application: What are you doing, right now, that is in the way of writing your book? Get focused. Get on the warpath.  Use your time wisely. Tempus fugit. It comes and goes and you will never get those minutes back.

Write your book. Get your warpaint on and hunt that sucker down with a big honkin’ boar spear. Be tenacious. Be focused. Desire your goal and obtain it.  Practice self-discipline and DO NOT LET THE TIME WASTER STOP YOU FROM WRITING YOUR BOOK.

Okay, I’m pumped. I’m ready to go back to character arcs and rewrite my outline. Who’s with me?

What do we call it? WriTePaByFri? The 10 page 7 day writing challenge

I’ve got this goal of 10 pages by Friday. Good pages. I can write 10 pages of mediocre adequate slush in an evening, so the amount isn’t the problem.  It’s the content.

One of the problems is to name it something, so it’s iconic and stuff.  Write Ten Pages by Friday becomes WriTePaByFri, or Writepabyfri. Which sounds dumb.

Maybe latin? Decem ceras a veneris. That’s hard, the Romans didn’t have pages per se, so it’s ten wax tablets by Venus-day.  Maybe XCeaVe. Exceave? Sounds like a sleep medication for seniors.

A mix! WriXpabyVen.  No, no, that’s not it.


That’s what I’ll use.  Mind, I think nano is a horrible name and emulating it causes me digestive stress, but it’s just what we’re going to go with.

I’d ask for your votes, however, I’m impassably dictatorial about this and you’d probably all decide Writepabyfri is your favorite, and who cares what I want?