Category Archives: Writing

Resolutions for the New Year


As you read this I’ll be on the road toward California once again, ending my luxurious holiday vacation. I had a lot of fun with the family and I miss them already. Thanks to a rather rocking last few months of 2010, I’m pretty stoked for what’s in store in the new year. Here are some goals I’ve set for myself, separated by topic. YAY LISTS!

Writing and Projects

-Complete the two scripts I have in early draft stage.

-Write at least 3 more scripts this year.

-Get all current web series ideas through the writing stage.

-Write 3 short films and shop them to Columbia College friends.

-Write Sci-Fi novel I had intended for NaNo.

-Keep track of every day that I write in a cool excel spreadsheet, and try to work my way up to writing something every day.

-Start Hilarious Henry back up, streamline that whole ish.

-Write a footnote into my blog for no other reason than amusement and self-deprecation.

-Regularly comment on writer/screenwriter blogs.

Personal Stuff

-Get a better job, one that I can stand as well as one that pays more than my current place of employment.

-Go on at least one road trip.

-Be able to pay off at least 1 of my loans.

-Pay off my credit card completely.

-See roughly double the films I saw in 2010 and use flickchart to keep track of them.

-Play through at least 5 more video games this year.

-Expand my social circle some and find someone else who writes.*

—-

*This is actually a tougher one than it sounds because I haven’t met a writer in person whose company I’ve enjoyed. This could be why I don’t have many friends.

On the Past Year

Last year I wrote up a list of what I thought were reasonable resolutions for 2010. They were to be the type of goals I could actually accomplish as opposed to the type of resolutions I had made (and failed) before. The only rule I had set for myself was that these resolutions had to be specific and that they had to be something I could feasibly do within 12 months. The thought was that I could check on my progress each month to see how far I had come.

I pulled up last year’s resolutions today for the first time since I wrote them.

Heh. Oops.

From said post:

-Finish a final draft of Year of the Con, my nerdy road-trip comedy. Acquire an Agent and a Manager to help sell my script and future ones I write.
-Complete writing of two web series I want to produce.
-Get at least one of the web series produced.
-Write a third screenplay.
-Get Photoshop CS2 and Flash 8 back on my compruter. Srsly, the newer ones blow.
-Write every day.
-Find either a better-paying job or a second job.
-Start up my old webcomic.
-Go to more shows.
-Go to a rave.
-Go to 2 nerdy conventions. Dress up for both of them. – C2E2 Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3
-Go to comic con.
-Write a sci fi novel.
-Complete Script-Frenzy this year and do NaNoWriMo again!
-Write a spec script for a sitcom, hour-long drama, procedural, and whatever you call the ooey gooey goodness that’s on HBO and SHOWTIME these days.
-More dates. Some blind dates perhaps.
-Do one of those speed dating things and have at least as awkward a time as Steve Carrell did in The 40 Year Old Virgin.
-Drink more cranberry juice. So delicious.
-Get a suit. I’ve got the pants. Just need to get the rest.
-Co-write a film script with someone.
-Hang out more with friends and be less of an anti-social bitch. God, srsly.
-Do two things I would never otherwise do.
-Get my toon to level 80. God, srsly. I’m such a terrible nerd.
-Visit at least 2 Friendfeed people. ROAD TRIP!
-Take Killer (my cat) to the groomer. Be able to afford that.

I suppose I could complain that I didn’t complete nearly the amount of resolutions that I had set out to do last year or that none of my resolutions really did much in the way of bettering myself, but the truth of the matter is that I actually did things on this list and was able to have new experiences I hadn’t even thought of when I composed said list.

Extra things I did this past year:

-Blogged more.
-Took swing classes, did alright at them.
-Moved to LA.
-Went to AFI Film Fest, saw a ridiculous amount of films. FridaySaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesday
-Ate at In-n-Out.
-Was in the same room as Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein.
-Started dating my girlfriend.
-Made an idea excel sheet and ported it over to Evernote.
-Kept up with way more television this year, starting a series of blog posts to capsule review the episodes.
-Went to more music shows than I’ve been to in awhile.
-Met Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice, shook his hand.

New Years Resolutions are very hit or miss with people. A lot of people aren’t really all that enthused about seeing where they’ve failed in the year, and that’s understandable. However, I’ve started to think of these lists as a way to document a little bit of myself each year, almost like a photo album, in list format. Last year I was kind of in a rough place, as you can see by some of the self-deprecating notes in each item on my list. And yet I still had some hope for the year, as evidenced by all the things I thought I could do. I had SOME inkling that I would be moving to LA, but I didn’t really think I could pull off another large move.

I think I will make resolutions a bigger part of my New Year’s traditions from here on out. I would love to be able to look back on these posts ten to twenty years down the road and simply remember.

Okay, I’m done with this sentimental crap. WELCOME TO 2011, you sluts.

What Does NaNoWriMo Do For You?

As you may or may not know, November is National November Write Month. Simply put, people from all walks of life sit in front of their computers for thirty days and write upward of 50,000 words. Some people write memoirs and some people write sci-fi epics, while others write about their exploits in college. Recently, there was a post from Salon laying down some serious NaNoWriMo hate. I’m not sure I agreed with the logic the author employed, but they brought up two interesting points: 1) These writers don’t spend enough time reading, and 2) Events for writers are “largely unnecessary.” It’s that second point that has me the most intrigued.

When I participated last year, I wrote a cathartic piece about life after college and dealing with post-graduation depression. The whole thing was a meandering mess, wobbling back and forth between fact and fiction like a kid learning to ride bicycle. I finished my story within a day of NaNo ending, energized by the daily ritual of writing I had created and the inspiration that ritual had awakened.

And then I didn’t write anything until the following spring.

Are writing events really necessary? Do we need these month long fests to write? At best these binge-writing sessions stir the creative juices around a bit, only to have them simmer and then congeal until the following year. It’s a cycle of inspiration and determination, followed by months of shame and disappointment. How is that helpful to the writing lifestyle?

I decided to try something different this year. Instead of participating in NaNo, I would try and establish a stable writing routine for myself that I would follow on a weekly basis and that would be toward some kind of end (as in writing a blog series or trying to get a spec script ready for pitching). While it hasn’t gotten me writing every day of the week like I had hoped it would, it’s made me prioritize my writing each week and set deadlines for myself. These deadlines have yielded much stronger results than waiting for one writing event after the other.

But these are just the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head like those awesome bouncy-balls you can get at truck stops for a quarter. What do you think? Are writing events like NaNoWriMo necessary? Do they do anything for you? What do you get from this sort of event?

On Those Stupid Outline Thingies

5.1 GB left of 8.7 GB. I’ve been sitting at my computer for a little bit now, staring at the progress bar in the hopes that it will magically move faster and faster in the ensuing moments. Since I’ve been doing this for a bit now (like I just said), it’s probably safe to assume that it’s going to take even longer to finish. So while the download is doing it’s thing and pissing me off, I figured I would jot down some thoughts in a stream of conscious manner to break the monotony of my latest string of “well-organized” posts.

In short, I want to talk about outlines.

I hate outlines. I hate writing outlines and I hate thinking about them. I come from a method of writing that involves turning on the writing program of choice and just vomiting as many words out as I can, hoping to touch upon a compelling narrative or two in the process. I like saving that organization thing for the second draft, where I have to put thought into stuff like theme or why making the side character a cat instead of a man is hilarious. No, really. It’s funny as hell.

But lately I’ve started to change how I see the writing process. Call it a writer’s puberty, if you will. Suddenly, I find that I can’t write anything unless it’s got a preset structure going in. Something that would have simply been a sit-and-write before has now become an exercise in meticulous planning. The change happened with the last script I wrote (which I have YET to revise). I decided to do things different from my usual method and write out an outline to focus my writing and get things done in a shorter period of time.

Well, it worked. In fact, it worked so great that I got it in my brain that outlining was a good thing. Now I can’t write any kind of story without drafting up a roadmap of all the things that need to happen in the story. The problem here is that I’m still the person from before who needs to jump right in and start hammering on the keyboard like there’s no tomorrow. I still need that freedom to take the story anywhere and develop the characters as I go along.

4.5 GB left.

God, I really hate outlines. I should probably finish the one I’ve started for my horror film.

Chuck, We Need To Talk

Can you come here a minute, Chuck? We need to talk. Yes, it’s as bad as you think it is. Sit down and let me get this off my chest before I lose my nerve.

This isn’t working. I’m sorry, Chuck. It’s you, not me. I can’t go on in this relationship anymore. It’s obvious that things are going nowhere and I really need a show that appreciates my sensibilities and that is able to grow with me. I’m all the way over here in season four and I feel like you’ve never really left season two. I come home after a long day’s work and turn on the television, only to find the same old schtick that I’ve seen before. If I wanted “same old,” I would have purchased an older season or watch Undercovers instead. But that’s not on on Mondays, so that leaves me with what? Weeds? Sure, I’ll only watch a half hour of television to relax in the evening. Maybe I’ll fill the rest of my night crying into a vodka bottle while listening to The Magnetic Fields.

But I digress.

I feel like we’re not in this together anymore. I wanted to see Casey have a larger arc involving his daughter. The promise of that excited me in ways I’ve not felt since you gained the Intersect 2.0 or when I found out that Scott Bakula was going to be your dad. Seeing a new side to an otherwise one dimensional character felt so right.

Or how about Morgan and the Buy More story arc. Here’s a character that started off nothing more than the comedic relief of this show. He was the idiot that served to lighten the mood when the spy stuff got too intense. With the most recent season, I expected to see him take more of an important role and come into his own. Hell, you promised me that this would happen last season when he became an official operative and started going on missions with you.

What? Hold on. Neighbor yelled something about spoilers. Give me a sec. I’ve got to reply. HOW ABOUT YOU WATCH THE SHOW WHEN IT AIRS, HUH?! MAYBE THEN YOU WOULDN’T BE SPOILED. WHORE. Can you believe that? It’s like they wait to watch things on DVD or something.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Us.

We had all this potential together. What happened? What went wrong?

Wait. I know what went wrong. You went back to HER. You decided that you wanted to spend all your time with Sarah, making your petty squabbles the main focus of the show. Instead of letting me get to know your friends better, you made this all about you. Do you realize how much it hurt watching the most recent episode and realizing that things would never progress between us? It was like a slap in the face, Chuck.

No. I won’t hear it. Don’t tell me that you can change. It’s too late. I just…I…I think you should go.

Serenity

Eleven Day Steampunk

Serenity

April 1st came around and two things happened: I completely forgot that it was April Fools Day and I began the screenwriting boot camp known as Script Frenzy. If you’ll recall, I wrote earlier about my plans to write two scripts to make up for the zero I wrote last year. Well, I’m here today to tell you that I’m done with my first script, LAMENT. It’s a Steampunk Western Revenge Flick about a father and a husband who will stop at nothing to kill the man responsible for ruining his life. There’s action, there’s drama and there’s enough steampunk to whet your appetite.

All in all, the script took me eleven days to write, averaging out about ten pages a day with a day or two off to keep my sanity. I discussed the beauty of outlining in my last post and the proof was in how easy it was to bang out the script. I essentially breezed through ten pages, checked my notes, and then soared through another. Naturally, my script ended at page 93.

Now you might ask, “Doesn’t Script Frenzy require 100 pages?”

Yes, it does. This was perhaps one of the more interesting aspects to my writing binge this past week or so. By around page 85, I started to burn out. When you burn out as a writer, the first thing that goes by the wayside is the prose. While you’re generally not supposed to flower your script with prose, the details help. I perused the pages near the end and realized that I had all but dropped the prose in favor of quick action text like, “Westin charges forward, shoots guy,” or “Westin kills bad guy.” On the first day, it was more along the lines of, “Westin steps off the train, letting his bag drop to the ground. He toys with the cigarette sandwiched between his lips and tosses it aside.”

You get the idea.

The other thing that also seems to fall by the wayside is the dialog. The first few days of writing (roughly 30-40 pages) saw some interesting dialog between the characters, stuff that gave you a decent idea as to what made them tick. Granted, we’re not talking Tarantino’esque yakking, but something useful for a first draft. By the last page, no one was saying a word except for the villain and he repeated himself to an annoying extent.

“Hey,” you might interrupt, “weren’t you supposed to do two scripts?”

Busy month, indeed.

Script Frenzy

A Most Ambitious Frenzy

Script Frenzy

Last year I failed Script Frenzy. I had a good idea, but I just didn’t have the commitment to the event that I needed to see the project through. From a writing perspective, I had gotten too mired in plot and “revise-as-you-go,” a screenwriter’s worst nightmare. I would open up my script during those 5 days I wrote and start from the beginning, tweaking everything until it felt as succinct and ready-to-sell as a final draft. By that fifth day I was burned out and done with the whole mess, so I stopped and went about my business.

Well, that’s not going to happen this year. I’ve decided to overcompensate for my failure by writing two scripts this year for Sript Frenzy. That’s right, two scripts! The idea is that I will get my first script done within the first ten to fifteen days, and then spend the last part of the month working on my second feature. I plan to budget at least ten pages a day to my script and then write some kind of rambly-ass post on here to update how things are going.

This will be a very very very interesting April.

Allons-y!

Jon on the run!

On New Years Resolutions

Jon on the run!

Last year I wrote up a post about my new years resolutions. Out of the 20 I posted, I ended up completing only one. So this year I decided to re-think the resolution thing and come up with more attainable goals so I feel less pathetic when the 2011 rolls around. Although, I have a feeling that history will repeat itself like it usually does and I’ll be writing a post similar to this one next year. Yay for New Years Resolutions, eh?

Anyway, here’s the list in all it’s listy glory.

  1. Finish a final draft of Year of the Con, my nerdy road-trip comedy.
  2. Acquire an Agent and a Manager to help sell my script and future ones I write.
  3. Complete writing of two web series I want to produce.
  4. Get at least one of the web series produced.
  5. Write a third screenplay.
  6. Get Photoshop CS2 and Flash 8 back on my compruter. Srsly, the newer ones blow.
  7. Write every day.
  8. Find either a better-paying job or a second job.
  9. Start up my old webcomic.
  10. Go to more shows.
  11. Go to a rave.
  12. Go to at least 2 nerdy conventions. Dress up for both of them.
  13. Go to comic con.
  14. Write a sci fi novel.
  15. Complete Script-Frenzy this year and do NaNoWriMo again!
  16. Write a spec script for a sitcom, hour-long drama, procedural, and whatever you call the ooey gooey goodness that’s on HBO and SHOWTIME these days.
  17. More dates. Some blind dates perhaps.
  18. Do one of those speed dating things and have at least as awkward a time as Steve Carrell did in The 40 Year Old Virgin.
  19. Drink more cranberry juice. So delicious.
  20. Get a suit. I’ve got the pants. Just need to get the rest.
  21. Co-write a film script with someone.
  22. Hang out more with friends and be less of an anti-social bitch. God, srsly.
  23. Do two things I would never otherwise do.
  24. Get my toon to level 80. God, srsly. I’m such a terrible nerd.
  25. Visit at least 2 Friendfeed people. ROAD TRIP!
  26. Take Killer (my cat) to the groomer. Be able to afford that.

Here’s to the new year!

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Remake It

The HORROR! THEY'RE REMAKING WHAT?!
The HORROR! THEY'RE REMAKING WHAT?!

I’ve got a rather novel idea that I’d like to share with the world, something which I think everyone can agree with on some basic level. Something, which when I say it you’ll say “amen” under your breath. Ready for it?

We don’t *need* remakes.

I was looking at some stills for the upcoming movie remake The Karate Kid and suddenly this revelation hit me in all it’s clarity and wisdom. Why was this remake needed? What wasn’t told with the original story that needed to be re-told? What other kind of spin could anyone actually put on this to make it suitable for a new generation? Last I checked, the original source material still holds up and isn’t that painfully dated. And it’s not the casting that bothers me about this remake, it’s that the best option was to just re-do everything and call it a Karate Kid movie.

What if instead of remaking everything under the sun people decided to just take the basic story structures from these older movies and make something new entirely? A young, troubled boy finds an outlet for his untoward behavior in karate, thanks to a sage neighbor. Why does it have to be called The Karate Kid, and furthermore, what’s so important with it being a remake? Is it just to bring in the nostalgic moviegoers? Is it because remaking already established properties is fiscally safe?

How about this? Let the basic story stand on it’s own feet and trust that audiences that like that type of story will come in and see it. Since there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s not like you’re going to get sued for having a similar story type to the Karate Kid. If that were the case, I highly doubt a lot of “original” properties wouldn’t exist today.

Just something to think about. If it ain’t broke..

On NaNoWriMo

I R A WRITER NAOW

Dudes (and Dudettes), I totally frickin’ did it!

I wrote a 50,000 word novel. That’s about 93 pages using your standard Times New Roman font and the basic margins set up by Microsoft Word when you open a blank document. Seven more pages and I could use one-fifth of a ream of paper to print out my novel. Reading my words would take a few trips if you took the public transportation here. So, now what? What happens now that I’ve done the unthinkable (or at least have done what I thought to be unthinkable..or doable)?

I dunno.

I think I’m going to take the next month or so and let the project simmer so I can get a feel if I want to actually do more with it or if it’s going to remain merely a means of cheap therapy. There’s not really that much of a plot to speak of, since it’s based loosely on me and my life after graduation. And every few thousand words I throw in something fictional to spice things up and make it readable on some level. But for the most part there’s a lot of incoherent ramblings about the craft of writing, which perhaps works well with the crazier parts of the story as one would have to be a bit nutty to fictionalize themselves.

The process of writing out this monstrosity was kind of interesting as I forced myself to write at least 2,000 words on average every day. On days I took off, I made up for it by doubling and in some cases tripling the word count. By the fourth week, I started to feel the strain of the deadline and let myself get a little looser in what I allowed on the page. But what I didn’t expect was that all this writing would spark my creative juices in such a dramatic way. I started going back to my other projects and re-examining them, planning on what I would do when I finished my novel. On one particular day, I even planned out another novel that I want to write. I imagine that there will be a NaJaWriMo or something in my future.

This fire to continue writing hasn’t stopped since I passed the 50k word limit. In fact, I wrote two short scripts on Sunday and outlined another project. And as you can tell, tonight I decided to blog a bit.

If I could impart some advice from what I’ve learned doing this whole project it would be that you just need to write. Don’t get hung up on whether it’s good or not. Tell your story and save the validity of it for draft two. Be as raw as you can be and you’ll find that the words come quite naturally.

But fuck poetry, because that’s just stupid. :P