Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back Over the Year

A solid year of this stuff. Who would've guessed any of us would be so interested in my blatherings for so long? I sure didn't.

So, the whole point of this blog (besides lowering my blood pressure) is to hopefully give a helpful hint or two. The best way to utilize those tips, silly as it sounds, is to write. That's why we're all here, yes?

That being said... what did you write this year?

As I said last year, I'm not interested in the cool ideas you’re going to do something with eventually. I don’t want you to talk about what you’ve planned to do. I also don’t care what clever software you bought, or what fascinating research you’ve done, or who you had an extended online chat with during lunch one day.

The question, my eleven faithful followers, is what have you written?

Y'see, Timmy, if you're not writing, that's kind of the end of the discussion right there. We can't talk about editing, improving, or polishing our work until we've actually got some work, right?

We have to write. Until you're writing on at least a semi-regular basis

So, what did I do over these past twelve months?

I wrote thirty-eight articles for Creative Screenwriting magazine. Granted, because of lead times some of this won't see print until next year, but by the same token some of the stuff that did come out this year were things I actually wrote last year. I got to sit down and talk with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, Nora Ephron, Mike Judge, Nancy Meyers, Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, and even Frank Darabont at one point. Plus a bunch of screenwriters you've probably never heard of but loved their work (like David Self, Kundo Koyama,Tony Gilroy, Simon Kinberg, David Hayter, and Bruce Joel Rubin). If you haven't seen (500) Days of Summer yet, by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, you're missing out. Also add in another thirty-four reviews and interviews for the CS Weekly online newsletter (sign up over there on the right if you haven't already). That let me see a bunch of movies for free and also interview another pile of screenwriters like Stephan Elliot and Shane Black. There were also a few scattered reviews in there for both CinemaBlend and Coming Attractions. I think the final total for non-fiction pieces comes in at seventy-five.

It's also fair to mention that I got to work with two really great editors for a lot of this, David and Jeff. They've each got their own style, they each have their own preferences, and I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a headbutt or three in there throughout the year. They both kept me on my toes, though, and made sure I was putting out the best work I could. Half the reason I can write fast and tight is because of these two guys.

I scribbled down a quick short story/ article for the upcoming Moron's Guide to the Inevitable Zombocalypse which will see print in 2010. There's also a story going out to a time-travel anthology pretty much right alongside this post. I'm kind of proud of these two on a couple of levels. One is that they're two pretty solid stories that I managed to get out really quick. As soon as I had the idea, I had the whole story. The other thing was that it had a very Bradbury feel. In many of his autobiographical tales he talks about when he would rush out stories so he could pay the rent, and there is a very nice feel to ever-so-briefly living in that world of "I need money--I better write something quick and sell it."

I wrote one of those mash-up books that's so popular right now, blending modern horror tropes into classic literature. Although, in all fairness, about 60% of the finished book was written by someone else two hundred years ago, which is some serious lead time. Hopefully I'll get to say a bit more about that sometime soon. It's making the rounds right now, as they say.

To be honest, I don't know what they say. I just wanted to sound like I was in the loop, as they say.

I'm currently about 30,000 words into a sci-fi/horror novel set 200 years in the future. It's on the Moon, so it's beyond everything. Alas, it got set aside for the above-mentioned mash-up project, and it may take a bit of work to get back into it. There are a few moments in it that are just wonderful, though, so I'm sure it will see the light of day sometime or another.

There are also twenty-five pages of notes for an Ex-Heroes sequel. The publisher has been asking me about it since the day he bought the first book. However, while I was doing the Orci and Kurtzman interview mentioned above, Roberto Orci made an offhand comment about sequels while looking me right in the eyes and... well, he's been haunting me ever since. So expect me to dive into that in March, after there's been some response to the February release of Ex-Heroes.

Oh, and I managed to post here on a fairly regular basis. Better than last year, even. For a free blog that's supposed to go up once a week, 49 posts in a year is pretty impressive. At least from where I'm sitting. I also threw up a counter back in late June (starting it at 500), so using my impressive math skills it would seem I'm getting around 100 peeks a week here. So someone's looking at it besides me. Maybe all eleven of you keep coming back every day.

That's what I wrote this year. How about you?

Make the same New Year’s resolution as last year. A page a day. That's it. It usually works out to under 300 words if you've got the formatting right. If you write one page a day, you can have a short story by the end of January. You could have a solid screenplay by the time May rolls around. This time next year, you could have a novel. All that, out of a mere page a day. If you're actually serious about being a writer, this should be the equaivalent of making a resolution to breathe in the months to come.

Happy New Year to all eleven of you reading this. Next time, will be the first post of 2010, so I thought I'd do something that dealt with the first.

Until then, go drink some champagne and toast the new year.

Then go write. Just write one page.

4 comments:

Beachcomber said...

Hi! First of all, I'd like to say that I really love your posts. I'm a faithful follower, and I think will be until you stop your posts which hopefully will happen in a hundred years or so. You're a funny guy (or so I think from reading your posts) and because I find your posts very invaluable.

I'm writing because I've been reading about the best and worst films of the year, you know, looking back over the year. I'm not sure if film critics' points of view differ from a screenwriter's point of view. But I'd like to know if you do have a list like this and if you care to share them to us, and then have little comments on why you think they're good or bad -- your own criteria.

I'm reading now the list from CNN http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/01/best.worst.movies.2009/. And do you agree with his best and worst films list? Aren't the best films on his list on the "arty" or "indie" side?

Virtual Stranger said...

Hullo, Beachcomber. Always nice to see there's someone here besides the 11 known Cylon models.

As far as best and worst go... well, it's not really the kind of thing I cover here on the ranty blog. It's also fairly subjective and really depends on your angle. For example, writing for CSWeekly there are films I've given low reviews to which are still movies I overall enjoyed.

I think you make an interesting (if perhaps unconscious) point when you say "from a screenwriter's point of view." Most of the really good (and really successful) screenwriters I've spoken with just try to enjoy movies like everyone else. They like watching films and learning the story as it unfolds, not the story as they read it after downloading an early draft of the script and reading half a dozen reviews at AICN. They like to watch movies first, analyze them second (a huge flaw I see sooooooo many film students make).

From a screenwriting point of view is tough, too, since there's so many filters between the screenplay and the audience.

As for a list of my own... We're actually doing a few things along this line in Creative Screenwriting this month, so going into it again here is probably a bit of a contractual gray area. Without too much detail, I can say a few of my favorite films I saw this year.

(500) Days of Summer
UP
Away We Go
Watchmen
State of Play
Dead Snow
Inglorious Basterds
The Informant!
The Burrowers


Hopefully that gives you one or two things for your Netflix queue.

Rakie said...

woo, go you, that's an impressive amount of stuff done! *polite applause* I'm intreguied about the mash up book (so much so i've forgotten how to spell), can't wait to hear more about that.

happy 2010 to you, and everyone else who frequents this place! *sends new year love*

Beachcomber said...

Thanks Stranger! I like your list way better. And I like it knowing that most of the really good screenwriters watch a movie not to analyze but to enjoy, just like everybody else. I think only the film critics do the other way. And yes, film students, now that you mentioned it.