Moving On

July 21, 2011

Psycho Ex is done. Sent out to readers, ready to upload to inktip, everything. Done.

It works and I’m happy with it. It’s not perfect, it’s not my favorite script of mine, it is not profound or full of insights on the human condition. But it has one huge thing going for it: it’s done.

It has been a good exercise and hopefully a step forward for me. But now it is time for me to move on to the next one.

In grad school I TA’d for a film production instructor who told his class something very important. This was back in the days of 16mm film and non-digital editing and analog mixing sessions. With the structure of school, it took a semester to make a short (or write a feature), and after a while you started thinking of short films and screenplays in those terms: they were big, slow, time-consuming projects that took months to complete and consumed most of your waking life. Your semester grade was on the line, not to mention your pride, and since this end-product was what you showed your friends and parents and colleagues, people acted as if this was their one shot in life to make a movie, their one chance to fulfill all their goals and dreams, their one time to put down and justify their very identities for all to see.

This instructor said this was stupid and a huge flaw with film schools. It’s a movie. It’s a script. You’re supposed to make/write these all the time, because they’re FUN, not bureaucratic requirements. Yes, you do your best, and put in as much of yourself as you can. But if you’re a filmmaker, you make films. If you’re a writer, you write stuff. Not once in a lifetime, but over and over. You just keep doing it. Over and over.

The way you get better at this is by practicing, by doing, by moving forward. Psycho Ex is done and I will show it and send it out and put it out there. But it’s done. Time to move on and dust off that TV show idea.


Back From the Dead. Possibly.

July 7, 2011

Don’t get excited or anything, but I just may be moving forward again. It has been a long hibernation, and hopefully it really is over. After literally years, I picked up Psycho Ex again, dusted it off, and am nearly done with a rewrite.

It’s amazing what you can do with an hour a day once the weeks start adding up. We’ll see if I can keep it going. (And the more people I tell about this, the greater the peer pressure to keep it plowing ahead.)

More news soon. Maybe.

And hey you, out there – keep writing.

Me and My Big Ideas

January 27, 2011

I think of myself as an “idea guy.” Why? Because I’m certainly not the alternative: the “work really, really hard sticking with it and writing multiple drafts until it’s the best it can be” guy.

Ideas are fun. Ideas are easy. When they come, they come. When they don’t, it’s not your responsibility. And when they turn into real work, well,… that’s usually when I get my next big idea.

Just this week I woke up with a fully formed idea for a TV series. This had never happened to me before. I was psyched, completely energized. Within hours I was Read the rest of this entry »

Let the Rejections Begin

January 12, 2010

The rules are pretty clear: You should never, never, never, ever send your stuff out until it is as good as it can possibly be. Ever.

Except, of course, for the occasions when you do.

I saw this “script wanted” listing last week:

Psycho Thriller/Suspense
We are looking for completed feature-length ultra-low budget dramatic thriller scripts with psychological elements. We prefer a story with a simple setup and psychological tension over gore (no scripts in the vein of “SAW”). However, sex and violence are fine as long as there is a smart, compelling build-up (no soft-core thrillers). Examples of similar projects would be films like “The Piano Teacher,” “Knife in the Water,” “See the Sea” or “L.I.E.”

Budget will not exceed $200,000. Non-WG writers may submit.

Now, the rewrite of Psycho Ex is not done (not even close), but this is so close of a fit that I shot an email to the contact to pitch it. The contact read the pitch and wanted to see the full script, so I emailed it off yesterday. Except for some (disappointing) discussion and peer-review on, this is the first industry submission for the script. We’ll see what happens.

Now, back to the rewrite. Time to get this thing out to bluecat and up on inktip.

Why They Call it the “First” Draft

October 16, 2009

“The artist’s life is frustrating not because the passage is slow, but because he imagines it to be fast.”
– David Bayles & Ted Orland, “Art & Fear,” 1993

“The first draft of Psycho Ex is killing me not because it is a bad first draft, but because I was hoping it was the final draft.”
– Robb, 2009

Based upon the macro feedback from a few rounds of readers, Psycho Ex has some problems. Specifically:

  • The first act/half is WAY too slow
  • The middle is confusing
  • The third act is somewhat clunky
  • Nobody “gets” the ending

So it’s merely the beginning, the middle, and the end that need work. I guess that’s why they call it the “first” draft.

Bit the Bullet

October 4, 2009

After days of agonizing I finally uploaded Psycho Ex (it has a new title) to for peer review.

I don’t know why I still feel like the thing isn’t done – it’s currently on its third round of readers and responses have been positive. It’s as if there’s some threshold I still haven’t crossed, but I don’t know what it is.

The script will be up for 30 days and due to the way the site/community is designed it should get 4 or 5 reviews. We’ll see how it goes.

Next stop after that: agent queries, contests, and inktip.

Out to Readers

September 4, 2009

After an embarrassingly long gestation period, a first draft of Psycho Ex (with a name change) has finally gone out to its first round of readers. I should get feedback Tuesday after the long weekend.

This always feels weird. I am happy and satisfied and exhausted and not convinced it’s really happening – like the first week after college finals.

But there is a whole different additional dynamic at play with this one than usual, because – due somewhat to the original “Challenge” – it is much more an exercise than a passion project. Don’t get me wrong, the story was my idea, and I take its execution very seriously, but now that a draft is complete I feel “outside” the thing more than I ever have.

The thing I love/hate about writing is that when I work on something this big and all-encompassing, I get overwhelmed and lost inside it. I fall in love with it, and I don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse. It’s wonderful because I think/hope it adds heart and soul to the piece, but it’s terrible because I lose all objectivity and get lost. For long periods. With almost every script, I can vividly remember THE EXACT MOMENT when everything shifts and I come up for air, when I get back “on top of it,” when I get back outside and un-consumed by it and I start cutting and shaping and whacking at it with no emotional attachment whatsoever. This is when the work really gets done. But this is also when I feel guilty, like I’ve stopped loving someone simply because it is no longer the pragmatic thing to do.

I don’t think I was ever in love with this one. I spent a lot of time in the depths with it, don’t get me wrong, but it was never a passion project like Aftershocks was or Dead Guy is. I was more objective with this one all along, so there are parts of it (Act Two hopefully, Act Three definitely) that I think are better executed than my usual output. I would say I’m very happy with the execution on those (this Act Three is probably the best I’ve ever written). But it never took on a life of its own really.

Does this mean it will be less “alive” than it should be? Than it could be? Does this mean there won’t be enough “there” for the reader?

Will the reader know that it has less of a “soul” than it could have had? Or will it just be me?

Or have I finally shaken off the indulgent crap of falling in love with your material? Have I finally got on with the real business of writing?

Update: Just got my first feedback (thanks Tammy!). The weekend is off to a good start…