Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reader Mail

Love me my reader mail. Especially when it's all about me.

Reader TytianaCS asks:

1. How do you turn a work of yours into a manuscript?

I honestly don't know the answer to this because I've never written prose. Well, I have but it's astonishingly awful and there was never any desire on my part to show it to anyone. There are a lot of websites that should be able to help you with this, and an extension course at a university could be of enormous benefit. It's not only a way to learn the next step, but also to make some contacts and meet other people. Writers need to be able to commiserate. It's a lonely profession.

I love going to classes. I wish I could afford to go back. I wish I could go back to high school and not waste four years of a free education ditching class to drink beer and smoke cigarettes behind the Kickapoo Food Mart... Actually, that's bull shit; I'd do it again. Hell, I'd do it this afternoon if my wife would let me.
2. How do you motivate yourself to stay constant with writing that one particular piece? I've started many projects but hardly ever finish them.

If you're not having fun writing it, it's probably not going to turn out all that well. I have two scripts that died on page 40 and one that died on page 10. I started them for the wrong reasons -- usually because I thought they'd be commercial -- and couldn't finish them because commercial or not, I didn't like them.

Just last year I tossed aside a clever concept in favor of this little romantic comedy. I grinded through the clever one for six months and couldn't get past page 40. The romantic comedy was a lot of fun to write and if I can it's the film I'd love to direct next. But guess which one would be more attractive to the money people?

I think I've completed 8 or 9 scripts by now and those have been stories I just wanted to tell. Some are pretty bad, most aren't commercial, but they were all fun to write and I had to get them out of my system.

What may help is telling you that no matter how much energy I have towards a script the first draft is always difficult. Getting those hundred pages down is the worst. That's the real work. But once I trudge through that and the re-writing and polishing begins I'm a pig in mud. I could finesse a script forever.

You just have to have the discipline to get that story down the first time so you have it. From there you just tweak away. But that's me. I know a lot of writers who love that first draft but hate the rewriting.

Another thing that helps is a muse. Think of someone you want to impress. Think of someone you can't wait to show your story to. Write for that person. Who do you want to dazzle? I always write to impress my pretty wife. Some I've written towards a producer friend of mine. A couple for a director I know. The last couple have been with some of the actors I've stayed close to in the hopes we can do something again. That's what you call a muse. In other words: Your Inspiration.

And again I would encourage you to take a night course. There are classes all about completing whatever it is you're working on; courses designed specifically towards the goal of getting it done.
3. Where would I be able to send my finished manuscript and know that it will be read over and not tossed aside? I don't expect them to be read, page for page or thoroughly but I would like for them to be considered.

First off, when you finish something I'd be happy to read it. Prose is not my field -- I don't even read fiction -- but just so know even if it's On The Road-quality I wouldn't know what to do with it. But I could at least give you an opinion. And it would be an honest one.

Whatever kind of story you're writing, look for who publishes them, look for who manages the writers who are getting published, find out their submission policies (usually a query letter that asks for a short description of your story), and follow them.

When I first came out here I called every agency on the agency list and as soon as someone picked up the phone, I said, "Hi, I have a script about a serial killer who discovers people worst fear of dying and makes it come true. I was wondering if you might be interested in taking a look at it?" Out of a hundred-plus phone calls and I got around fifteen reads. Which was very exciting. The mistake I made was that at the time the script was a piece of shit and I did myself more harm than good and am probably still on every big agencies Hack-Writer-Do-Not-Read-List.

The way to not get tossed aside is to grab them on page one and never let go. It's as simple as that. That's the key to storytelling. You want the Reader turning pages to find out what happens next. Stephen King and John Grisham are solid-but-not-great writers but they're amazing storytellers. James Patterson is the worst writer in the world but he can tell a whale of a story. Story is King.

I'm always reading a couple of books at a time but stick with biographies and non-fiction. But it's still always about the story. Real life is infinitely more interesting than anything anyone can make up. Story. Story. Story.

Hope I've been helpful. And thank you for inquiring about my health. To be honest with you, if narcotics involved in the cure I kinda like being sick.


Blogger TytianaCS said...

Thank you for answering! You have no idea how much it means to me for any type of guidance.

'a muse. In other words: Your Inspiration'

Hmm . . . I'm pretty sure that was aimed in a particular someone's direction. In that case, years ahead of you!!! ;)

Once again, thank you. Sincerely.

4:23 PM  

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