May 2014

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like I accomplished much in May. But appearances can be deceiving.

On the writing front, I didn’t add a lot in terms of word count to my work in progress, River’s End. I reached about 10,000 words at the end of April, making up about the first fifty pages of my book. That was enough to enter the Killer Nashville Claymore Awards contest, the winner of which will be determined at the conference in August. At last check, I’ve only added about 4,000 words to the novel since then. Nothing to brag about, right?

Actually, there is.

While the word count is unimpressive, I feel like I’ve made great strides in pulling the plot of this novel together. I’ve been character building and outlining scenes for several months, but it’s taken until now to see how all these scenes I’ve been concocting are beginning to connect. Piece by piece I’m accounting for how each scene is advancing the plot in meaningful ways or adding new dimension to my characters.

Okay, yes, everyone says you should just write madly on your first draft and silence your inner editor. Let the muse take you, yada yada yada. I recently read an ebook by Jim Denney to that effect. A lot of what he had to say or quoted from other authors makes sense: Get into a writing routine, get the words down, get the story finished. Only then should you go back and fine-tune and clean up the mess you’ve wrought.

I get that. I do. And I fully intend to turn the muse loose during June. My goal is to reach the finish line of the first draft. It will take a lot of mad-dash writing on a daily basis, but now that I’ve got an outline I’m happy with, I feel like the words will finally begin to flow. In fact, I’m confident that they will, and I will keep you posted on my progress right here on this site.

So, without further ado, let’s set the writing stage as of June 1:

  • Word count thus far: 14,227
  • Word count goal: 90,000

Learning the craft

One of the most rewarding learning experiences I enjoyed this month was a nearly 90-minute long audio conference from Screenwriting U on the Mini Movie Method, using X-Men: Days of Future Past as an example. While this is obviously specific to screenwriting, novel writing follows the same basic three-act structure and the lessons imparted here can easily translate to novel writing. At the very least, the lesson will give you a better, more complete understanding of movies and story structure. So, when someone asks you to let them know what you liked or didn’t like about a movie, you will now have an educated baseline from which to formulate your response like a true movie critic.

(Of course, that’s not to say my movie reviews will all go high brow from here on. Nope, I still like many movies just for the spectacle, even if the story structure is lacking. The lastest Godzilla is a perfect example of fun, Saturday afternoon, popcorn-eating, creature-feature stupidity at its finest.)

Elsewhere on the writing-related front, I attended the monthly Nashville Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers Meetup and a pair of Tennessee Screenwriters Association meetings.

The Reading Room

As usual, I spent way too many hours in May surfing the Internet and reading articles on a variety of subjects. Some were for entertainment, naturally. Several were sports-related. But the majority were articles about writing or screenwriting, which I think is time well spent. The more you know, as they say. I also read several articles about beached whales. Why? Research, my friends, research for a story I am working on. You see, there is method to my madness!

I read and rated two more scripts in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition. Apparently there were a few scripts still in need of feedback and I happily volunteered to read a couple. Counting the five drama finalists I read, I think that puts me at about 175 or 176 scripts read since I took on the project in mid-December. Not that I’m bragging.

I also read Stone Cold by David Baldacci and the ebook edition of Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly by Jim Denny

DVDs watched:

  • The Ghost Writer
  • Along Came A Spider (I took copious notes as I watched this one to compare it to the Mini Movie Method of story structure)
  • War Wagon (in honor of my dad, who was a huge John Wayne fan, on what would have been his 81st birthday.)

Big screen movies:

  • Maleficent
  • A Million Ways to Die (30 minutes) – Yes, you read that right. I only watched about thirty minutes of this horrendously awful, boringly juvenile movie before walking out on it and slipping into the next showing of Maleficent as a consolation prize.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Godzilla
  • Amazing Spider-Man 3

Until next month, happy reading and writing!

 

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