Progress Report 22 – Writing is Rewriting

NewImageI’m a few days early but who cares.

I’ve spent a few days with my first draft and I received some great feedback, not feedback that my first draft is great but feedback that will help me get there. The script has many problems right now, some are fixable others are part of the story, I just hope that they are not too big for the people in charge.

One big change I made though is the ending. I completely changed the ending. I tried to do something different at first but I was told in no uncertain terms that the ending sucks. It did, in part intentionally but I have to admit that id did not work with the rest.

I’m currently waiting for some more notes and then I’ll tackle those issues. I have some ideas on how to dress some problems. The supporting characters need some more space to breathe, something to do and I think I have an idea to accomplish that. The script is still a couple of pages short so that should work out nicely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy with what I wrote but if I really want someone to buy it, it needs to be better, a lot better. In preparation I watched some German TV, and while I think that my story is better than what I saw, my execution is still a bit lacking. I think I have my work cut out for me.

Let’s get down to the numbers.

One book/screenplay: Does my own screenplay count?
Two movies: Writing is going really well but other aspects of my life are seriously lacking, so I do what I always do when I’m in “that” kind of mood: Silly action movies and cheesy romantic comedies. No, I’m not going into details about “that” kind of mood, I’m way too obsessed without involving you.
Seven pages: I think we established in the last few weeks, that seven pages isn’t the issue anymore. Seven good pages, that’s harder.
Seven hours: Orlindo is hard at work and I’m already thinking about my next, probably also german, project.

I’m currently filling a piece of paper with some random ideas. I don’t know which one is going to make it, they all seem equally bad but If I’m totally honest, now that I’m looking at the piece of paper, I think I have a favorite. I’ll probably have to sleep over it but I think I know what my next thing is going to be. I know that I should probably return to “Down Under” but I don’t have an idea on how to include a villain yet, maybe after this one. Who knows maybe I have a great idea tonight.

Coming up with ideas is probably one of my favorite parts of writing. That feeling you have when you think of that crucial part of the story, priceless. Unfortunately it’s hard work after that and for my next Project I’m starting with the characters and not with the plot. I have a setting but then it’s about the characters, what they need and what the want and then I’ll try to figure out a story that helps them achieve that.

It’s going to be a different process for me but I’m optimistic that it will improve the finished product.

Progress Report 21 – First Draft

The first draft

He was right.

This is a big one. I did it. I finished my script.

Well, not really (you’re never really done) but I have a first draft that I’m quite happy with. I’m not doing the numbers this week. You can probably imagine that I spent most of my time writing and everything else had to take a little break. I have to give some props to John August, his tweets about his write sprints were really helpful and made me write regularly.

“Die Klientin” is probably the fastest I ever wrote a script. It took me less than a month. I mentioned in an earlier post, that I’m really focused at the moment and I hope to keep that momentum (#ProjectMomentum) going. I’m a bit short at the moment but that’s something I’m going to fix in the next couple of days and weeks. I’m confident to have a decent 90 page version by the end of September.

I don’t know what I’ll do after that, I might go back and rework the Australia idea or I might start something from scratch (or a really old outline). I might have to do a vision quest or something to figure that one out. Riding my bike to work and my (almost) daily runs have proven quite fruitful in this area. Seems there is something to the saying: “Mens sana in corpore sano”. I feel really great. My weight is dropping and the more weight I drop the more pages I churn out. I should have started this years ago. In a way it’s fitting that I finished my screenplay roughly around the same time I reached the 10kg weight drop point. If 10 kilos of weight loss equal a first draft, I think that another then should get me to the final draft.

I’m going to tell you more about “Die Klientin” and what I learned during the process in the following weeks, while I rework it and correct all the silly mistakes I made but let me mention I few things while the memory is still fresh.

“Die Klientin” was my first german screenplay in a while. It was really strange at first not to write in English. I’m so used to writing in English that I had to look up some german words. It’s strange feeling when you have to look up words in your mother tongue. I think I have to start reading german books again and maybe even watch some German movies or TV shows.

I mentioned in an earlier post, that the idea is actually quite old. I found a document with a 2003 timestamp on it. It felt strange to come back to such an old idea but it was fascinating how fully formed most of it was in my brain. I’m not saying that the 2003 outline didn’t change but you can’t deny that it is the same story with the same basic plot points. Even more strangely, it seems like I had similar experiences 13 years ago that made me write something that I can still relate to 13 years later.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

There’s other exciting new though. Orlindo finally did some writing. He cleaned up his pitch for his current idea and it’s finally something one can work with, in the sense of there’s enough there to actually think about how to improve and tell the story. I’m really excited about his idea. It’s really different from my sensibilities and that’s what makes it interesting.

Stay tuned.

Progress Report 20 – Not A Teenager Anymore

Progress Report 20, #ProjectMomentum is not a teenager anymore and I feel confident enough to call it a success. I’m especially happy with the last couple of weeks. If you read my last few progress reports, you know that my writing has been quite steady and that #ProjectMomentum bled out into other areas of my life. Overall I feel great about how much I improved (writing wise and personally) over the last couple of weeks and I hope to keep going at this pace. I’d be a shame to fall behind again.

There’s one thing I have to admit though. 20 weeks doesn’t equal 140 pages, far from it. I’m a lot better than Orlindo but that’s not saying much (…sorry…but it’s the truth…). My Australia script amassed a decent page count but ultimately that project is doomed in its current form. I still have a great feeling about “Die Klientin”and the plan is to be done around October. I’m away the for two weeks (end of September beginning of October) and I hope to use at least one of those weeks for finishing touches on the first draft.

But let’s look at the numbers:

One book/screenplay: I’m reading along with Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass and I started with another Graphic Novel “Black Hole” by Charles Burnes, good and inspiring stuff.
Two movies: I caught up on some movies and queued a few for inspiration and research. “Sing Street” still stands out as one of my favorites this year but “500 Days of Summer”, “The Assassination of a High School President”, “Billy Elliot” and “The Man Who Knew Infinity” were all really enjoyable.
Seven pages: They keep coming. I had to adjust a few things and I’m probably have to add a few things in the beginning but so far I feel really confident with my 43 pages. I went through it and I really liked the fact, that there is almost no “fat”, every scene leads somewhere or introduces something new. I know that’s supposed to be the car ein all screenplays but it never came together so easily for me.
Seven hours: Still waiting on stuff from Orlindo. I cobbled together the idea/premise for “The Company” but that doesn’t really count. Through the Masterclass course I met a german writer and we exchanged feedback on our projects.

That’s it for today. I’m quite busy and can’t think of anything interesting right now.

Progress Report 19 – Life Lessons and Space Cowboys

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Sadly he’s not alive anymore. 🙁

I’m skipping that whole numbering scheme. There aren’t enough decent movies with numbers in the title. From time to time one might pop up…but I’m done looking for them.

I had a busy week. I’m still on track with pretty much all my projects. Some things are still in shambles though, totally my fault, no-one else to blame but that’s life. But more about that later.
#ProjectMomentum is experiencing a “soft-reboot”. We’re (Orlindo and I) are still committed but we need some more structure, especially him. He’s contemplating abandoning his blog (at least for #ProjectMomentum purposes) but he promises to comment here more often. We also established a “mail answer rule” to make sure that things don’t fall through the cracks and on of us (usually me) has to wait 4 weeks for an answer. 🙂

We are confident that these changes will help us relaunch #ProjectMomentum1 and make us more productive….speaking of productive, this weeks numbers are:

One book/screenplay: Reading a lot for school.
Two movies: I’m really saddened by Gene Wilders passing so I popped in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and for a little while I wasn’t so sad anymore.
Seven pages: I’m currently on page 25, I have to go back though and adjust a few things, but more on that later.
Seven hours: That bloody project still keeps me up at night but it’s a bit on the back burner right now. I hope that Orlindo has some new material ready to have a look at.

Let’s get down to some actual blogging.

I’m quite happy with the pages I wrote so far but there is something in my writing that I need to address and I’m not just talking about “Die Klientin”, I’m talking about pretty much everything I wrote. The protagonist is usually some version of me, I’m not saying that that is necessarily a bad thing but I’m realizing that I’m protecting my protagonist too much. He needs to suffer more, he needs more flaws (not that I’m lacking in that area). The same is true for antagonists and/or love interests, even if they are inspired by real people or are mashup versions of real people, they need more flaws, they need to create more drama, even if I really liked those people, I have to turn some of them into assholes. Maybe that’s the reason I got stuck with “Down Under”, everyone was/is too bloody perfect.

Typing this, it seems quite obvious but It’s harder than it sounds. In a way I’m writing about friends and who wants to hurt his friends? Maybe that’s why I gravitated towards animation and sci-fi. Too removed from reality, no problem in torturing your space cowboys.

You’re probably wondering what the life lesson part is, well, if you shouldn’t treat your characters like real people, maybe real people shouldn’t be treated like characters, I mean let’s face it, when was the last time your life worked out like a movie? When was one romantic gesture ever enough to change some girl’s mind? I’m not saying it never happens but the odds are slim.

I should stick to space cowboys.

  1. It just occured to me that #ProjectMomentum sounds an awful lot like Project Mayhem, I say very fitting.

Progress Report – 18

Apparently there’s no decent movie with the number 18 can think of right now. Well, there are movies with that number in the title but this is not one of those blogs.

I’ve been busy. I had a nice weekend with a decent birthday party. My weight loss project is going well (my birthday wasn’t as bad as I feared on that front) and for some reason I feel like I have my “shit” together. I don’t know why. There are so many things that are not going according to plan but for some reason I have this feeling that everything is going to be alright if I keep putting some effort into it. Maybe that’s why I’ve been writing more. I just finished a little writing sprint, I planned to write an hour but after 45 minutes I reached a good spot. I know how to continue and I plan to do that tomorrow.

But let’s talk some numbers.

One book/screenplay: I’m reading “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Wow, what a great read. A friend recommended “Frühling der Barbaren” by Jonas Lüscher, so I’m giving that one a try as well.
Two movies: Still behind on the movies. I still have to finish “Stranger Things”.
Seven pages: As of right now, I’m on page 13 and I know where page 14 leads to.
Seven hours: That bloody project still keeps me up at night. Looks like it might get interesting in springtime.

Let me end today with some music. I promise that one of the next posts will have more text. We’re updating and refining the #ProjectMomentum rules, so stay tuned, it might get interesting.

Progress Report – 17 Again

Smiley face wallpaper 017

The Graphic Novel is so much better.

Progress report 17 on the 17th of August…admit it, you’re a little impressed. But this is not just a vanity post, I have actual things to report. I mentioned that I’ve returned from an inspiring holiday and I haven’t been lying. It’s not the idea I posted though, for some reason I was drawn to an old idea of mine that I never quite fell in love with but for some reason it just overcame me yesterday and I wrote seven pages. Yeah, seven *fucking* pages in one sitting. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s do the numbers.

One book/screenplay: I’m doing the Aaron Sorkin Masterclass, so that counts a bit but I’m also reading (and re-reading) some books for my students. To Kill a Mockingbird is always a good read and I’m preparing Watchmen for one of my classes. Good times.
Two movies: I’m a bit behind of movies. I skipped a couple of big releases but inspired by my journey I rewatched Seven Years in Tibet an Kundun. I recommend those two as a double feature, it’s interesting that you can make two movies about basically the same thing in two totally different ways. This happens a lot but these two movies are both unique.
Seven pages: Seven pages and I hope to add a couple today. It seems that it makes sense to let ideas settle for a while and return to them, so far all the scenes and moments and characters just seemed to appear on the page in a fully developed way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that what I wrote is perfect (or even good) but it just made sense to write it this way.
Seven hours: Still thinking about that bloody project. I’ll tell if something interesting happens.

That’s it for today…my fingers are itching for some pages so I’ll leave you once more with a stupid YouTube Video.

And it’s happening again.. but I keep trying

Never give up

Never give up….

Surprise, surprise…it’s happening again. I’m neglecting my blog again and I have no real excuse. I’m ding many things but unfortunately writing is not one of them, maybe this post makes me feel so bad about not writing that I start immediately but somehow I doubt it.

It seems like #ProjectMomentum has failed (at least for the moment). I totally blame Orlindo for that btw. It seems that he’s not able to find the time. His last post is from May but the last real #ProjectMomentum post is from March. It’s not just his fault but one of the big ideas was to make each other feel bad for not writing and if one person “quits” that part doesn’t work. I’m hopeful that this might change though. It’s another reason why I write this post, to make him feel bad and embarrassed fror not holding his end of the bargain1

I’m going on vacation next week and as always I hope that my writing juices are revitalized by that. I’m going to Tibet and I confident that I’m going to see many new things that spark my creativity. I’m not sure how Internet works in Tibet/China but maybe I’m able to post something from there, either writing or travel related.

I filled my iPad with books, comics and movies and updated all my writing software and made sure that the correct files are on the devise. Who knows, maybe I’ll finish Down Under in the plane2 or maybe I have an awesome new idea.

As for my/our current projects. I’m a little bit stuck with Down Under. I neglected it for a couple of weeks and I lost momentum (pun intended). I hope I’ll find my momentum in tibet or on Crete, that’s where the second part of my journey. Just relaxing, it should be possible to find some time there.

Ok let me end for today with this uplifting message:

  1. Who am I to talk. 🙂
  2. One can dream.

Progress Report – 16 Candles

…well, this is awkward but I have a really good excuse, well a few actually. The last couple ow weeks have been crazy. Work and other things were quite time consuming and I had to prioritize.
I hope that I can readjust my timetable in the following weeks (holidays are on the horizon) and to get the momentum going again.

One book/screenplay: I read quite a few books for the oral matura. Some of them were rereads and others were new discoveries but all of them quite enjoyable.
Two movies: I watched and rewatched a couple of movies as well. I haven’t been to the cinema in a while though. Saw Nice Guys in theaters, that was cool.
Seven pages: Let’s just move on.
Seven hours: There are some developments, too early to talk but there seems to be an interesting opportunity that got my creative juices flowing. I’m not giving you any details (I don’t want to jinx anything) but there’s a tiny chance that something interesting could develop here. As soon as there is something to tell, I’ll tell you. In the meantime I will probably use most of my development time for this.

I’m not going to write something else today. No time, I have to focus but let me end with this:

Progress Report – Slaughterhouse-Fifteen

Let’s get this off our chests, shall we.

One book/screenplay: Sandman still going strong but I’ve had a look at some other comics as well. I’m kinda in the mood.
Two movies: I’ve been looking into some TV, research for the pitch.
Seven pages: I focused on the pitch so I barely managed my page count but I hope to churn some pages out later today.
Seven hours: Definitely. I finished a rough movie outline and I’m collecting notes for the TV idea. I’m quite happy with the TV movie and the idea for the Tv show kind of excites me.

…and now for something completely different…I bought a new toy, well not exactly a toy but I’m the proud owner of one of those e-bikes. But nit just an e-bike one of those that let you drive with 40km/h. It’s awesome and in away it’s also part of #ProjectMomentum, remember that thing about my belly? I decided that driving my bike to work everyday would be great for my weight and my belly so I bought one and I used it for work twice already and it’s everything I hoped it would be.

It’s still cycling, just faster and less exhausting. You might argue that a traditional bike would be even better but I have to be honest, I’m not going to make that “journey” with a normal bike, it’s too slow and too exhausting so this is the only way I’m actually going to do it.

In a way this also relates to writing. You need to have goals but you have to make sure that you have the means to achieve them, don’t set ridiculous goals, make sure that they are realistic and achievable and make sure that if you can, help yourself by making things a little easier for yourself without totally selling out, I didn’t buy a motorbike.

That’s it for today, I have some grading and writing to do. I’ll keep you updated on my belly status.

Progress Report – Fourteen Hours

It’s Wednesday again, time for a shot update and some random thoughts.

One book/screenplay: Still reading Sandman. Still delighted.
Two movies: Due to reasons I will talk about later, I spend some time with some old TV shows.
Seven pages: I’m on a roll. I started to do write sprints 1. Basically I set a timer (I use 45 minutes) and I write until the time is up. Just writing, nothing else. It’s impressive how the clock and the limited time helps you focus.
Seven hours: Orlindo told me about an opportunity to pitch ideas. I decided to work on two ideas and maybe one of them will shape up to be good enough to present.

This is actually what I intend to write about today. I feel confident to share the ideas here, it’s not like I have any readers who might steal (or comment) on them so this is basically just talking to myself about these ideas. The ideas are for TV so I have to keep them simple and cheap, I decided to work on a TV Movie an a TV Show.

Movie idea: A couple of years ago I wrote a story about a guy who reconnects with that girl from High School who broke his heart/ignored him. There are two layers to it. It’s a romance movie and a courtroom movie. Basically he’s a lawyer who helps defend her. Sounds boring and that’s why I added another layer: He’s responsible for her problems. I’m not sure how down German Tv guys are with that kind of story and I’m not are how to end it. Does he get away with it, or not?

Series idea:TV is either about relationships or about some kind of procedure, most of the time it’s kind of both because you have to disguise the one with the other. I don’t have to list all these different kinds of shows but I always hated the ones that were too focused on one aspect. I went through my TV library and watched some pilots and looked for something that might work for German TV, well not in the sense of what show could I remake, what aspects would work in a show for German TV. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Fish out of water – adjusting to new surroundings
  • Why the change? – tragedy?
  • family problems – mother vs. daughter
  • romance with obstacles
  • issue of the week – crime? illness? something else?

So what do I see here? I see a family (or parts of a family) who moves to a new place. I don0t know why yet but it’s a big adjustment. It might be a new country, o just from the city to the countryside. Or why not a refugee family? The mother might be a doctor who helps people who don’t trust her and don’t really want her there and there might be a tiny village where everyone knows each other. And the boy from the family falls on love with the daughter of the local AfD politician.

…hmm…that sound quite interesting. I’ll get back to you on that one.

  1. John August tweets about his write sprints, so thanks to him for the idea.