A Quickie on the Utter Bullshit That is a Writing Career

Good news:

Today, I received my FIRST EVER copy of REAPER in print. It’s fucking gorgeous and beautiful and I am not ashamed to say I snuggled it for a while.

 

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So. Pretty.

 

And after we snuggled and whispered sweet nothings to each other, I thought about the release. THAT’S RIGHT. Other people (hopefully) will be reading this thing. And not only will they be reading it, they’ll have OPINIONS and shit. And while REAPER is awesomesauce with a dash of sarcastilicious (Thanks, Renee), there will be people out there who hate it. Don’t worry, I’ve got whiskey.

And then I thought, HOLY TWAT WAFFLE I have ANOTHER book coming out next year, which only leads to more rejection via review.

Which brings me to my point–

The rejection never stops.

Say it with me.

THE REJECTION NEVER STOPS.

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AHHHHHHHHHHH

 

But seriously, it doesn’t. It starts with query letters, then edits that make you cut out your favorite scenes, and then reviews and THE CYCLE NEVER ENDS.

And the anxiety? I’ve got a new WIP in front of me that I’m completely in love with, but in the dark recesses of my mind there’s a voice. A voice that says it doesn’t matter what I write, because it’ll suck. It all sucks. It’s like the editor voice, but on steroids. Fucker.

It’s taking some time and patience and a tall glass of whiskey and coke in my “I ❤ BEAVER” glass to get through it.

A career in writing, or any of the arts in general, is complete bullshit. But I’ll be DAMNED if I ever stop.

 

 

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Oh HELL yes, It’s On

It’s just after 8am. What are you doing?

Last night, after I made next to zero progress over the last week thanks to moving across the country, settling into and filling an empty apartment, and dealing with adjusting to my new life as being a “work from home, stay at home, TRAPPED AT HOME” person I chained myself to the computer and banged out 5k words. Not enough to get caught up, but sweet damn did I have fun doing it. You’re a bitch, NaNoWriMo, but a bitch I can’t wait to spank.

Also, I’ve mentioned on twitter (@authorkatm) that I was considering starting a vlog, which I’ll link to this one. Last night, I recorded a dummy vlog post just to dick around with the editing tools of Windows Movie Maker and see how retarded I look on film. The verdict is – it’s going to be difficult to master the editing and I only look semi-retarded on film so the vlog is a go. I’ll be recording a real post tonight and hopefully posting  tomorrow once I edit the shit out of it. So, you know, grab your glass of wine and look for that.

In other news, I’m currently reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I have to share that fact with you because never have I been so desperate for a novel not to end. It’s incredibly interesting and delves into one of my absolute favorite subjects – god mythology. Go to Barnes & Noble, go to Amazon, go to wherever and pick it up. Then get Anansi Boys by the same author. Incredible novels.

Adaptation Series: From Screenplay to Novel; Part Three: The Cast

As promised, following is an email I sent to Raul and his responses to my questions regarding character:

Me: Alright, basically I need a breakdown of the characters. Physical descriptions and their personalities. If you could, I need the most information about Zachary, Jacqueline, Michael, and Daniel. You have a lot of background information on Zachary in one of the scenes, but I need more. Tell me what kind of person (angel) he is. What are his limits? What does he believe in? What are his greatest weaknesses? Greatest strengths? If you were to have a conversation with him about ethics, would he be more cynical or optimistic? What is his biggest secret?

These are just some questions to get your brain moving. Anything you want to tell me about them will be helpful.

Once you get this back to me, I’m going to do a “test” chapter. I’ll write a scene in prose form and I’ll need you to let me know if I’m making the characters act or think a way that is outside of the way you imagined them. I want to be as consistent as possible.

Raul: Ok, physically, all the angels and demons appear to be mid 20’s to early 30’s. They are all fit and slightly above average height, except for Levi who is much taller and more muscular than all of them. If they are all around 6′, Levi is 6′ 8″. They all have darkish long hair. Zach a lighter brown and Dave is dirty blond. No pony tails or curls. Think pre Darth Vader Anakin for length, but more grunge band, less blown dry.

They all wear darkish clothes and dark over coats, as if to hide wings, but there are no wings until they want them.

Zach and Dave are scruffier in the face than the rest who are clean shaven, except for Levi who has a painted-on looking beard and mustache. Michael should look like a rich, upscale version of the rest of them, and Dave would seem a little poorer and more disheveled than the rest.

I will leave you with that for now and think on the rest. Writing for what people see is much more shorthand than really writing so most of my answers will not have existed before you asked the questions. I just have to revisit the script and see where it takes me.

Raul (In a later email): Jacqueline is in her mid twenties, sandy blonde. Very fit and pretty but sportier than girly. I see her as a community college girl who has some sort of office job that is beneath her brains. No relationship or much dating. Has fun with her friends while working toward some kind of career. She questions everything and could probably be a lawyer, but her aspirations aren’t quite that high.

Zach and Mike have always been best friends. Still are, but Zach started feeling sorry for himself some since getting demoted and it affected the friendship a little. I would say for plot’s sake that Zach’s biggest weakness is sympathizing with humans rather than just doing his job. That could also be his greatest strength if you tilt your head to the left a little. [This little gem is why I’ve been telling him he should write prose, too. He has a talent for metaphor.] He believes in doing what’s right, even if he gets in trouble for it.

I see the angels as living solely for the job of keeping our fates in line. Their limited spare time is simply spent quietly admiring the world, and humorously discussing things they observe about us, like in the opening scene. I think of that scene in CITY OF ANGELS where you see all the angels on the beach just watching the sunrise. Kinda like that, but mixed with being modern and having a sense of humor. The job is really all there is for them.

Dan is purposely an enigma for obvious reasons. We shouldn’t know much about him except that he is easily bored and seems to get along well with angels. I see him almost salesman-like in the way he jokes and tells the angels things “on the down low”. He is liked by the angels he hangs with, but they notice that quality about him. They just figure it’s a demon thing.

That’s all I got, and its more than I needed the movie watcher to know, so, if you need more, feel free to interpret anything deeper however you see fit, and hit me with anymore questions as they come up.

So far, the most interesting aspect of this whole process is the difference in the character development process. While screenwriters (Thanks, Paul for clarifying) have a limited need for development as long as there is a solid character arc for the protagonist to follow, other fiction writers require a solid character background. You could even say we over develop – some, if not most, of the background we make up for our characters never make it into the story, except to provide a hidden justification to their actions.

Now that I have a character basis, a sample chapter is soon to follow. I’ll be sending it to Raul to ensure that I’ve gotten the tone and his vision correct, then pass it on to you kind people to massacre.

To be honest, I’m a little nervous about it – the writing, not the massacre. I’m used to those. It should be noted that I am keeping in my head the fact that this screenplay is someone’s baby. As a writer, I understand the anxiety that comes with someone picking apart your work. So, my cuts will be made swiftly and with a sharp blade. It’ll hurt me more than it hurts him. I hope.

Adaptation Series: From Screenplay to Novel, Part Two: First Obstacles

Welcome to part two of my effort to adapt the screenplay “Guardians,” written by Raul Fernandez, into novel form.

Over the last couple of days, I gave the screenplay a first read through – making notes on nearly every page about questions I have regarding scenes, where chapters should end, and what I’ve discovered about the characters as I’m reading. During the read through, I determined my first three big obstacles:

First:

I had no idea who the protagonist was until the inciting incident occurred, which was the screenplay equivalent of almost three chapters in. Atrocious, right? Well, not really. Screenplays aren’t meant to be read. They’re meant to be watched. So, while the protagonist, Zachary, made his appearance in the first scene – a must as far as prose is concerned – his role of protagonist was unable to be determined just from reading dialogue. But, if this were to be watched on the screen, camera angles and usage would show the audience right away who the protagonist is.

Solution: An appropriate POV. I’ve decided on third person omniscient for this project for a few reasons; the first and most important being that the protagonist is not in every scene. So, first person was not an option. Zachary will, of course, be given the POV character role in the scenes where he appears.

Second:

Flashbacks. Perfectly acceptable, and highly effective in screenplays; not so much in a novel.

From The Writers’ Companion by Carlos J. Cortes and Renee Miller:

“We advise avoiding flashbacks whenever possible. Not only does a flashback hinder the pace, it stops the story action by taking the reader back in time where events are finished. Going back in time can never have the immediacy of the present in the story. In addition, there is nothing worse than wasting five minutes reading something that has absolutely no relevance to the active progression of the story.

Of course, there are times when flashbacks enhance the story and can’t be avoided. But if we do need to use them, we must try to the limit the flashbacks to one or two per novel.”

“Guardians” has an entire scene devoted to flashbacks of Zachary’s tasks as a Guardian. While the editor in me screams “get the axe!” the information contained in the flashbacks is important to the understanding and development of Zachary’s character. He commits a pretty big act of rebellion, and not for the first time, so the reader must be given a chance to understand his way of thinking – why he would act the way he does.

The solution to this one will take some thought. I can safely say that at least one flashback will remain, but I will have to determine which is the most necessary and how I can distribute the information contained in the others through different avenues.

Third:

These are not my characters. While I can make assumptions about who they are based on how they interact with each other and on their own, I cannot be certain that these assumptions are correct. Should I need to add events/interactions/conversations (which is more likely than not) I will need to know that the characters would indeed act that way.

Solution: An interview with the writer. Watch for my next post for the entire transcription of the interview.

So far, an eye opening process. I hope you’ll continue to follow me through my journey.

Adaptation Series: From Screenplay to Novel, Part One: The Bones

There are two writers in my immediate family: myself, and my stepfather, Raul. The difference between us (well, the biggest besides DNA) is that he’s a screenwriter and I’m a short story writer. Anyone familiar with either of these animals knows that they are different breeds, entirely.


A screenwriter concerns himself with dialogue and the bare bones of a situation. I.e.:

CHRISTIAN enters. He’s angry.

CHRISTIAN

What the fuck, Miriam?

A short story writer, or novelist for that matter, concerns himself with everything else: setting, mood, internal dialogue…

Arms clenched at his sides, Christian kicked in the door of the piece of shit apartment he shared with Miriam.

Not for much longer, good for nothing bitch.

When she didn’t come running to see what the bang was, Christian went looking for her. It wouldn’t be hard. She wasted her life away in front of the television in the bedroom.

The glow of the television flickered on her face, but she didn’t acknowledge his presence.

“What the fuck, Miriam?”

See the difference? 179 words difference, to be exact. The scene is, at its bare bones, the same. But the screenplay version leaves room for interpretation by the producers and director who will work on the movie. The prose version shows you what you would’ve seen in the movie. I read a blog by an author who writes screenplays BEFORE his novels… he called screenplays “the bare bones” of a novel. In essence, a form of an outline. This, to me, was an interesting idea.

Why this blog series? I’m taking on a project. I will be adapting a screenplay written by my stepfather into novel form. Mostly, I just want to see if I can do it. But also, the story for this particular screenplay is my favorite of all that I’ve read of his work. The characters are solid, the plot has no holes, and the story is believable.

This series will be my account of all the problems I come up against (I’m a realist. There WILL be problems), the successes I have, the questions I come across, and the overall process of adapting a screenplay to a novel. Let the games begin!

Classic Author Spotlight – Prisoner C33

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde [say that five times fast] (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish writer and poet known for his wit, cynicism, and dry, “fuck you,” writing style, and is a personal favorite of mine.

His two most well known works of prose are: his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), in which Wilde expresses his ideas on the supremacy of art and beauty; and the play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) – one of his four society comedies.

At the height of his fame, while The Importance of Being Earnest was still on stage, Wilde sued the father of his then lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, for libel. The subsequent trial brought to light evidence which led to Wilde dropping his charges and being arrested himself on charges of gross indecency with other men. He was convicted and sentenced to two years hard labor.

After Wilde was released, he left for France and never returned to Britain. While in France, he wrote his final work, the Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a poem commemorating the harshness of prison life and is authored, “Prisoner C33.”

He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six of cerebral meningitis. The epitaph on his tomb reads,

“And alien tears will fill for him/Pity’s long broken urn,/For his mourners will be outcast men/And outcasts always mourn.”

While I undoubtedly would’ve hated Wilde had we gone to high school together, pompous ass that he was, there is also no doubt to his talent. Reading his society comedies is like reading the smirk on his face as he witnessed Victorian life around him. A master of sarcasm and blatant insult, Wilde’s work is, to the observant reader, insightful and entertaining.

If you’re a Wilde virgin, I recommend picking up The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde spends a lot of time on the soapbox in this novel through the character Lord Henry Wotton, but it’s worth reading. For you e-book whores, it’s usually free through Amazon/Kindle. Now you have no excuse. I expect a report.