No Easy Feat: Script Writing Update

Script Writing.  It’s hard.  Really hard.  I knew that going into this online course.  It is the reason I’ve stayed away from it for so long.  I give all the props in the world to the amazing writers who do it day in and day out on scripted television shows, and films.  There is nothing easy about it.  But it was a challenge that I wanted to tackle.

You’d think, as an actor, script writing would be the first thing I’d attempt.  Honestly, I toyed with it as a kid, but I never really stuck with it.  Why?  Because I loved performing the words more than I liked writing them.  Which is odd because I truly love writing prose, but in prose, you tell the whole story, actions and dialogue.  In script writing, you let the creative team and performers do that work for you.  It’s weird.

I’ll say this, though, it is allowing me to play in a sandbox that has been cluttering up my head and keeping me from writing my prose work.  Those characters now get to play, and get to be read by the people taking the course.  It’s pleasant, and I love the feedback, both good and bad.  And, frankly, it lets me play in space.  As in, outer space, which is my setting for my pilot script.

Of course, there is a character I’d love to play.  Of course I have actors cast in my head.  Why not?  It’s an exercise.

The challenge has been good for me so far.  I haven’t quite wanted to bang my head against the table.  While I’ve been frustrated with the aimlessness I’ve tackled this project with, I’m pleased with the story that is unfolding.  It’s hard, sticking to dialogue, trying to convey a story with only that, but I think, in the end, my prose work will be better for it.

Writer’s Block. Again. It Happens.

I rambled about failing last week, how it is inevitable, and how it shouldn’t be feared.  I hold firmly to that while saying: that doesn’t mean giving up.  I am not.  But I did, and still am, working through writer’s block.  It happens.  It cannot be ignored or assumed that it will never happen to you.  It does.  It’s ok.  But it is hard to find what helps to work through it.

For me, I work on random writing projects.  Sometimes just a page or two of an idea.  Or something rather silly.  Currently, I’m writing a vampire/werewolf piece.  It’s not my genre (I’m a full blown fantasy/dystopian girl).  So why?  It’s cheating for me.  The folklore and common knowledge of vampires and werewolves means I don’t have to build an insane new world to throw my characters in (not that I don’t love it, but I reserve that work for the projects I’m serious with).  There are already excepted parameters to work within.  In fact, I’d go so far as to recommend doing that if you are just starting out.

That’s what fanfiction offers.  I started writing in fanfiction.  The world is built, so you can focus on your style of storytelling, throwing in a new character to mingle with established.  It’s a playground to grow.  I will also support fanfiction for that purpose.  It is a spring-board to creating your own world.

Now, I work with these silly stories, completely my own, and yes, there is a touch of world building I’ve thrown in there since I can’t help myself.  In writer’s block, I have to get the muses going again, a jump-start if you will.  Something less-serious (though I quite like these characters I’ve built for this project) helps tap into what was being blocked.    It gets the fingers going, the characters talking (they tend to get jealous when you focus on something else), and suddenly you are back in the groove.

Granted, I’m not there yet.  I think I still need to play in this weird writer’s block sandbox for a little while longer before I jump back into my epic fantasy (Turned/Red’s sequel is still figuring its voice out, but I’m almost there).

So, writer’s block, like failure, is inevitable, but doesn’t have to consume you.  Experiment.  Fiddle around with different techniques.  Does it mean walking away from writing completely?  Like crafting?  Or painting?  Or reading a book?  Does it mean, like for myself, writing something completely different?  Don’t give in to it.  It will pass.  Sometimes the writer’s block is longer than others.  This one, for me, has been a long one, but I know it is almost over.  And then I won’t be able to type fast enough.

On the word: Failure, why it isn’t bad, but it is real

We run away from this word.  We refuse to say it out loud, though it plagues us, quietly, in our minds.  We bury it.  We burn it.  We have a huge social problem admitting it.

It is real, however.  No matter where we hide, we cannot escape it.  This little, forbidden “F” word: failure, will always be there, and if we are not careful, it will devour you.

So why am I talking about this?  Seems like an odd topic.  Sure.  But I’m going to share a little secret, empower myself to say it out loud, and then tear it down.

failed.

25 Of the Most Inspiring Quotes Ever SpokenIf you’re following me, you may be aware (or perhaps not) that I self published my first novel in November 2016.  I worked hard.  I spent countless hours formatting, creating a cover, working with a professional editor (who is amazing and I am honored to call her friend through this process), and setting up all the publishing details.  To say I was nervous and excited was an understatement.  I wasn’t looking for fame, but I was looking to succeed, otherwise why would any of us do anything?

The book came out, and a handful of family and friends humored me and bought my book.  Some even read it, and told me about it, and I love them immensely for it.  Being a complete novice, I tried to boost sales, create a presence.  BUT…  I failed.  Yes, I failed.  Other than a couple dozen copies, I haven’t sold any more than that.  I had hoped more friends and family would snag a copy.  That didn’t happen.  Books are not as hip as LuLa Roe (not to rag on the leggings) or nail things (I really am not very girly).  It happens.  I cannot blame the market or atmosphere.  This rests solely on me.

And, as much as it hurts (and it does), it is ok.

It is okay to let the Failure Monster slither and curl up to you.  You don’t have to let it bite you, or at the very least, you don’t have to let its venom win.  There’s never any instant success, or instant gratification despite how our society wants to operate.  Just because this first one failed doesn’t mean the next one will, unless I chose to let it devour me.  And I could chose that; I could chose to never write another book again.  I won’t.  It might not even be my last self-publishing attempt.

A great many great people said the dreaded “F” word.  They left us with gems that sound like cliches, but as someone who is slowly learning to accept the Failure Monster’s presence, those cliches are true.  You just have to keep swimming.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill

“Think like a queen.  A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” – C.S. Lewis

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you have failed by default.” – J.K. Rowling

My Book is On Sale!

When you’re an “indy writer” (the trendy way of saying self-published), you are your own marketer.  And publicist.  And everything else.  It’s a lot, I won’t lie, however, it can be fun because you can chose when to issue a sale.

No automatic alt text available.So…  Right now, I’m offering a digital copy, available only on Amazon Kindle, of my first book for only $.99!  Don’t have Kindle?  The app is free to download on almost any device (I have it on my iPhone).  Want a hard copy?  Well, that is available as a print-on-demand for $10.99 at Amazon and B&N if you wish!

Go ahead!  Snag a copy!  And let me know what you think in a review.  I’d love feedback.

Ying-Yang. Tip that Balance.

As a writer, I’m always analyzing my characters.  I’m evaluating them: how they work together; are they innovative; are they nothing more than stereotypes; are they effective.  So many questions, and important questions, to be asked of your characters, and important to answer.  If we want to continue to grow as a literary community, and we do, then we have to do our part to contribute.  What is beautiful is that we are doing that more and more.  We are adding more complex female and POC characters and the world is better for it.

So when I look over my characters, I have to find my voice in them, and find my particular trend… and I can safely say that I know what I like to do.  I’m a Ying-Yang writer.  I like balance in my characters.  If I have a wild-card, then I need to have a cool-headed character next to them.  Often this manifests in a female-male pairing.  No, I’m not just talking romantically (because I happen to subscribe to the fact that women and men can just be friends with nothing more attached).  I like balance.  I want a female character on the same ground as a male character.  Maybe that comes from my own experiences with friendships.  Or maybe that comes from my desire for equal friendships like that.  I’m not sure.  But I find myself doing it all the time.

In Turned/Red, I have Red alongside Hunt (though I throw Mal in the mix).  In my current novel, (working title Ghost Crown), Katja is beside her brother Emil (I also love writing brother-sister relationships that are functional and not confrontational.  Blame Joss Whedon and Firefly).  I like balance.  But I like to show that women and men can work alongside each other, or even in opposition to each other, and that their gender doesn’t play a part.  They happen to be a woman or a man, but that doesn’t define them.  So I pit them together or against each other.  I make them equal and I balance out the leads.

Or make them non-binary.  Spin that balanced top.

But I do it with women characters too.  Red is balanced by Mal.  Katja is balanced by Milanka.  Even the men are balanced:  Hunt by Byar and Emil by Goran.  Hot/cold.  Passion/Pragmatism.  But then I like to take those balance points and flip them.  Suddenly the passionate one is logical, and the logical one has done something spontaneous.

And then I like to tear that balance apart.  It’s an emotional moment, but also a plot moment.  I’m a character driven writer, so this makes sense.  I need an emotional trauma to turn the tide of the story.  Sometimes, that mixes into the plot based story-telling some writers favor, but it’s more about sharing the world through a character, and these moments define us as human beings, so why not a fictional character?

PHOTOS: 8 Found Hearts For Valentine's Day                                                                                                                                                     More
image found on Pinterest; if yours please let me know so I can credit

By now, you’re probably thinking that this traps me.  I’m stuck finding the balance between my characters instead of letting them be insanely complex or difficult people.  Not so.  A character isn’t always the level-headed one.  Sometimes they switch.  That’s human nature.  If you look at your own friend base, you’ll find the strange balance.  For many of us, that’s a group of people.  We all play a little part in balancing us out as a whole.  For me, that makes a well-rounded and multi-dimensional story.  Balance.  It swings one way or another, but the way it swings, the direction, and how you find that balance is the fun and intensely difficult part of story telling.  It’s also how to create a multi-colored world.  It rounds it out, fills it up, and creates humans.

For each writer, it is different.  Some will balance with physical descriptions.  Some do it with emotions.  Some with alignment (good vs evil).  Some do all of these.  They’re all good.  But we have to make sure to expand upon that starting balance point, and tip it over.  I think that’s why I start with my female-male duo or passion-pragmatic duo.  Then I tip them over the edge and see where that takes us.

Whether you start with a duo or a trio or a group of nine beginning a journey to destroy the ring (I could write a whole post on how that group balanced each other.  Just look at an elf and a dwarf), tip that balance.  Spin it.  Drop a rock on one side, and see how they slide and fall.

Women on the Shelves, We Need More

If you’ve been on twitter lately, and you follow lady writers, you may have seen a hashtag pop up.  #thingsonlywomenwritershere.  It accompanies the comments, and experiences, that women writers face every day.  Even today.  When I saw this movement pop up, I couldn’t agree with the sentiments posts from fellow lady writers more.  Though my experiences are “smaller,” in that I am an indie writer and not navigating a corporate publishing world, it is no less filled with the prejudices that society has placed in our minds.

Women have always had to fight to be heard in a “serious” manner in the writing world.  Whether it was writing under a male, or gender neutral pen-name, or writing in a manner that would appeal to male readers, we have had to cater to the prevailed societal pressures: that men drive sales in certain genres.  Women were only successful in romance, and “chick-lit” (a genre title I don’t much like).  Only a few women were “allowed” into the “all boys club” of fantasy, sci-fi, and action and adventure.

That’s insane.

Luckily, we’re in a time where women are flooding these genres.  And that’s fantastic.  Especially as a woman who loves those genres.  But the hardest part is this:  I’m hearing people, under their breath, saying that every book is about a female protagonist, and that it is overdone.  Overdone?  How many decades have we endured millions of books with male leads?  And I have enjoyed them, immensely.  A few years where girls are in the spotlight does not make up for decades of being sidelined as a poorly written damsel, love-interest, or random assassin girl who has little personality of her own.  Don’t just give us a sword, give us a story.  Women are CRAVING it.

I’m not saying we don’t need male centered stories.  We do.  Inclusivity and diversity doesn’t mean shoving the former aside.  It means opening the door and letting everyone play on an equal shelf, WITHOUT prejudice about whether it deserves to be there or not.  I want my new paranormal fantasy shelved with the likes of George R.R. Martin (not saying I’m on that caliber, only giving a male author example), and I want it sitting next to an Asian women’s story, a black man’s, a latino’s.  I want people to look at the story, not the gender or ethnicity of the character.

It’s a lot to ask.  But I’m going to ask it, because having people say that I’m a woman writer, writing female protagonists, that my books are only for girls, is a discrimination we’re led to believe is okay.  It’s not.  And that hashtag, #thingsonlywomenwritershere, needs to be looked at by everyone, men and women alike, and realize what we are doing… so we can stop it, and open doors for everyone.

Sequel? What Sequel?

I tell people, when they ask, and I’ve mentioned it here before, that writing Turned/Red didn’t just happen.  I didn’t just sit down one way with a story ready to pour out of me.  There was an idea, one I toyed with for months, a whim almost.  But that’s not unusual.  I’ve found that artists toy with ideas, pouring over them time and time again, molding and reshaping.

The actually writing of said ideas?  I wish that came faster.

People who know me as the girl who can sew a 1860s dress in a day (sewing, yes.  Research?  That’s months in the making, but I digress), were shocked, maybe even confused when I said that I had at least three versions of my story, all of them vastly different.  None of them making it past the third chapter.

That’s a lie.  The first one went to the sixth, I believe.

The point is, I tried writing this story enough times to think that it wasn’t going to happen, not in the way I wanted.  And I was right.  It took a late night drive after a long rehearsal for the opening words to pop into my head.  From there, everything fell into place.  That was about 1.5-2 years after the initial concept web/family tree.  Years.  Of hard character building, world crafting work.  I was just very hush-hush about it.  Tentative.  At least until I knew it would take.

So when people have begun asking for a sequel?  Well….

Sitting down to the write the sequel?  Let’s just say that it’s following in the footsteps of its predecessor.  I, naively, thought that since this world was built, the characters created, and the pivotal moments conceived, that I’d have it.  Naive.  But…  This is the first sequel I’ve ever written and I suppose I should give myself some space for that…still… when people ask about how soon that sequel is going to come out, I have to be honest and say: soon, but not this year.

I want to do it sooner, but that’s not how this one wants to work.  Now, I can say that I’m working on novellas, and I had a fun concept to do short, 1000 word one-shots of different moments, characters, etc. to keep the juices flowing.  Maybe post them on WordPress and later compile them.  It might yield the sequel.  Or not.

Granted… that paranormal fantasy I keep working on?  That’s not going away any time soon.  I’m actually excited with my own patience with letting this one un-fold.