Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Sixteen Year Screenplay

FADE IN:

FLASHBACK:

Once upon a time in the ancient year of 1994, there was a writer who had stalled out on his first attempt at a novel and on a crazy whim, invited a friend to co-write a romantic comedy screenplay inspired by the print personal ads they browsed during morning hot chocolate breaks at work.  They joked around about playing matchmaker with a co-worker and setting him up on a series of blind dates via the personal ads.  Instead of actually playing matchmaker, the aspiring writer  thought that the concept would make a funny movie.  Characters that get caught up in a crooked game of cupid and get set up on a hilarious blind dates before going on one that actually works.  The working title was, “Personals.”

MONTAGE:

So, the writers commenced drafting the script in their spare time over the next five years, hanging out in coffee shops in the San Jose, California area.  They knew nothing about screenwriting and screenplay format.  So, they went to a couple of seminars, and the aspiring writer proceeded to buy or borrow from the library every book he could find on screenwriting.

TITLE: Five Years Later – 1999

The aspiring writer moved to Utah to get married and corresponded with his co-writer via email, tweaking the 7th or 8th draft of the script and circulating it to some contacts the co-writer had.  They received enough encouraging feedback to finalize the script, register it with the Writer’s Guild of America West down in L.A. and started sending it to agents and managers in Hollywood in 2001.

The consensus feedback was that the writing was good, but the story lacked focus or wasn’t ready for the big time.  The story concept of Personals ads and blind dates wasn’t working.

End of the First Act.

TITLE:  Three Years Later – 2004

After moving to Charlottesville, Virginia and letting the screenplay gather dust in his mind, the writer’s wife and he began discussing the most glaring problem with the script, the main female lead.  She was two-dimensional and looked to be written by two guys who didn’t have a clue about the inner motivations of adult females.  Yes, this is an indictment of twentysomething men and the lack of insight many of them possess about the women in their lives.  So, writer’s wife proceeded to help him develop a stronger character.  In so doing, the story had to change.

They de-emphasized the personals ads (because after “You’ve Got Mail” and the explosion of the internet, print personal ads were almost obsolete) and created a new conflict where the coffee shop was struggling and about to be sold and the male lead tries to save it, but falls in love with the female lead representing the huge corporate chain trying to buy the coffee shop.  So, similar in tone and style to You’ve Got Mail, but with a coffee shop instead of a bookstore.  The title changed to “Coffee Shop Philosopher” and they proceeded to work on several new drafts to get the story right.

TITLE:  Five Years Later – 2009

In the small mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona, the writer finally finished the umpteenth draft of “Coffee Shop Philosopher” and registered this new version with the Writer’s Guild of America West, with his wife as co-writer.  They entered a couple of contests and hoped for some small measure of success with the new story and strengthened characters, but it was not to be.  They didn’t win, place, or even show, to use horse race parlance.

End of the 2nd Act.

TITLE:  18 months later – 2010

In the desert climate of the Phoenix Metro area, the 3rd Act begins.  After spending the past year and half working on the beginning of an epic fantasy series, the itch began again to fix the Coffee Shop Philosopher script based on some new articles and books the writer read to really solidify the strongest, most interesting storyline and characters.  A script that he could imagine actually being made with recognizable actors and that would be entertaining to watch.

So, he is going to spend some time on this script in addition to his fantasy novels.  He intends to make it the best possible work and then attempt to win or place in a contest and/or sell it to Hollywood.  After sixteen years of sporadic effort and new ideas, it’s time for this movie to end.  And since most movie goers love happy endings, he’s shooting for that result.

TITLE: Intermission – audience participation requested.

So, now we come to the audience participation portion of the blog.  We’ll break from third person point of view where I refer to myself in the past as written above, so I can ask for your input.  Below is a quick poll where I seek your reaction to the movie title and logline (short description of the movie) below.  If you wish to leave a comment to explain further that would be even better, but a poll response at the minimum would help me focus my rewrite to get a sense of what stories people like.

Call this market research and you are a direct participant in helping a movie get made in Hollywood.

Below is the working title and the brief story description.  Please respond in the poll box below…

Coffee Planet

A man fights to save a struggling coffee shop from takeover by a global corporate chain, and unknowingly, the woman he loves.

Thank you in advance for your responses.

Hopefully, the unfinished story of this screenplay can end well as the writer proceeds through the Third Act and Finale of the story and the proper ending can be written.

TITLE:  The End

FADE OUT:


Relenting gracefully

Why now?

Once upon a time in Austin, Texas in the glorious year of 2005, I was accused of being a Luddite by my boss at the time because I didn’t have a personal cell phone.  The reason we were discussing the topic at all was because I was requesting approval for a company cell phone.  I didn’t and don’t consider myself anti-technology.  After all I’m a data manager by day and spend all day on the latest computer my company provides.  But I am what you may consider a late adopter of certain uses of technology and that is what brings us to this post.

Being an aspiring writer, I have sought to understand new and effective means to build a career and as such have discovered through research and recommendations from industry veterans that having an online “presence” can be an effective way to build an audience and awareness of my writing.  So, as many of you know, the first step for me was to launch a blog centered on writing back in August 2010.  I intended to use that to discuss writing topics and my personal writing.  However, in the back of my mind, has been the itch of Facebook as a means of connecting with more people.  Many of the published authors in my genre use Facebook as an extension of their website and/or blog.  So, why not emulate those successful writers who have gone before me?

Call it both pride and prejudice.  My older kids are on Facebook (and MySpace before that) to connect and chat with friends and the concept of “social” media gave me a headache.  For those who know me, I am not nor ever was very social.  In fact, in many ways it is obvious that I would aspire to be a writer.  Writers predominantly work in a solitary environment, emerging occasionally to interface with agents, editors, publishers, and if successful, fans.  While I was working up to all that, I was obstinately avoiding Facebook.  Regardless of how many people I knew that were on FB, or how many people sent me personal invitations to join and connect, I resisted.  I am using LinkedIn for business level networking and didn’t see the need.  I am not yet a professional writer, so why do more than start a blog?

So, why now?  Well, yesterday, one of our teen daughters just up and created a Facebook profile for my wife and our teen son did the same for me.  Merry Christmas, parents!  So, there it was, my new account just sitting there.  I could either delete it, ignore it, or just relent and use it.  So, I will not only use my new FB account, but I will gracefully embrace this social media tool and create synergy with my blog in discussing epic fantasy writing and other related topics.

If nothing else I can avoid the perception that I’m a Luddite.  It is 2010 after all, time to become current with the times.

–Mark


Scott's Grimoire

MY SPOT OF INK: my ramblings on the ups and downs of writing a fantasy novel (or anything else that grabs my interest - books, food, movies, life)

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The thoughts and passions of a hopeful future author.