WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: Pandora’s Box of Plotting Prep

a.k.a. Prompt Submission Update #1

It’s been an interesting week, so far. Having a shiny new story idea is both a blessing and a curse. I started with a one teeny tiny lil’ magic bean and it didn’t take long for that to sprout and shoot up to the clouds where I’m now dodging the footfalls of giants as I navigate where this idea will take me.

It began with an idea for the impact x SKYDANCE Premium Drama prompt that quickly evolved into so many scenarios that took twists and turns I hadn’t even considered. All of this because I kept asking questions and raising the stakes for my main character. I posed such questions to some of my writing groups and got some amazing results. It also led me to a writing community that specializes in medical guidance for more accurate depictions in fiction.

You know how people often joke about their internet search history? It’s even become a meme where the punch line is something like “It’s for a book. Honest.” or “Having to explain you’re a writer when someone sees your search history.” I have to say, once you go into a deep dive to develop a story idea, having the world at your fingertips is also a blessing and a curse. Before the majority of the world was blessed with wifi and access to the interwebs, research, as a whole, was a more cumbersome ordeal. Don’t get me wrong, back in the day, the tactile experience of digging through books and microfiche to do research really put me in ‘detective mode’ and got the creative juices flowing. However, sometimes, research was stalled because I had to return the books to the library or someone else had already checked out the book I needed. Then, I’d have to lug home half a dozen or more books–which, I guess counted as my workout for the day, right?

I will always love libraries and bookstores. However, there are so many advantages to researching in the digital world. The obvious and most important one for a writer is the speed at which we can acquire the information. No more rifling through indices or cross-referencing multiple sources. Now, search engines do the heavy lifting and we find what we’re looking for much faster. Another bonus is not having to worry about storage space, even though, one day, my dream house will have a most spectacular library in it. Currently, surface area comes at a premium, so I need to be selective with what I have in such a confined space.

Back to speed of knowledge acquisition. I’ve spent the last several days learning a plethora of information including but not limited to body decomposition, how many minutes after a lack of oxygen until brain death, along with a handy infographic of gunshot wound diameters upon entry and exit–and these weren’t even for questions I asked about my own WIP! This is where the curse part comes in after the blessing. It seems that answering one question leads to another, reading about other writers’ questions leads to further story ideas and more questions about those potential plot points. It’s a deliciously vicious cycle.

So far, this has been a fruitful information expedition. I should keep all the newfound knowledge in a reserve file, as I’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove. However, I need to stay on track because I only have a few weeks to submit this fully-formed story idea–times two because there’s the Grounded, Elevated Sci-Fi prompt I’m also working on. There’s still a lot more to be done but I’m hoping by the next update, I’ll have everything plotted out. While, they’re only asking for the story idea, I’d like to have drafted the pilot episodes and maybe one or two episodes after those within the next few months. It’s good practice and I’m excited for where these story ideas and questions will take me next. Thanks, Pandora.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: “The Subscriber Cannot Be Reached”

We’ve all been there. You’re on a website, they tell you to subscribe for more perks and features, you enter in your email address, and life goes on. I’ve been doing this for years. Newsletters, author websites, online stores. They have emails for everything these days. And it’s a good thing, too. Can you imagine if this information overload came in the old fashioned way?

Sheesh. Save a tree. Save the world.

I was alerted recently, yet again, that my email storage was almost full. I began with the Spam and Trash folders, of course, and foolishly believed emptying those out would be enough and I could return to my day, as super engaging and adventurous as it had been (Thanks, 2020. Not.). Alas, that was not to be. So, I went in and did my cursory scan of the various subfolders I’d created over the years, and commenced the purge.

Egads! I couldn’t believe just how much clutter had filled up my digital corner of the world. I didn’t know which was worse, how much email I had amassed and never deleted, how many places I subscribed to just to save a few bucks here and there, or the fact that the majority of the emails hadn’t even been opened yet.

When I think of the potentially important email I must’ve saved for reference back in 2012, I have to Marie Kondo myself and ask, does it bring me joy? I mean, I know I haven’t thought of it in years, so what gives? Well, I’ll tell you what doesn’t bring me joy, having to sift through a digital junkyard while thinking about my life choices.

So, what, pray tell, does this have to do with my writing life? Plenty. As plentiful as the emails that have been stuffed into my email account–by my own doing. I decided to finally open some of the pertinent ones, especially anything to do with writing tips, author information, and writing associations. What I realized–and this might be what can get me promoted higher than Captain Obvious–was that I’d been missing out on a treasure trove of resources that had been right there all along.

When I renewed my memberships to the my writing organizations, I took special care to read up on their newsletters, truly absorb the information and in just a matter of days, expanded my world after such a big face palm of wasted opportunities. With resources literally at my fingertips, I’ve been able to explore new writing competitions and submission calls, that, if I really had the drive for, I could’ve already been slaying since last year.

I totally get that life happens and there are circumstances beyond our control, but now that I’m back in the driver’s seat, it really feels good to see and appreciate what’s out there. I had a story idea and needed some input about the plausibility of a scenario. I asked the question across a few writing groups I was in and received dozens of replies within an hour. It didn’t matter where they were in the world, the writing tribe answered my call. It was so gratifying.

So, the purge continued. The many competitions and submission calls that had long since passed, I binned. I kept articles and links to invaluable writing tips and tricks. Anything older than my recollection of ever subscribing to them, I just deleted en masse.

I extended this decluttering to my web browser. It should come to no surprise that I have multiple tabs open at all times. It’s a physical manifestation of the frenzied activity that goes on in my cranium. I decided to streamline my viewing experience and create bookmark folders for easier reference. I’d had enough of the digital hoarding that I had thinly veiled as “research” and decided to take a more tactical approach with a cleaner canvas upon which to create, well, anything. It’s absolutely freeing and I know the concept is so simple. It’s mind boggling how easily I had boggled my mind over this. Go figure.

Yesterday, I’d discovered I’d missed a Flash Fiction prompt challenge that had started at the top of the month. Rather than overwhelming myself to catch up, I’ve decided to do this challenge for the month of March. There’s no need to go for gold in the Masochism Olympics when I’ve already got a full plate with the impact x SKYDANCE submissions, as well as my WIPs that have been restless, dying to be heard.

From now on, I’m going to be more mindful before I click subscribe. I need to be more active in how I consume my infotainment. After all, when people take the time to create content, we need to show our appreciation for their efforts. I’m not going to register to join a webinar, only to miss it then not even watch the replay. Again with the obviousness, but I can learn so much at a click of a button. I have to ask myself why there are so many unread emails and files. I need to start reading the ones that matter and deleting the ones that don’t.

Decluttering an email account has done more wonders than I’d initially realized. The task of streamlining my consumption, is helping me also keep focused on my goals and utilizing the resources that can help me attain them. And that, my friends, definitely brings me joy.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: impact x SKYDANCE

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, who founded Imagine Entertainment back in November 1985, are responsible for an eclectic collection of film and television over the decades. They had a hand in bringing us films such as Willow, The ‘Burbs, Parenthood, Kindergarten Cop, The Doors, Backdraft, My Girl, Boomerang, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and Get on Up. Our television screens takes us into the world of Sports Night, Felicity, 24, Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, Empire, and many more. This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s safe to say that you’ve seen at least five of their productions in your lifetime, so far.

When I discovered that the dynamic duo created Imagine Impact which last year collaborated with Netflix to launch a global writing opportunity, it was an overwhelming but exciting chance to inch my way out of my comfort zone. They cast a wide net in four category submission calls for feature films. While I ended up not submitting to two of the genres that interested me, I kept my ear to the ground for any upcoming submissions.

This year, they are teaming up with Skydance TV to seek out new content for television series. Impact x Skydance is looking for two categories for this first submission period. From February 11-March 7, 2021, writers from across the globe can submit their story ideas for a premium drama, or a grounded, elevated sci-fi series.

Now, that I’ve been in a solid writing routine for the past three and a half months, I feel a little more comfortable getting uncomfortable for this artistic endeavour.

I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself–says the girl who has ideas for both categories. However, to my relief, I don’t need to write full scripts but need to have “a well-thought out idea and writing sample.” The writing sample needs to be a screenplay or a teleplay that showcases my writing. That will be my first task. There’s also a 30 second elevator pitch video that I have to submit for each category. More details can be found on the impact x Skydance FAQ page.

My next month of Writerly Wednesdays should be updates on the highs and lows of this challenge. No matter what comes of it, I’ll have focused on getting my work out there, which is the whole point of my getting back to my writing.

I’m excited and low-key freaking out over this but it’s definitely something to look forward to. Check out the site yourself. It’s an amazing opportunity that, with today’s technology bringing the world closer together, is too good to pass up. I could sit back and watch another submission period draw to a close or I can look beyond myself and stretch my imagination to the infinite possibilities that await. I invite you along for the ride.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: WYSIWYG?

a.k.a. Reading and Watching as a Writer

Do you try to lose yourself in a story only to find yourself noticing things like plot holes, inconsistencies, or inspiration for a story idea? Is it really what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)? Once I’m in writer mode, I find it challenging to detach and just enjoy a story for what it is. The complete opposite was true when I had stopped writing for a while. I didn’t have the drive to write so my consumption of stories were more to pass the time than to actually study them. Is there a middle ground?

As a visual learner, when I read a book, I’m also catching myself observing everything from word choice to syntax. I even look at the formatting and layout. The placement of words on a page, the punctuation, the font choices, they each have a specific intention and impact. So do typos or misprints. In movies, we have artistic choices of camera angles, lighting, marrying words and action together for the most impactful or meaningful scene. Each book, show, and movie you dive into is a masterclass in storytelling, the dos and the don’ts, or even the whys and the why the heck nots.

Are there really any rules in story creation? Sure, there are tried and true formulas that people swear by while others opt to break from convention. Just this week, the topic for specific story templates (rom-com, hero’s journey, etc.) were up for debate in one of my writing groups. I’m going to delve further into these and my WIPs on an upcoming Writerly Wednesday post.

While I don’t make definitive reading/viewing decisions based on ratings, it’s interesting to see what other people think prior to and after I experience the medium. I look at descriptions and (hopefully) spoiler-free reviews on sites such as Goodreads, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes. Since we’re not currently interfacing with friends and family like we used to, social media is where I go for in-depth discussion–or all-out word wars–on opinions and observations of the piece. I like watching YouTube videos that break down plot points or explore hidden meanings behind the various Easter eggs that are sprinkled throughout a movie or episode. When I’m left with more questions than answers, I like to find out what other people are thinking, too.

Much like previously mentioned in regards to music, each of us also see and appreciate books, tv, and film differently. So whether I’m seeing things as a writer or consumer, it makes for interesting discussions when I bring up something that intrigued me that someone else missed or vice versa. It’s also worthwhile to have those discussions how it might appear that we’re looking at the same thing and come away with very different interpretations.

Whether it’s on paper, device, or screen, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your writer brain is permanently switched on. We should soak in every learning opportunity where we can. It makes us better writers. You can discover in real time what other people think of the book, show, or film. From that you can determine what not to do or how you’d tackle the same challenge differently. One thing is for certain, when I finish reading or seeing a great story unfold, I’m excited and inspired to make sure my stories are the best they can be so I can share them with the world, too.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: The Music in Me Vol. 1

a;sldkfj

Hello and a Happy Hump Day to you!

This month, I decided to bring back Writerly Wednesday, the series where I share things I’m up to regarding my WIPs and any new projects on the horizon. Fan fiction I’ll still keep for Fangirl Fridays. Haven’t decided yet if I’ll do these along with or alternate them with my Friday posts. Ideally, I’d like to get more words out to help me stay on course in my writing journey. Thank you, as always, for joining me here.

Do you listen to music as you write? What type of music interests you? I’d love to hear what other writers enjoy and utilize in their creative process. Some people have said that music inspires a productive writing session. I’ve tried that in the past. My tastes are eclectic. I enjoy the classics, be it from 30 to 300 years ago. I have more movie and television scores and soundtracks in my collection than I have or heard of the current Top 40. Regardless of the genre, while I do love music that has lyrics, I often get distracted by the words while I write because I start singing along and losing focus on the task at hand.

[Image Credits: Woman listening to music while writing, Woman singing. I provide clickable links on the images I use, These are listed because I haven’t been able to figure out how to link individual images in gallery displays yet. 😊]

Because of this, I’ve taken it a step further and have created soundtracks specific to my projects. I’ve actually mapped out scenes where I can imagine the score or song playing in the background in time to the intensity or emotional flow of the moment. In these cases, if the song has lyrics, they do matter in how the scene unfolds. Other times, I’d find a piece of music that speaks to me, relate it to the WIP I have before me and create a scene from there.

Does it always work? No. But it makes for an interesting writing exercise where I discover a perspective I hadn’t noticed before, nuances in character dynamics that had not yet been explored if not for letting the music move me through the plot. It can take me out of my comfort zone, at times, but it’s intriguing, as well. I’ve often kept the newer take on the same scene as I’ve found it works better in the story.

It’s important to keep in mind that as with anything, perception and interpretation can differ with each person. I can interpret the words to a song and find a sad connection to a memory that resonates each time I hear it. Another person might hear those same words and music and feel nostalgia. As readers and writers, we each bring something different to the table. Therefore, music is a transformative experience tailored to the individual listening to it. Same goes for the reader’s experience. Harnessing those emotions in each scene we write can have greater impact on the reader as they immerse themselves in our stories.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.