What I recommend when I tutor

At Full Sail, I help out with the Writing Workshop 1 – Film class, in the creative writing program. It helps me out a lot, and I hope I help others, too. I tend to keep recommending the same things over and over. So in an attempt to keep everything together, and to give people a place to go to even after they get out of the class, I’m going to be doing a couple posts on the resources that I constantly recommend to people. They will be broken up into categories: Podcasts I love podcasts! And it’s not just about having a long commute. Podcasts are a great way to get your news and industry information, because you can find the time to absorb it when you can. And because it’s not a visual medium, it’s a little bit less of a time suck. Put on a good podcast while you’re cooking, cleaning, or commuting, and you can gain a lot of valuable knowledge while you’re doing an otherwise mundane task. YouTube Channels God bless YouTube. The nature of the medium means things are generally put out in fun-sized chunks, but there is a growing section of long form content that is good when you want to go deep into a topic. I’ll be sharing my favorite channels, including channels dedicated to the art of cinema, interviews with working industry professionals, and how movies are put together. Books Yeah, I’m a sucker for good, old physical books. Because I’m… Continue reading

Prepare Thyself: Plotting to Dominate the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge

Zero Draft Thirty is a fun, rewarding experience… until it isn’t. The easiest way to ensure that your ZD30 is a success is to plot everything out in advance. When you’re writing a large chunk of text over a long period, the burnout comes swift and it comes hard. Don’t try and make it more difficult on yourself by going in without a plan. Pantsing vs Plotting In the great debate of “flying by the seat of your pants” versus “plotting it all out in advance,” I am what is known as a reformed pantser. I believed wholeheartedly in going with the flow and letting the characters tell me what to do. NO MORE! When it comes down to it, you need to plan out longer work. When I was writing my feature The Patron Saint of Spies, the first draft was done intuitively. I let the story flow through me and went with my gut. I only worked when the Muse was talking, and it took me forever. When I finished, I read through the draft, and I did not like what I saw. Knowing that, I plotted out my next script (a ridiculous chase movie called Certified Public Accountant) pretty extensively. Even though it was a silly thing designed to boost my confidence, I was amazed at how much faster my second script went to my first. I was able to put out a seventy page draft in a matter of weeks instead of months, and the plot… Continue reading

The 1, 2, 7, 14 Formula

On the Go Into the Story blog, I found a really good bit of advice that I’m going to work on folding into my writing habits. It’s called the 1, 2, 7, 14 Formula and it’s split into four parts: read one script a week, watch two movies a week, write seven pages a week, and put in fourteen hours of story prep a week. When you put it that way, you have a clear setup for long term success. Scott Myers did the math: If you do this, here’s what you will have done in one year’s time: You will have read 52 screenplays. You will have watched 104 movies You will have written 2 feature-length screenplays. Spread that out over 5 years: 260 screenplays, 520 movies, 10 original screenplays. That means you could have read every one of the top 101 screenplays as voted by the WGA, plus 159 more. That means you could have seen every one of the IMDB Top 250 movies, plus 270 more. That means you could have written the exact number of original screenplays Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat, The Bodyguard, The Big Chill, Grand Canyon) wrote before he sold his first one. All by setting these simple goals: 1, 2, 7, 14. So I am going to actively do this. I’ve already set up a slate of screenplays that I have in my collection that I’m going to read in the next couple of weeks, and I might do blog posts about them.… Continue reading