Categories
Favorite Things The Stream Writing Resources

The Night Mind Index

I am a huge fan of the YouTube channel Night Mind.

I would never be one of those people that would go all “I was following these guys before they were cool,” I’ve been a follower for a long time. I love to see the care and that they put into their videos and analysis.

So when I learned they were putting their work into a user-generated collection of ARGs and unfiction, I was very excited.

It’s been live for a while and I do like checking in and seeing what’s going on.

If you have any interest in interactive fiction, ARGs, or horror and mystery, this is a great resource to check out.

You can find it HERE.

And if you want more? Check out ARGNet.

Categories
Student Resources Things I Learned Writing

A Few Things I Learned about Horror Listening to The Magnus Archives

Yes, I am extremely behind the times but I am firmly in the fandom now.

The Magnus Archives is in its final season, and I finally took my podcast app’s advice and started to listen at the beginning. It’s a masterclass in long form and short form horror and suspense. The larger narrative unfolds almost organically, with hints that begin almost immediately and payoffs that might wait episodes and episodes to pop.

The individual episodes are amazing. Each is deeply creepy in its own individual way, but it’s also fun once the overarching story becomes clear to go back and see those hints to the greater horror.

You can make the best horror yourself

The audio/podcast medium of the Magnus Archives means that the listener is left to imagine the horrors described themselves. Often the descriptors and subtle acting are just enough to let the audience create in their imagination something more horrible than what might be able to achieve in any other media.

I say it might be more effective than even prose, because we are engaging with a sense that is often far more intimate than reading words on a page. Someone is telling us a story, telling it just to us, and that is special because it creates an intimate connection not only with the person telling the story but the story itself.

That extra little bit of verisimilitude goes a long way. It makes things feel a little bit more “true.”

Don’t let the bigger narrative get in the way of this episode’s story

Like you might have guessed, I am a fan of the bigger story in the Magnus Archives.

The whole thing is set up very cleverly. Each episode is the written account of a paranormal experience that is usually read off by the head archivist of the Magnus institute. Two seasons are dedicated to doing things this way, firmly establishing the world of the story using accounts of side characters within the bigger narrative.

The bigger picture in the early seasons are hinted at by the notes that the archivist leaves after each account, talking about further research and follow up that could be done.

It’s a very interesting pattern, almost a fractal.

The important thing is that each account stands alone, even if they are a big piece of the greater mystery. Only once those rules of the universe are established (and firmly) do the creators think to expand on that established structure.

What would cosmic horror look like to the normal person?

The hardest thing about cosmic horror to me is the idea that it would exist completely unnoticed.

If you read Lovecraft, you’d know that horrors, monsters, and old ones are seen by a lot of people. And everyone seems pretty chill about it. This seems to imply that, while it might not be common, the horrors and unknown are at least understood to exist by people. Miskatonic University has a library of books well known enough that people study and try and steal them. And going back, Bram Stoker’s Dracula had its character of Van Helsing to come in and understand the horror of the vampire and give information to the protagonists so they can fight their evil.

In modern mythos how this is handled goes a couple different ways. Either it’s a thing that happens, there is a society, cult, or organization that covers it up, or it is a novel phenomena that is just discovered. But where there are people, there are store cashiers, grocery store workers, and random strangers on the street who are going to interact with them. To think that nobody’s going to notice weird shit happening, especially if the story takes place in any kind of populated center, is kind of ludicrous.

And when you do notice this particular plot whole you start seeing it everywhere. It does open some very interesting avenues of underdeveloped potential.

What would happen if you lived next door to a death worshipping cult? Or in the apartment underneath someone who’s been taken over by a cosmic horror?

The Magnus Archive knows!

These stories are told from the point of view of the NPCs or background characters. They have no idea that they are part of a much larger, much more frightening narrative. Their passive brush up against the uncanny might have left horrible personal scars, but they have no idea how close they were to absolute disaster.

It’s a great conceit and one that really could only work in a long form, episodic format.

If you haven’t had the chance, now is the perfect time to go and binge the Magnus Archives.

Categories
Movies Student Resources Uncategorized Writing Resources YouTube Film School

Video: Lessons From the Screenplay Talks about Annihilation

I am always astounded by the insights that Michael Tucker has in his Lessons from the Screenplay videos. It constantly challenges me to engage with movies and scripts in deeper and deeper ways.

This is a particularly good one that came out recently. If you like it, I encourage you to go to YouTube and watch more of his videos.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!

Categories
Student Resources Writing Advice

Editing From the Bottom Up

One of the most important pieces of writing advice I heard from a fellow student at Full Sail: Edit from the bottom up. 

This means scrolling down to the bottom of the document and reading it, essentially, backwards, looking for grammar mistakes along the way. 

We all think that our scripts and prose just flow from our brains with perfect clarity, but that isn’t always true. When reading through a piece of writing in the usual way our brains can fill in what might be missing, because we know what the words are supposed to say, even if they don’t actually say them. 

When we read these sentences out of order, we can’t get lost in the genius of our own writing. We’re able to see when things may be unclear, missing important pieces of information, or sections that aren’t properly formatted.

Taking the time to go through your work like this requires you to actually do your work in advance though. So, perhaps consider not putting your assignments off until 11:01 pm on Saturday?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!

Categories
Life Student Resources

Graduation: The End is Nigh

This is a sad blog post to write, but my time as a student at Full Sail is coming to an end. In a month I’ll be walking across the stage. So I must begin a project that I have been meaning to put into motion for a while…

I have said month after month that I was going to put down on my blog the resources, knowledge and advice that I have to repeat every month to the class I help tutor, Writing Workshop I: Film. So, in my last weeks and beyond, I’m going to be writing blog posts about my experiences and what I’ve learned, so that I can continue to help my fellow students, even after I’m gone. 

I am going to be grouping all of these posts under the Student Resources category, so they will all be in one place. If you have any specific questions, or have a specific topic related to a class, you can send me a message through the contact page. 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying me a coffee by clicking on this link. Your donations go a long way to keeping this blog live, and I appreciate anything you can spare. Thank you!

Categories
Screenwriting Uncategorized Writing Writing Advice Writing Resources

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 problems I had with Patron Saint just weren’t there.

So learn from my mistakes! Plot out your script before you start writing. When you have a map to go by, you’re much less likely to get lost.

How to Plot

I’m not going to tell you that my way is the only way. Every writer has a way of plotting out story that works best for them.

Some people like being more free. You could keep a notebook and jot down ideas, connecting them in a mind map. You could storyboard major set pieces. You could also put together a loose narrative story. You could also go the tried and true route of putting each scene on an index card and carrying them with you.

Some people work best with a more rigid system. They use bullet points and go through each scene, putting loose notes what’s happening in each place. You could also put together a whole story bible, with every bit of information that you’re going to use for your screenplay.

Personally, I like Post-it notes. I use a pad of little two-by-two Post-its, and put each beat of the story on a note. I then put all the notes on the table so I have a literal bird’s eye view of my story. I can look at the progression of the story, where there might be holes, and rearrange beats as required. If I want to carry them around, I have a folded up piece of poster board that fits in my bag. I just stick my story on the poster board, and then every table becomes a desk.

However you do it, make yourself a map of your story so that you don’t have to rely on that fickle Muse to get you through. You’re going to be busy, so you can’t rely on her.

Categories
Writing Writing Advice Writing Resources

Writers on Writing: Dean Koontz on Character

If I don’t care about the character, the story is meaningless.

–Dean Koontz

Categories
Screenwriting Writing Writing Advice

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. As an screenwriter, I really need to analyze as many screenplays as I can. This is a good way to actually turn it into a long term habit that can only benefit me and my career long term.