Sunday, January 23, 2011

My first attempt at a log line for Goddess From The Machine

"When her little brother is murdered by a gang of teenage girls, Dakota's rage fuels her transformation into a cybernetic human weapon.  With the help of Val, a single mother who's baby has been taken hostage, and Jake, a child prostitute with a heart of gold, she undertakes a quest for bloody vengeance.  Will she find peace with this strange new family, or be consumed by her own power and become a monster?"

I really like the last line, but is it cool to put a question in a log line?  Should do some research on that.  But for a first pass, I think its pretty compelling.

Friday, January 21, 2011

oh by the way, I have 75 pages of a first draft of River Of Silence.

just saying.


The River Of Silence is about...

1.  Sam who thinks that life is what you make it,  but after her boyfriend explodes into a maggot, learns that life is actually unfathomable and beyond our control.

2.  Sam  is a girl who wants to experience love but NEEDS to experience heartbreak first.

3.  Sam is a girl who wants adult responsibilities, and gets more than she bargained for.

4. Sam is a girl who has innocence and youth but sacrifices it for (???  Sam needs AGENCY.  She needs to make more choices, risk more!)

5.  [protagonist] would sacrifice his/her life for (???????)

Well, it's a start.

Monday, January 17, 2011

On to the next, on-on to the next one.

So, I officially have a "good" draft of Goddess From The Machine.  Hoorah.

I have decided to pick up River Of Silence (damn, I'm good with titles!) again.  I'm 37 pages in, and have hashed out some ideas for the next 2/3ds.  I think I have a very strong script in a pipe line.

NOTE TO SELF:  This is a story about a 13 year-old girl transitioning into adolescence.   She starts off as Daddy's Little Girl, meets a Boy, begins pulling away from her father, is almost abducted by an alien and ultimately watches her first love explode into a maggot.

Clearly, I haven't fully worked out the character arcs.

Enough blogging, back to working.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

brain jelly

Too brain dead to make any real progress today.  I hate these days. 

Note to self:  smoking cigarettes is cool and you should never have quit.  What am I supposed to do while drinking coffee and wearing sunglasses now?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Story is conflict.  Also, character and plot only work together in a majestic symphony when the character is reacting to a tough decision (aka conflict).  Anything else is just exposition.  And exposition is gay.

So, I am going through Goddess From The Machine page-by-page and isolating every decision point.  Every moment where a character must choose between more than one course of action is an opportunity to reveal character and weave a delicious plot. 

So far, I have only really tracked one, of an infinite possible number, of plots.  And that's okay.  I could spend the rest of my life writing thousands of versions of this goddamned script.  What is important is that I ensure that the characters are always making decisions, that those decisions are true to that individual person and that those decisions move the plot forward in a (hopefully) interesting way.  That is character-driven drama.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Well, I wrote an entire screenplay that I thought was really awesome.  And it is...but I failed the ESSENTIAL CHARACTER QUIZ:

If anyone ever reads this blog, this might actually be helpful to others:

1.  [Protagonist] is a ______________ who thinks [life is like this] but after facing [these obstacles] learns that [life is actually like this]

2.  [protagonist] is a ____________ who wants _________________ but NEEDS _____________

3.  [protagonist] is a ____________ who wants ______________ but gets ___________

4.  [protagonist] is a ___________ who has _________ but sacrifices it for ______________

5.  [protagonist] would sacrifice his/her life for _________________

So somehow I managed to write a superficially "good" genre script without being able to answer ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS.

Jesus titty fucking Christ!  I will NOT begin my 3rd draft (or hell, 2nd draft revision C) without being able to answer ALL OF THOSE GODDAMNED QUESTIONS.

Note to future self:  don't forget the essential character quiz next time.

New Project idea (??)

 I insist on having a "back burner" project at all times.  I've been very inspired by Pixar films lately, and marvel at the incredibly tight, deliberate screenwriting that goes into them.  Sure, they're formulaic, but they embrace convention in the best, most effective way.  Every film (my favorites of the moment are Up, Ratatouille, The Incredibles and Toy Story 3) has a strong moral, or "take away" and they are clearly presented.  For exampe, Ratatouille gives it to you in the first 5 minutes-- "Anybody can cook!", and infuses every beat, scene, sequence and act with this mantra.  The scripts are incredibly well crafted, and I aspire to their level of storytelling.

So, since Goddess From The Machine is a pulpy, revenge tale based on the plot structure of Up, I am going to continue this trend by writing something that could conceivably be produced by Pixar, for children and adults, with a plot (and story!) as tight as the virgin Mary herself.

Since a hotel-noir has been rattling around in the back of my mind for the last 5 years, it may be possible for me to flip the story of a hapless hotel janitor pulled into a violent, lurid murder-and-sex mystery into a PG story of a hapless hotel janitor being pulled into an exciting and humorous espionage mystery.

As for an actual plot?  No idea.  But I've blogged it once and I'll blog it again, I REFUSE to start a script without having an entire plot on MOTHER*BLEEP*ING LOCKDOWN.  Pardon the censorship, but I'm practicing for my PG screenplay.

What would I call a film like this?

Hotel Deception (with an accent over the O.  Like De-sep-tiiion)?
Den of Spies?  too close to OSS in Cairo:  Nest of Spies.  Which is better anyway. 

Meh, petty things.

the worst part

So, I've written two pretty good drafts of Goddess From The Machine, but they both suffer from "cardboard character syndrome".  My characters interact well, read well, and are superficially charming, but they are ultimately flat and indistinct.  They all speak with the same voice --mine.  So it's time to dive into character.  And how do I start diving into character?  By writing brief biographies for them. 

This has always been incredibly helpful for me.  When I have to make decisions on a characters past, I am almost immediately begin to see ways in which these distinctions can manifest in more interesting interactions in the "present".  For example, after only a few minutes of working with Dakota's back story, I decided that her mother raised her as a boy, essentially, refusing her any feminine clothing or toys.  (I also figured out why, but I don't feel like explaining it here again).

Dakota's boyishness resulted in her being cruelly harassed by the girls in her schools.  Her hatred of these tormentors, plus her resentment of her mother for putting her in this position, lead to the development of a deep distrust and disdain for women.  Bada-bing.  Right there I have a character trait that can be used to create interesting conflicts with the other characters in the story.  How do I have her relate to Val, ostensibly a new "mother figure", with this new character knowledge?

So, this is great and all, but I FUCKING HATE writing character biographies.  It's such a fucking chore and takes me forever.  Not because it's difficult, but because I'd rather do anything, including blogging, than sit down and hash them out!  But it must be done.  It must be done.  IT MUST BE DONE!

Do I have to do one for Duckie?  (Yes)
Do I have to do one for Natalie?  (Yes)
Really?  (Yes)