Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Week in Writing #8

Last week, I was bemoaning about writing and not finding an audience. This week the posts on the blogs, with the exception of this one, had more hits. Maybe it was the subject matter I was writing about, but it was nice to see more views and actually get a comment on the TCM blog for my review of The Mummy (1932).

The commenter wasn't happy with me and disagreed with my opinion, but it was nice to see I wasn't writing into a vacuum. The whole idea about writing about movies is to hopefully start a conversation with people that have like interests. Hopefully, they do that at Trophy Unlocked, but the important thing is the conversation.

Had a lot of free time, so I was able to send out more queries and do some more writing. Honestly, I wrote around dealing with Familiar Stranger. I've had an issue with what I was revising. What I had written before didn't seem to be working for me, but fixing it was a little harder than I thought. I did think about it, but I didn't write through it.
Instead, I continued working on the screenplay adapted from A Killer Blog. I've pushed the screenplay to 81 pages and about 12,000 words. It's interesting work. In order to cut down on the time without cutting down on the plot, I've eliminated a character all together. While I think it works in the book, the screenplay is a different thing all together. My plan is to write it out and then worry about length and formatting. I'm a little less than halfway through the book. I don't think it's working out to be a page a minute, though. I'm shooting for a screenplay that's between 90 minutes and 2 hours in length.

Doing this work really makes me appreciate the screenplays that had to be churned out back in the 30's and 40's when the studios were pushing a film a week out their front gates. The writers wrote complete stories that ran about 90 minutes or less. They weren't perfect necessarily, but being able to tell a story in about 75 minutes is quite a feat.

Speaking of older films, wrote four reviews this week, including The Story of Temple Drake (2243 words), Goldfinger (3605 words), Casino Royale (3141 words), and Mad Love (2019 words). All are ones I plan to post at some point in the future. I like having some in the bank just in case.

I even did some edits on the Mathmagical script for the comic book. Nothing too major, just some edits and a bit of action Paul recommended. He's better at the grammar than I am, but he also has some good ideas, too. The dream of the comic book hasn't died, but I need to be sure of a few things before I decide I can afford to pay for an artist, or artists, to draw it.

All said, I wrote about 19,200 words this week, sort of equally divided between fiction and non-fiction. Big week.

Read something sober today on an agent's website. After they agree to represent you (which they say is less than 1% chance), it will still be 2 to 3 years before the book is published. That was really scary to read. Maybe that was another reason I sent out so many queries; twelve this week. Torn between wanting to get them all out, which I would hope would increase my chances of finding representation, and the fear that they will all come back rejected. Two of the twelve I sent out have already been rejected. I'm sure one of them actually read my submission, since they seemed to get it, but they claimed they didn't have the time to take anyone new on. Disappointing.

But the point is to keep at it. Keep writing, keep posting, keep submitting and to keep trying to make the dream come true.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Week in Writing #7

Sometimes I feel like I'm not reaching an audience. This past Friday, I posted a review of Freaks (1932) on Trophy Unlocked as well as on the TCM Classic Film Union or CFU. After spending several days researching the film, watching the film and writing a review about it, you hope for more than 5 people to read it on Trophy Unlocked and only 44 on the TCM CFU. Not really rewarding, but that doesn't deter me from wanting to write them. I also know that it's hit and miss as far as getting page views.

Usually a big review gets 70 to 80 hits on Trophy Unlocked and a 100 on TCM, but I've had a couple that seem to have taken off. My Robocop review on Trophy Unlocked has, at last count, 846 hits and Peter Pan has 840. On TCM, two reviews, Godfather and Things to Come, have 1.6K views each. Why? I don't know. I write these because I enjoy writing them, but knowing someone is reading them is rewarding and getting a comment is the icing on the cake. And comments are really rare. Godfather and Things to Come only have 3 each, which is like 1 comment for every 533 views. Seems low to me.

On a good week, this blog only gets 5 hits, so I guess I should be used to writing for the void of the internet, with no response or feedback. This leads me back to querying agents. While the hit rate is slightly better, it seems to be the norm nowadays for an agent to only get back to you if they're interested. That really sucks. You don't know if the agent ever really saw it and read your query. Worse is the too quick answer, like within minutes or hours within submission. Even though the query is basically a form letter, you can feel that you've put more effort in the query than the agent did reading it. And finally, there's the feedback which is not helpful in the least. Not being right for an agent's list tells you nothing about the quality of your own writing. And the well wishes at the bottom of the letter, the one wishing you luck finding representation, only reads as a hollow gesture. But still I send them out hoping against hope that mine will get through and find the right agent for me.

As for writing this week, I completed a review of Lost in Translation (2003) which clocked it at about 2500, almost 2600, words. As far as fiction, I'm still retracing my place in Familiar Stranger, the book I've been editing on my own. Over the week, I've moved the story forward by about 2000 words. While I was struggling with moving that forward, I started working on a screenplay, an adaptation of one of my earlier books, A Killer Blog. I've gotten about 24 pages in and 3480 words. All told, I managed to squeeze out my thousand words a day.

Would love to hear about someone else's writing journey, but that would mean someone would have to leave a comment.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Week in Writing #6

Sometimes one week can seem a lot like the rest. To a third-party, the act of writing is an awful lot like typing and watching someone type is not the most exciting to thing to do, which probably explains why writing is not a spectator sport.

I had a sort of breakthrough this past week on Familiar Stranger, the book I have been re-writing on my own. There was a certain part of the story that I could never get to work to my own satisfaction. I've played around with it for two full re-writes, so on the third go 'round, I finally came up with a better approach. That's one of the things I like about editing, making things work that hadn't before. Making it better is what it's all about.

Heard back from one agent I queried last Sunday; a rejection, what else. The next day, so you know he gave it a lot of thought. The box score for anyone counting or caring is 6 out for A Killer Blog, including one complete manuscript and 8 for Past Present. While I trolled Query Tracker looking for more potential agents, I didn't send out any new queries. Later next week, I'll have the time to send more out.

Got an invite for a book party for a friend of mine in November. I'll admit to a little jealousy, but if I don't go it's because it's out in Palm Springs. I'd like to go and be supportive. His is not a fiction book, but I would hope he'd do the same for me.

As far as my thousand words a day goes, I think I'm still on course. I finished a future review for Trophy Unlocked: The Mummy (about 3770 words) and I know I did that many on Familiar Stranger, only some of the work has been going over the same part of the novel, making the changes I mentioned above. No firm word count, I'm afraid. I kept track the first couple of days and I was over 3000 combined, but again these are editing word counts. I did publish one review on Trophy Unlocked:  Frankenstein (1931), which you are welcomed to read.

Anyway, that's the week that was.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Week in Writing #5

I'm not sure who said it first, but life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. With the heat descending on Los Angeles this weekend, I had hoped to stay in and get some writing done. However, our clothes dryer went out and we needed a new one, so most of Saturday was spent on finding a reasonably priced one and scheduling to get it delivered. I won't bore you with the details, but something like that takes a big chunk of time and energy.

Posted a new review on Trophy Unlocked for Dracula (1931), as part of our Halloween horror film salute. I also simultaneously post a version of the post on TCM's CFU. I usually get more hits there, but I wouldn't be doing them if it weren't for Trophy Unlocked. I like having a deadline and working towards it. I also wrote another review for Friday and did some research on one I still have to write for later in the month. We're looking at five films in October, Dracula being the first, followed by Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man and Freaks.

Spent some real quality time on my editing for Familiar Stranger. I had to rethink some of the plot points, which is still part of the process. I'm a little more than half way through this revision. I've gone back over the same section, but this week, I think I did about 4000 words. (Coupled with my review of about 3900 words for later in the week and I'm still keeping with my thousand words a day.)

No new pages from my editor on Public and Private, so I have nothing new to report on that.

As I promised last week, I spent sometime today sending out queries for representation. At present I have 15 out: 10 for Past Present and 5 for A Killer Blog. So far only one agent has asked for more pages, the full manuscript for A Killer Blog. I didn't get any rejections yet, so I would say it's a good week on that front. All four books have the same lead character, so I'm hoping to have a viable series when I'm done.

I started doing this blog to keep myself honest and on task and I think it helps. It at least makes me keep myself accountable for the work I'm doing. Even if I'm not where I want to be at present, I have to keep working on that goal.