Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Andrew Jackson

For Thanksgiving my friend and I are going on a "platonic getaway" to a resort in Carlsbad and I can't wait. It's such a weird phrase, isn't it? Not platonic getaway, that one's perfectly appropriate, but "can't wait." I mean, sure I can wait. And I will. But I can't wait, you know?

I'm just exhausted, from everything. I've been staring at this screen for half an hour, thinking I should work on my new pilot, or my old pilot, or the MAD MEN spec I started brainstorming about today. In the morning I always have the best intentions, such ambition and determination to come home and crank out masterpieces...but then I sit here and stare at the screen and my eyes are so tired from staring at screens, plus itchy since around age 19 I developed a severe allergy to life. So I find a fancy Urban Outfitters notebook I bought a few months back and scour my apartment for a pen only to find that my cat has stolen them all and batted them away into oblivion. Seriously, if I was about to be wiped off the earth I would have to leave my message to future generations in lipstick or purple Sharpie. I sneeze. I think about how I want to compare something you say you'll never do but then end up doing anyway to dating a Republican, but I cannot come up with the first part of the comparison. I sneeze again. I think about using a theme of powerlessness for my MAD MEN spec. Then I feel powerless. I want to write a SAMANTHA WHO spec because over the weekend I watched all of season one and I love the show because:

1. it is funny
2. it is female-driven
3. the music is really cute and catchy
4. despite its silly premise, it manages to be about something (choosing to be a good person or a bad person, and re-experiencing big life moments)
5. Barry Watson is hot

But I think I'd better write a one hour spec now, since I already have a WEEDS and there are literally only like 13 lower-level staff writer positions on half-hour comedies in this town. So your odds are just way better with dramas... and nobody will staff you on a one-hour drama based on a half-hour comedy spec.

Another cure would be to write both... and I have intentions to do so. But you know what happens then. Staring and sneezing and all that.

For the record, Bodega wine bar in Santa Monica does "Andrew Jackson night" every Tuesday and all bottles of wine are $20. I don't get it either, but I like the wine. (For another record, I am not drunk. This is just a vintage blog post, a throwback to the time before I used to be so practical and answer questions.)


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14 comments:

Kermet Key said...

Theme comes after your brain has done all the creative work. Wait until you can no longer think of any way to write the scene, dialogue, characterization, etc. THEN go back and explore the theme with your left brain and amp it up.
Other than that...yeah, I use school work as my procrastinating excuse. :)

Simone said...

Andrew Jackson is on the twenty dollar bill. ;-)

H is for hOWIE said...

write things out first. WRITE them...then write them again! Then type. it's MUCH easier on the eyes and something about actually writing gets my creative juices flowing.

try it out!

Jason A said...

12:29am post time! I wish I could stay up that late on a school night. But I get cranky if I'm up past ten. To be in my twenties again. [sigh]

LOL at dating a republican. My gf at the time and I broke up after a political argument before the Bush/Kerry election. How could she vote for Bush again?!?!

Dan Williams said...

KERMET KEY has the right idea, I would argue: finding the THEME is the first step because the PLOT illustrates the THEME.

For instance:

THE ENGLISH PATIENT:

THEME: if a guy gets attached to a woman and can't let go, he is committing suicide and will crash and burn one day.

PLOT: a guy's plane literally crashes and burns him when he can't let go of his dead girlfriend , and he ends up choosing suicide.

So the writer figures out WHAT the MAIN CHARACTER wants and then figures out if he or she succeeds (the RESOLUTION) and figures out why (the THEME).

If your character wants to go out for wine night and have a good time, does she or he succeed or fail, and why? The writing is easy, and fun. There will be an OBSTACLE and the MAIN CHARACTER will try to get around it and succeed or fail.

Suppose the MAIN CHARACTER meets SOMEBODY and wants to escape this person! But SOMEBODY needs a shoulder to cry on! So MAIN CHARACTER gives in, listens, cheers up SOMEBODY, and then SOMEBODY leaves abruptly! THEME: "sometimes you just do what the other person needs you to do, and you don't get thanked for it, so you just write the evening off and try again."

There. If you just keep asking yourself WHY you are doing WHAT you are doing, and if you succeed or fail, and keep a notebook, you'll soon have hundreds of stories to tell!

Amanda said...

Simone: WOW! I feel slightly stupid, but really I'm more amused by how the fact that no one carries cash has lessened the meaning of certain presidents.

Simone said...

As far as I'm concerned, all money looks like my Wells Fargo debit card. (The absence of money looks the same, funnily enough.)

Gnasche said...

I wrote a Samantha Who for the ABC/Disney Fellowship - Not because it's an ABC show, but because I couldn't make the female character in my spec pilot funny. So, I forced myself to write a spec with almost nothing but funny female characters. I liked the result. The problem ended up being that I couldn't write a decent voiceover for the bookends. It always sounded like a crappy Doogie Howser in my head. So, I just left out the voiceover. I still haven't gone back and fixed it.

I think I ended up making the female in my pilot a little too funny. I got story notes and they thought she was too sitcomy compared to the other characters.

Sarah said...

I have found that I can create stories better on a big white desk blotter. I write with a pen I like. And I underline things and make headings with different colored highlighters. I feel like a five-year-old but at least it gets new ideas out. Sorry Macbook, you're just a big hunk of internet procrastination...

Monsterbeard said...

Sometimes having a well-known blog can suck. I'm speculating

GregM said...

I dated a Republican once. She was cute. But this was before the Bush era.

Sorry you keep sneezing & are having writerly malaise...I think November must be a bad month for writers. I've got it, my friend Mel has it. Don't know what it is. Maybe you just need to give yourself a weekend off.

Dan Williams said...

STORY CREATION:

EXAMPLE #2:

THE DRAMATIC NEED (Or, what the MAIN CHARACTER wants):

She is feeling depressed in November because the sky is overcast and there's not enough light. So she wants more light.

THE PLAN:

She goes to a store that sells nothing but lamps and overhead lights to check it out.

THE OBSTACLE:

There are zillions to chose from.

GETTING AROUND THE OBSTACLE:

The helpful clerk teaches her about great halogen lighting.

SECOND OBSTACLE:

The halogens cost too much.

GETTING AROUND THE SECOND OBSTACLE:

The helpful clerk gives her a discount.

THE RESOLUTION:

Her two new lamps splendidly light up her apartment and make her feel great.

THE THEME:

"You can solve your problem when you go see an expert, who also happens to give great discounts."

(The hard part about writing, I think, is just learning the craft. But once you know how to create a story, it's easy, fast and fun. Just study how shows like FRIENDS and SEINFELD put together their plots.)

Anyway, just a suggestion!

Mark Thomas said...

Blogging instead of writing your script is only semi-lame.

Posting scriptwriting lessons in the comments section of another writer's blog instead of writing your script is, like, double-amputee lame.

Back to work.

Dan Williams said...

"Posting scriptwriting lessons in the comments section of another writer's blog instead of writing your script is, like, double-amputee lame."

No.

First, I AM doing my writing. I am NOT blogging instead of writing.

Second, Amanda said she was stuck so back to basics might be a help.

Third, I don't get the sense that craft is very well known when I read writer's blogs, so it might be helpful to inspire a discussion.

How do you, Mark, write a scene and/or create your story?

Anyway, have a great day!