No

So yesterday I received my first unfavorable response to the statement, “I’m going to write screenplays.”

She simply said, “No.”

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No? What’s that supposed to mean?

No, you shouldn’t do that.

No, you can’t do that.

I wouldn’t touch that career with a ten foot pole so, No, I don’t want to hear why.

She said absolutely nothing else just, no. Then she gathered her kids off the bus, and walked away.

And I was like…

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Then I said to myself, I’m going to keep writing those screenplays, they’re going to get made into movies, and it’s going to be…

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**photo credit: knowyourmeme.com**

Now if you’ll excuse me, that screenplay ain’t gonna write itself.

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

77 Pages

So I finished putting “Cambridge” into screenplay format. I got the spacing just right, deleted scenes I didn’t like anymore, added new ones, and made sure it was in the correct font. Then I sat back to marvel at my accomplishment only to notice that it was 77 pages long, which is, you guessed it, too short. At least 15 pages too short to be exact, I might even need 20 more. So I was like..

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Well I guess that was a decent effort. I suppose I could just work at Target, or something.

No.

I don’t like red.

Or khakis.

But it’s too short. Why is it too short? How can I come up with 20 more pages??

And the confident side of my personality was like..

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Uh, you’re going to read back through your screenplay, and find places where you can expand, and we’ll get to 95 pages. Boom! Just like that.

Yeah. Yeah! ‘Cause I’m a screenplay writer, not a quitter! I got this.badass

I got this!

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

 

Advice Hunting

This week I have been working on going over the highlighted sections of screenplay writing books that I read, and also searching the “interwebs” for other sources of sound advice. In Screenplay by Syd Field, he emphasizes knowing the characters, and making sure the lead is active, as in causes things to happen rather than just lets things happen to them. Last night I read an article on a website called http://www.scriptmag.com which had some quality advice of its own for unknown writers; like me:

*comedies should be about 98 pages long….got it

*short narrative, dialogue, and description 4 lines or less….okay

*paint story with words….I have a pallet full of words!

*no “we see”, “we hear”, or “beat”…’kay, but I’ve seen that in screenplays that I’ve read….oh that’s just for “established” writers

*if the scene or piece of dialogue doesn’t move the story forward-get rid of it…right

*get The Screenwriters Bible…oh-kay

*be a secure writer…uh oh, I mean, of course secure writer, I can or might be able to do that….it’s not like I’m an insecure human or anything

*create a script that is fun for you to write, and easy for the reader (aka the “gate keeper”) to read and recommend…..I can do that

I also read an article in which the guy suggested that one should watch their 5 favorite movies while reading through the screenplay. Now this is tricky because finding the final, what the actor had in their hand, draft of a screenplay is quite difficult. It’s either an early draft or some guy/gal who watched the movie a bunch of times and just wrote down the dialogue; not in screenplay format, and not helpful. Plus my 5 favorite movies are…varied, in style, genre, and mood; and they are as follows:

*The Young Victoria

*Captain America: The Winter Solider

*Pride and Prejudice (2005)

*My Fellow Americans

*It Happened One Night (the granddaddy of romantic comedies, winner of 5 academy awards, it is movie perfection)

As my husband said, “Those are…different.” Yeah. Although last night I did watch Leap Year (I know its not awesome, but its not bad either) while reading through a revised draft of the screenplay, which was little different from what appeared on screen, but it did give me an idea of how a scene looks on paper. At this point it helps enormously that I have characters, a story line, and an ending for both “Cambridge” and “Brooklyn”, I just need to put them in the right format. So today I thought I would practice proper screenplay format using one of the scenes from “Cambridge”. Back in May, I think it was, I introduced Mae Forester, history major, from Kansas, and is attending Cambridge University over the summer. She meets Evan O’Brady, English guy, who leads tour groups around Cambridge over the summer. They first meet right after she gets off the bus, this scene is a couple of day later.

***********************************************

EXT. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY-MORNING

Mae going for a jog, she stops to stretch a lot, dancing a little bit to the music that is coming through her head phones. Evan is with his friend Jeff, further up the street.

EVAN
(sees Mae jogging)
Jeff, there she is.

JEFF
There who is?

EVAN
You know the girl from 2 days ago. Remember I told she was dragging her suitcase.

JEFF
That’s “Jayhawks”?

Mae starts running their way, in the zone.

EVAN
Come on mate, she was cute. She was just tir-

Mae runs into him.

MAE
Oh…I’m so sorry.

EVAN
No no really Miss it was my fault.

Jeff rolls his eyes.

MAE
I guess I was in the “zone”. Music helps me when I run because, I don’t really like running. Just trying to get over some jet-lag. (smiles at Evan) I feel like I’ve seen you before… (realizes) You’re the guy…the one who helped me with my suitcase.

EVAN
Yes, yes that was me.

MAE
I’m sorry if I seemed rude or anything. I just don’t travel very well. Those couple days were just a blur.

EVAN
No its okay. You seem to be doing better.

MAE
Getting adjusted. I’m Mae by the way, Mae Forester.

Mae puts out her hand for a handshake.

EVAN
Evan O’Brady.

They share a really long handshake, Jeff’s eyes widen.

JEFF
Um, Evan..

EVAN
Right. So what brings you to Cambridge?

Jeff rolls his eyes again.

MAE
I got accepted into a 3 month program here at the university.

JEFF
That’s nice. Lovely to meet you Mae, but we must be going.

MAE
(looks at watch)
I have to get ready for class. I guess I’ll see y’all around.

EVAN
We’ll be around.

MAE
Bye.

EVAN
Bye.

Evan smiles as he watches Mae jog away, until Jeff comes into his line of vision.

EVAN
What?

JEFF
She just said she’s leaving in 3 months, get that look off your face.

*********************************************************

Okay the margins are trickier than I was expecting, I might need a screenplay formatting program…type thing. But still not too bad for my first time. By the way, today I got to physically do this…

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…with my Bachelor of Arts degree, AND they sent me a cool alumni decal to put on my car! I know, awesome!

Until next time,

The Texan

Whoa that post went a little long, please accept this bit of humor as my way of saying…sorry the post was so long.

 

 

It’s Degree Day!!

The day has finally come friends! I can do this with my bachelors degree!

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Yay!! Woohoo!! And alright!! I mean I can’t physically do that with my degree just yet because it hasn’t…uh…come in the mail yet. But! I can, and am, wearing my epic t-shirt of victory! To other people it just says, hey she must have gone to American Public University. To me however, it says, I wrote my butt off for this degree, and it was hard, I had my doubts, and I almost cried a few times; but I decided to overcome myself, and achieve something awesome. Now I can do historian type things, you know, should the screenplay writing plan not pan out. Because, you know, I need be realistic. I can’t get to far ahead of myself. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a part of me that is 115% confident that one fine day a movie written by me that will be coming to a theater near you, I just need to keep her in check; and stay focused on/respect the process. And wait for school to start so I can actually hear my own thoughts, and not be interrupted with questions about batteries, snacks, or the classic “what’s for dinner tonight?”.

Anyway. It has been quite the long road, an eleven year long road to be exact, and much has changed since I began my first class back in June of 2006. I have moved 4 times, gone from active duty Air Force member to veteran, had 2 babies, adopted 2 cats and 1 dog, traveled to 11 European countries, taken classes at 3 different schools, started 2 blogs, honed my cooking skills, gone from married for 1 month to married for 11 years, gotten into fitness, discovered and loved Once Upon a Time, The Young Victoria, and James Buchanan Barnes. The student me is no more. She is in the past like, Air Force me, and mom who changes diapers..uh me. This transition has been more difficult than I had expected, each phase becomes apart of ones identity, and moving to the next is more challenging than most people care to admit.

The next phase is screenplay writer me, and it won’t be easy, I know that. But I can use this time to build my confidence, branch out, and not give up on a dream; and of course meet this guy.

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I’m just kidding.

No I’m not.

For now, I can enjoy the fact that I am a member of the American Public University’s….

classof2018

Yippee!!

Until next time,

The Texan

A Certain Amount of Magic

I am a writer. I have to remind myself of that quite often, mainly because before anyone else can see me as one, I need see me as one. It can difficult because while I am a writer, I’m also a wife, a mother, and a pet parent. The summer especially can challenging due to kids being home, and the lack of quiet time. But Rome was not built in a day and I need to let things take the time that they will take, good things usually do….you know..uh…take time. Anyway. I, of course, have my day dreams and my lofty hopes, I think everybody does. One involves the People’s Choice Awards and my husband is holding one hand, while Sebastian Stan holds the other as we wait to hear if my story, my screenplay, my movie, will win the the best comedy movie award.

sebastian

I then remind myself to be patient, and realistic, and stay focused on the present, which is tricky for me because I am very future oriented. I know that writing anything takes a certain amount of magic, mixed with talent, determination, luck, and just a touch of crazy. I know that the movie business might just chew me up and spit me out, and I’ll limp home proud of myself for trying, and try to devise a different plan for meeting Sebastian Stan…I kid, I kid. To loosely quote a song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, “If I’m going to put my heart out on the line, then I need to let the magic in my heart stay true.” If I do that, then the right person will find me at the right time.

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Today I thought I would share with you a little scene from one of my movie ideas currently under the working title of “Brooklyn”. The main character is a writer who having a hard time getting published, her name is Samantha (Sam) York. In the meantime, to pay rent and such, she works part time for an event planning company that does charity events and things like that all over New York City. The scene is one of the first in the movie, as it opens Sam is talking with her brother and sister-in-law about a “Feed America” event she is going to that evening, in attendance will be some celebrities who live in New York. It is there that she will meet the male lead, a young actor named Carter Logan, but that’s for a later post. Sam’s brother, is a character I wrote with a certain actor in mind, I know that’s a big no-no but hey, you never know. His name is Stanley (Stan) York, and he is 12 years older than Sam. Stan seems to think that he looks like well…Sebastian Stan, but Sam and his wife Katy don’t see it.

Sam: “Sebastian Stan might be there too.” (trying to hide her smile)

Katy gives Sam a “why did you say that” look.

Stan: “Sebastian Stan? I love that guy!”

Katy rolls her eyes like she knows what he’s thinking.

Stan: (looking at Katy) “What?”

Katy gives Stan a be serious face and Sam starts to laugh.

Stan: “Come on, it’s true and both of you know it.”

Katy: “Oh my goodness Stan, you don’t look like him.”

Stan: “What?! Same eyes. Same hair. We’re like brothers from another mother.”

Katy and Sam look at each other trying not to laugh.

Stan: “You can’t deny that there are striking similarities.”

Katy: “Stan, I love you but honey, you don’t look like Sebastian Stan.”

Stan looks at Sam.

Sam: (puts her hands up) “Leave me out of this one.”

Stan: “Okay. Here’s what we’ll do. When you see him tonight, show him a picture of me and see what he thinks.”

Sam: “He’ll think I’m a crazy person.”

Katy: “No, he’ll think Stan’s the crazy person.”

Stan: (looks at Katy) “Alright hot shot. You say I don’t look like Sebastian Stan. I say that I do. We’ll let Mr. Stan decide who is right. And who ever loses has to…(thinks for a moment)…organize that closet upstairs.”

Katy: “Ugh, that closet is a disaster.”

Stan: “Are you scared you might lose?”

Katy: “Never. (sticks her hand out) Deal.”

Stan and Katy shake hands then bump fists.

Stan: (to Sam) “Just pick out a good one.”

Sam: “I will.”

Later on at the event Mr. Stan believes that they both right, because while he thinks they do favor each other, its not a straight up look-a-like situation. I figured he would be a good choice because A: he is nice enough to take something like that seriously and B: depending on his hair length, whether or not he has facial hair, or if he’s carrying a little extra weight, he can look quite different. Observe..

Maybe next week I’ll share more of “Brooklyn” with you, the Sam and Carter relationship has been a fun one to work out. I kind of modeled them after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. I know that sounds weird but, I heard in interview that was included in the special features of The Young Victoria, that Albert and Victoria where far better together than they ever could have been apart. They could be good on their own, but needed each other to be great. Sam and Carter are the same in that, they are each other’s missing piece.

Thank you to all my readers and followers! You all help to give me a little more confidence in myself, and help to make my lofty dreams feel more possible! Thank you for reading!!

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

Rachel Buchanan

Last week I wrote about the first character I created, a young aspiring historian named Mae Forester, who finds more than she was expecting while attending Cambridge University over the summer. I look forward to polishing up this character and the story that surrounds her, hopefully being able to share it with the world. I finished reading Screenplay by Sid Field the other day. While I was mildly terrified by the idea that out of 75,000 or so screenplays that get submitted every year only about 450 get made into movies; I also knew that I could not give up. Because as Mr. Field wrote, people break into the movie business all the time. I can’t allow myself to think that it is something that only “other people” do.

This week I thought I would share with you a character that will never see the light of day. I know you may be thinking, now come on don’t say that. Or how do you know that for sure? Well because I do not have the pull that can influence the powers that be at Marvel Studios. Nor can I change the comic book story lines which have been around for decades, and govern the plots of the current movies. And I’m fine that. It’s cool. ‘Cause the thing about being a writer is when you get a idea, its important to write it down, or you’ll lose it. Even the stuff that won’t go beyond your IPad/computer/notepad can still make you smile when you read it, and encourage character creation in the future.

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After watching all 3 Captain America movies, on a long flight from Germany to Texas this past November, I came to absolutely adore Bucky Barnes. He’s such a perfect character, beautifully written, and brilliantly acted by the crazy talented Sebastian Stan. When we first arrived in Upstate New York, I had plenty of free time, and started thinking about the kind of person that I felt Bucky should be with. Sebastian has said in interviews that Bucky is not the Winter Solider anymore nor is he just Bucky Barnes, he is somewhere in between. While he ends up with Natasha in the comic books, and some people feel he should be with Steve. I felt it best that he be with someone who has no connection to either the Winter Solider or before Hydra Bucky. Someone who would know his past and understand that his past is just that. Someone who could help him focus on the future; that’s when Rachel Buchanan came to life.

Her grandfather was a SHIELD agent, and was friends with Howard Stark. Her father was in the Army, and spent some time stationed in Europe which exposed Rachel to history and different languages. She worked for SHIELD as a research assistant, also helped with foreign languages and logistics. After SHIELD fell, Tony Stark asked her to continue her work with the Avengers, due to her skill and her ability to keep a low profile. She has an appreciation for the classics, helps Bucky catch up on historical events, and loves to hear Bucky talk about what New York was like in the 30s and 40s. She first “encounters” Bucky at the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian, a few years before she meets him person. She feels a connection to him, and gets an unshakeable feeling that he is sad, or that something is wrong. When they meet, Bucky must feel the connection as well because he says to her, “This is going to sound crazy but…have we met before?” Below is one of the conversations that they have.

Bucky: “So technically your grandfather is younger than me?”

Rachel: “You were born in 1917, right?”

Bucky: “Yes.”

Rachel: “Only…eighteen years.”

They smile at each other and laugh.

Bucky: “Would you maybe be interested in going out….with me, sometime. I mean, I can understand if you wouldn-“

Rachel: “Yes.”

Bucky: “What would you want to do? Assuming we have time?”

Rachel: “Doesn’t matter.”

They smile at each other.

It’s not much I know, and there is more to the character and the mini story that I wrote, which I can share more of at later date should the interest exist. He’ll probably end up with Natasha, and I’m okay with that, anything that will make Bucky smile more. Because his smile is the world, observe.

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I’m learning that being a writer means, writing. Writing everything, not just the best stuff, or the stuff that will work, or sell, or actually become a reality. First efforts can always be polished, but once an idea is lost, because you never wrote it down, its pretty much gone for good. Besides maybe I can incorporate some of Rachel’s characteristics into a future character. I just need to keep writing. And not give up. Ever.

Until next time,

The Texan

 

 

My First Character

I have been enjoying not having to do school work, and riding the good vibes wave that comes with accomplishing something that was difficult; and also took a long time. I have yet to discover if the dean liked my paper, I also don’t know my final GPA, but the work is complete. And I am so close to being able to wear that t-shirt that I bought from the university store; or as I call it, the “t-shirt of victory”. I mean I know that I can wear it now, just wanna make sure everything is final first, you know, truly complete. I look forward to that day, its going to be awesome! You know sometimes its okay to bask in your own glow. Its important for each individual to recognize just how amazing they truly are, and then use that…uh…amazing-ness, to better the world around them. Imagine if everyone did that?

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But I digress.

I’ve been reading a book called Screenplay by Syd Field, to help in the process of making my unfinished yet to be finished screenplay, ready to present to the world. I started working on it about 2 years ago, and it currently has the working title of “Cambridge”. The main character is a young American women from Kansas, and her name is Mae Forester. Mae is a graduate student at the University of Kansas, and is only a few credits away from completing her master’s degree in history. She gets accepted to competitive summer program at Cambridge University, one of only 6 Americans chosen. When she arrives she meets Evan O’Brady, an aspiring chef, who is working as a Cambridge tour guide for the summer. The impact they have on each other is the story.

Now Mae isn’t looking for love, or in need of a man, more just tired of the ones that turn out to be a waste of time. For her going to Cambridge is all about finishing her degree, and proving to herself that she is capable of succeeding in the history profession; and then moving on from there. She’s not really expecting anything more, however, waiting in Cambridge is something more. This meeting generates happiness, but also conflict; which I hope will make the movie interesting. Today I would like to share with you one of my favorite scenes, when Mae (who doesn’t travel well) first arrives in Cambridge, and meets Evan.

Setting exterior in front of Cambridge:
Camera set under a bus showing the stairs. Feet in sneakers appear, one at a time. Mae walks off dragging her suitcase rather than using the wheels. She looks extremely tired, messy ponytail and wearing sweatpants that say “Jayhawks” along the side. Evan notices her, and offers to help.

Evan: “Miss. Excuse me miss. Allow me to assist you with that.” (He puts the suitcase back on its wheels.)
Mae: “Oh yeah. I’ve never been this exhausted in my life, this coming from a girl who has taken her fair share of final exams. I’m actually a little upset with England right now.”
Evan: “Why England?”
Mae: “Because it’s so far away from Kansas.”
Evan: “Kansas? Are you American?”
Mae: “Why else would I be coming from Kansas?”
Evan: “Good point.”
Mae: “Yeah I know. (looks at Evan) You don’t have to follow me, I’m just going over here.”
Evan: “Just making sure you get to where you need to be.”
Mae: “I am (big yawn) where I need to be.”
Evan: “Right.”
Evan watches Mae, as she meets up with the rest of the people that got off the bus. After a few moments they walk into the university.
Evan: “Hmm.” He walks away and the screen fades.

I’m excited to begin the process of polishing up, this, my first story idea, hopefully seeing it made into a movie, and then moving on my second story idea; which has the working title of “Brooklyn”. I also look forward to finishing Screenplay, that book is full to busting with tips and sound advice about screenplay writing, then reading a book called Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. I’m excited to learn all I can!

“Talent is God’s gift; either you’ve got it or you don’t. But writing is a personal responsibility; either you do it or you don’t.”  -Syd Field

I guess it’s time to write!

Until next time,

The Texan