My New Mission

A warm hello to all you WordPress Writers.

It has been some time since I started this blog, and some time since I checked up on it. This last break took me about a year to complete. But now I’m back, and I have a new mission.

When I first started this blog, it was purely for promotion of my own work. Looking back on my older posts now has been a fascinating experience. I’m a much different person than the kid who started this blog in 2014. Back then I was a naive dreamer who believed in himself to a fault, and made the rather brazen decision to move out to the big city and take it by storm. Late 2014 through early 2018 were some of the most painful, yet informative years of my life. I moved back to the country in March of 2018 a much wiser person, taking with me all my dreams, and a nice side job covering scripts for writers with ambitions not unlike my own.

Much of this blog’s history was devoted to a passion project, namely a fantasy novel that went through several iterations but never quite got to where it needed to be. I ended up deciding to shelve the novel for a time to develop it properly, and then went on to work on another book. As of this post, the second draft of that book is almost finished, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I will share progress on my own work from time to time, but that’s no longer this blog’s mission. I want to help other writers who are where I was four years ago, and perhaps impart some of the wisdom I’ve picked up since then. I’ll talk about how my writing methods evolved, how my outlook on writing has changed, and other things that helped me improve as an artist. I’ll also share my insights as a script reader for competitions, and let you know some of the common mistakes I see, and how you can overcome them in both screenwriting and prose fiction. And don’t be surprised if you see the odd post about a recently viewed book or film. I’m a pop culture junkie, and sharing a story is one of my favorite past times.

For the purposes of this new mission, I’ve spent the last few hours going through the site, removing pieces that were no longer relevant and completely refurbishing overall presentation of the page. It’s been hard work and there’s still a lot more to be done, but this has nonetheless been a worthwhile journey.

In the meantime, come on in, pull up a seat by the fire, and lets get to work. I hope to connect with many of you who are struggling to figure out what you want to say with your work, and let you all know that no matter how bad it may seem, never give up the dream of mastering words. Remember, this is not a place where you’ll be talked down upon. I’ll struggle right along with you. So without further delay, let us begin.

Welcome to the Writer’s Forge.

Blog Overhaul

Well, I’m back in the saddle as far as this blog goes, and some of you may be wondering why the options at the top of the page have gone down.

The answer is there’s about to be some pretty big changes around here.

I’ve removed a number of tabs from the site, ones dealing with old scripts, the first three chapters of the novel I’d been writing, and an entire page dedicated to world building on my fantasy universe. I’ve removed all of these as I feel they no longer reflect my skills, and the project they were for is getting some much needed rest before I go after it again.

This entire blog is going to be re-worked into one that isn’t specifically devoted to Never Heroes, but rather a writer’s blog in general.

I’m currently debating whether or not I’ll be removing the concept art pages from here. Perhaps they’d be better to keep under wraps until an art book is released, if an art book is released.

I’m not ashamed of this project, and it will be finished. You can count on that. But looking back at this blog a few months after taking a break, and I look at it now as a testament to who I was three years ago, a kid fresh out of college who was still a little full of himself. That’s not who I am anymore, and that’s what this page needs to be. The content will still be saved for my own purposes, so somewhere down the line I can look back and have a good laugh. But you guys will be getting something totally new, and hopefully more representative the current state of the author.

Damned if I know exactly what it’ll be, but we’ll figure something out.

Looking forward to seeing you soon, and happy writing.

Where Have I Been?

It’s been over two months since I checked in to this little blog, so where have I been?

A lot has changed for me since my last post here. I left Los Angeles and moved back across the country to the Mid-West. I’ve moved in with a close friend of mine, got another job, picked up my secondhand work doing script coverage, and have been overall really, really busy.

So what of the writing dream? I know you’re all wondering just what became of the very thing I’ve been chatting about since this blog started back in 2014.

Rest assured, that dream is more alive than ever.

Los Angeles made it very difficult for me to concentrate. It can be hard to get a word out while choking in a sea of smog and traffic. Moving back to the Mid-West has been something of a writer’s dream come true. It’s far less crowded, far more quiet, the rent is cheap and resources are plentiful. This has put me into a world free of stress and troubles. Because of that, my writing has picked up rather nicely. Moving back here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Since getting back here I’ve completed another short story, and am about a third of the way done with a horror/thriller novel I’ve been working on. I’ve been reading a lot too. I recently finished Stephen King’s Misery, which was as the reviews called it, a ‘white knuckler.’ I also dove headfirst into Crichton’s Jurassic Park for the first time, which was a similarly gruesome and unexpected surprise. Am about a third of the way through reading that. I think it’s a testament to the benefits of books that my writing style has vastly improved since taking up novels again. I’ll also be reading The Dark Tower, The Talisman, and Black House, before delving into the world of Middle Earth with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

I’ve also been doing more paid work in writing, picking up the pace with script coverage and making more money than I ever have in the past. I’ve already made my rent for the month, which will make this the first time that reading and writing have been able to pay for my living expenses, an important milestone in the life of any artist, and something I’m deeply proud of.

Most importantly, I’m a different person. I may not be that much older than when this blog started in 2014, but those three years of being beat down, depressed, and challenged have given me a lot of time for reflection. I was a vain kid out of college who assumed I was the smartest person in the room. Turns it I’m a whole lot dumber than I would have liked to think I was. But realizing this has been beneficial as well. Knowing that has better allowed me to see the flaws in my writing, and work very hard to improve on them. I’ve found the key to my evolution was some much needed humility, and I intend to keep it.

It’s actually kind of funny to look back on most of this blog’s posts, which are dripping with way too much self assurance and not enough contemplation. I wasn’t growing as an artist because I believed, rather vainly, I was already a master. Realizing I still have a lot to learn has helped reveal the mountain still in front of me. Now the real climb has begun.

Will be getting back to you soon, and I hope reading this has been as pleasurable to you as it was for me to write it.

One Chapter Down & Chapter 2 Starting

It has been an interesting and turbulent time in my life to be sure. I started this blog three years ago as an ambitions optimist with big dreams. Three years on and none of those ambitions have come true and I’m now a high strung depressed wreck of a person. About the only thing about me that has improved is my writing.

The coming weeks will bring some big changes. I came out to Los Angeles to chase my dreams, and thought I’d find a home in this bustling metropolis. Instead I found a place that was as cold and apathetic as the asphalt was hot on a summer day. I now look to my coming journey back to the midwest with a lot of apprehension and very little hope.

But my writing IS better. Even though my life is slowly but surely turning to a mound of fecal matter, I still know that much is true. Earlier this week I began writing a book, hopefully my last go around of a project that’s been in my heart for many years. This morning I finished the first draft of my opening chapter.

I’m surprised by how quickly the words are piling on. So far we’ve reached some 21 pages and just over 7500 words. The first days were a bit off. I wrote eight pages, four of which I liked and four I thought were garbage. I threw the latter away and got to work again, and then something just sort of clicked and the gears started working. It has pretty much been my only reliable source of comfort these last few years, something that I do hope will turn into a career.

I’ll keep you all posted on progress. If things go at their current pace, I should have another chapter or two done by week’s end.

Thanks for reading and see you all soon.

 

New Book Beginning & New Article Finished

Well, it has been a busy week on the writing front. Not only is our little film journalism magazine taking off, but earlier I was able to start work on a new book after months of planning.

ScreenHub is a website formed by myself and a few colleagues after our previous magazine unfortunately folded last October. So far we’ve actually been getting some decent traffic, already gaining around 1k views the last few days. Trying to keep our traffic on a steady pace, I’ve contributed my second article to the site.

Be sure to check out my latest article on this link.

But that’s not the only thing I’ve been working on. Since putting down my fantasy novel to give it a rest, I’ve been hard at work planning another project, this one a novel based on a script I wrote back in 2016, a horror/thriller about werewolves.

On Monday night, I sat down and started doing that familiar keyboard waltz, putting some 500 words on the page. It was a light writing regiment, but that generally is how things go when I’m trying to get back into the wordsmithing spirit. It also was hardly perfect, but it seems a month of researching and outlining the project did pay off. Some of those seeds of inspiration did blossom into some wonderful words. I’m particularly proud of this passage here in the opening paragraphs.

The werewolf stood high above Luther, dragging its tongue across rows of blood soaked teeth. In the darkened hallway the only source of light were its yellow eyes, slicing through the blackness like a pair of searing hot blowtorches.

I certainly like the language there, though it will no doubt be subject to improvement in later drafts. I aim to do another 500 words tonight, then 1000 the night after, and hopefully I’ll be fulfilling my daily goal of 2k words in no time.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back with you all very soon.

Back To Film Journalism

For most of 2017, I was working my first paid writing gig, a small job writing editorials for an online film magazine known as MoviePilot. I may not have earned much, but sharing my opinions to be read by so many people was a pleasure. In that time, my work was even noticed by actors Tom Noonan and Lance Henriksen, who shared my articles on their pages and earned me more recognition.

MoviePilot unexpectedly closed its doors in October. While it didn’t put any financial stress on me, it was still sad to see this creative venue go.

But all wasn’t lost. Many of us got together and decided to start over, so we pooled our resources and started a magazine of our own, a little place called ScreenHub. Today I am pleased to announce that our first article has been completed, this one on the much anticipated sequel to Halloween from Blumhouse. It was written by yours truly.

It feels good to be back in the saddle with a nice little corner of the internet to call our own. Who knows? Maybe this little venture will lead to something.

Give this article a read and be sure to visit our page. All the best.

via Why Blumhouse’s Halloween Could Be The Best Sequel Yet

Preparing For Change

Big things are happening soon.

After three years of struggling to make it as a filmmaker in LA, I’ve come to realize this place makes me pretty miserable, not the struggle itself but the setting. A lot has happened in this tie. I’ve grown far more interested in the writing process itself as opposed to getting behind the camera and barking orders to actors and crew. Knowing this, I was hit with a realization.

I don’t have to be in Los Angeles to write.

So I’ve made the decision to pack my bags and go back to where it all began, to a little state in the midwest where my dreams of storytelling first took a definite shape, back to Ohio.

This choice fills me with a mixture of hope and fear. It’ll be good heading back to a place where I don’t have to worry so much about money and can focus on my writing more thoroughly, but at the same time I don’t want to stagnate and languish as I have out here.

Steps are being taken to prevent this. I’ve been in touch with some of the heads of my college and they’ve been putting me in touch with many of the film and writing oriented societies that have taken root around town since my departure, and I may have already landed my first piece of remote freelance work. Paying for rent won’t be a concern. Getting work that is worthwhile on the other had will undoubtedly prove challenging.

What I do expect is my writing to improve. The big city is a noisy place and it’s hard to concentrate. Ohio has some urban areas, but none so overwhelming as the cacophony of Southern California. For a writer seeking solitude, quiet, and a relief from some of life’s pressures, where I’m going is a dream.

Survival will not be a problem, and I doubt very much writing will be either.

I look forward to going back to this place. It does fit into the whole “This was your home all along” cliche that we see in so many bad stories. I suppose I don’t mind if my story is bad, just so long as there’s a happy ending, but then again, that’s all up to me.

Starting Over Set Me Free

Putting away my book which Id been working on for three years was initially a very painful decision, and for the last few days I was greatly fearful that this story I so loved was now dead, and nothing would bring back the passion I once felt for it. However, soon after putting down my draft and moving away from it, a funny thing began to happen.

Fresh ideas.

Since putting down my draft and unshackling myself from all my previous plot-points, I’ve come to recognize my approach was fundamentally flawed from the start. My first scene, though thrilling and tense, resulted in the first of a series of contrivances that were to bring my heroes together, when in truth there was a much more simple and effective approach to do that.

My original take was my character is forced to take up the role of hero through blackmail. What I realized was my favorite heroes are forced into it by circumstance. Characters like Indiana Jones, John McClane and Ellen Ripley are not brought into insurmountable odds by any sort of planning. They often have those odds dumped on top of them unexpectedly. It is how they react to this sudden upheaval that they become heroic characters.

That I think is the approach that will best work for my protagonist, and may ultimately make their turn all the more unexpected, which was the original intention anyway.

This sudden flush of ideas has brought me nothing but relief. Though I ended up hating the book I wrote, I was still in love with the characters, the world, and the emotional core I was trying to evoke. Though I failed with that last draft, I knew there was a story worth telling in there somewhere. After only a few days, the mistakes are becoming more obvious, and that story is starting to take shape a little at a time.

My first draft was never going to be what I wanted, no matter how many times I hammered and chipped away at it. I initially thought the right amount of work could make it happen, and kicked myself every day I’d go another round on my manuscript and it still wouldn’t come to life. Now I see that there is no fixing a story that’s fundamentally flawed, except one. Throw it away and start over. It sounds terrible, but it may be the best creative decision I’ve ever made.

It will still be a while before I get back to it. Another book has taken priority, one for which I have a clearer vision. Still, it’s good to know that there is still life buried in there, enough for even the most meager ideas to struggle their way to my consciousness.

The last week was one plagued with self doubt. Though I’m still nervous about my eventual return to my planned fantasy epic, the doubt is not as strong anymore.

My manuscript depressed me with wasted potential. This new empty page excites me with endless possibilities.

Back to Writing

After putting away my book for a spell, I had to get back to writing. Already I’ve finally completed another project, this one a short story that I aim to submit to some magazines.

This short story was one I’d started writing last year, and always wanted to get back to. After getting caught up in writing the book however, it fell to the side and I forgot about it. I thought it best to try and tackle something a little shorter in order to get back in the swing of things, so I dug it up and got it finished.

It took three days to get these 2,600 words where I want them, but after going over it a few times, I think it’s ready to go. Now we’ll see if any of these magazines agree.

Wish me luck, and it feels good to be back in the saddle. I’ll post the short sometime in the next few days for anyone interested.

A Painful Decision

Three years ago I started this blog with the help of some very dear friends of mine, all with the goal of promoting a book I was writing, one that I was certain I’d be finished with by December of 2014.

If you listen, you can hear someone laughing.

A few months back, I said that book was finally finished, though that was only after making the same claim some five or six times since this blog was started. Perhaps the impact of that promised had been a little bit dulled. A lot has happened to me since then. I’ve learned how to write better, actually have a job as a critic for scripts, enjoyed a brief stint writing op-ed pieces on films I loved and loathed, and have several projects I’m just dying to jump into. I’ve also come to a very painful realization, one that has resulted in one of the most agonizing decisions I’ve made thus far.

I can’t write my book.

I don’t mean it will never be written. I’ve put too much time and passion into this world and its characters to ever let it die. But this has been a very saddening journey for me, working through multiple drafts and edits, and still being able to tell that some special magic was missing from my work. After that initial satisfying elation after an edit, it went back to the way it was before. It just wasn’t enough.

Eventually what I realized was the writing style wasn’t the problem, but the draft itself. My draft has many fundamental narrative flaws in it, from an annoying comic relief to an endless series of contrivances, and a needlessly convoluted series of events that bring my characters together. I’ve read enough scripts and written enough reviews to recognize these problems with my own work. The feelings I had for the story remained just that. They were always feelings and never words.

I’d also put myself in quite a bind. The entire book is told from the lead character’s perspective, but the world was so big and the story so vast that I couldn’t tell the whole thing without thinking up some very silly reasons as to why my hero would be there, (or how he’d fit given he’s over 100 feet tall. Bound to one perspective, I never could explore the world, or how the other characters viewed my hero. My stubborn refusal to give up that perspective might have been this draft’s downfall.

How many times had I edited this draft? Not sure, but the number is probably high. Did it improve the draft? Sure. Some of the writing was a lot of fun, and exactly the thing I’d like to see in a book of this genre. However, those were just little bits that shined in a story that was otherwise pretty dull. No matter how much impromptu surgery I performed and no matter how many paragraphs I stapled on, it would never come to life because I was stapling those things onto a corpse.

Wow. This blog post already has much better writing than my book.

The draft has surely improved since I started it. It now has a beginning, a middle and an end, a clear goal for the good guys, and some nice character arcs amongst the cast. To say it hasn’t come a long way since 2012 would be false. But is it good enough? I don’t think so. So, as of this week, I’ve made the painful decision to put the book down.

Not forever. Just for now.

I’ll never be a perfect writer, but there’s still a lot for me to learn before I’m ready to tell the big fantasy epic I want to tell. It was like trying to drive a cruise ship without learning how to operate the paddle wheeler first. This story will be told, but there’s a lot more to learn before I’m ready. With a story this complicated with a world so intricate, I think it’s best that I take the time to hone my skills on other projects.

Fortunately there’s much to do. I’ve got a werewolf themed thriller that could benefit from some attention. I had the privilege of contacting my writing partner last night where we had a rather exciting meeting about the story, and it left me invigorated and hopeful. There are also plenty of short stories and other subjects that could be refurbished and sent out. I’m working on a short story right now that I aim to send out to some magazines.

Never Heroes will never be put down forever, but I will finally say this. I don’t know when it will get done. It could be next year, next decade, or it could be finished on my deathbed. Maybe I won’t finish it and will pass my materials onto a more capable person, but where’s the fun in that?

This choice was painful, but I also think it was right. Now was the right time to begin the story, but not the right time to end it. In time the ideas will come, a clearer picture will emerge, and the story I want to tell will finally take shape. Until then, all my favorite characters should take a well deserved rest. We’ve all earned it.

I’ll be back soon with updates on my current projects, including a brand new short story. Hope to see you all then. Take care.