Monday, October 24, 2005

Today's Biz...

This morning, I got up around 6:30am and called my editor. I wanted to see if there are any numbers in for Friends With Benefits. The first printing was 24,000, and 19,000 are gone from the warehouse. We don't have any sales numbers, but that's a pretty good figure. Being that I'm an unknown in fiction, normally half would still be sitting in the warehouse gathering dust. So that was good news. Plus, Friends With Benefits was featured on the first page spread of Black Expressions, Doubleday's Book Club. Black Expressions has 200,000 folks, so that is real good.

Karen is going to her Wednesday editorial meeting with my Money Shot proposal, so I should know more within the week. That's where they'll sit back and see if the story is marketable, and how much they can afford to pay me. I'll let my agent take care of that.

I've got to put FWB and Divine Nine publicity on my schedule. I've been lagging badly in both areas.

In class, things are going better. Screenplays are a completely new form for me, so I'm trying to get the fundamentals down as quickly as possible. We have some really good writers in the class and I'm pretty impressed with their attention to details. Not an excuse, but we had an exercise where we took an antedote and wrote story in prose, and then in script form. I kept my story pretty generic, trying to work on getting the basic screenwriting form down. My descriptions were not as detailed as the others, and the story was pretty linear. The comments in class reflected that I could have started either before my opening or after. Fair enough. But we're done with that. Now, we're starting our first four pages for the thirty page script we're developing. That's what we've been waiting to do, and I can't wait.

With these scripts, we start them for thirty pages, and then the next quarter we can either throw them out or continue to develop them. I'm not throwing out crap. If I spend time on it, I'm working on it. So what am I going to write about? I haven't decided yet. I have a list of twenty stories I want to develop, but I haven't decided which one I want to spend time on right now. I'm close, but not yet. I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out (tomorrow).

I wasn't able to get to the building for the Black MFA Association, but I may do that tomorrow. Everyone is very enthusiastic about the idea and I think it will be a hit. Even if we're not able to get official recognition this quarter, we can still meet unofficially and bring in speakers from the industry. My hope is that we'll create a support system for Black MFA students, and a gateway into Hollywood via mentorships and new relationships.


David said...

"My descriptions were not as detailed as the others, and the story was pretty linear"

Making the jump from fiction to screenwriting tends to reward that, though, because you're actually aiming to pare down your descriptions toward what moves your story forward.

Long, flowery descriptions aren't encouraged in this program, no matter how well-written. Linda Voorhees writes S.I.F.Y.N. next to those kind of passages when she finds them. It stands for "Save it for Your Novel".

It seems a fun challenge, though, playing with these different styles of writing. I think we'll both get a lot of opportunities to exercise different writing muscles while going through this program.

By the way, some time soon I'd really like to talk to you about how you go about writing a book proposal, etc. I've been thinking a lot about the idea I threw at you the other day, and would love a chance to learn from somebody who's actually been down the vague road of getting stuff published.

Lawrence said...

Well, that's good then because I don't particularly like them either. I try to keep my descriptions short and snappy. However, even with the economy of words, I need to make sure that the words have the right effects. They should be vibrant.

You have Linda? I didn't know she was teaching this quarter. Also, for the book proposal, I have to send you to where I send everyone. Buy a book called "How to write a book proposal" by Michael Larsen. In there, you'll get the full explanation and a few samples. BPs are so personal, it's hard to give advice on what to put in there versus what not to. It's basically your map of what the book's going to be, so you have to fill in the blanks. But I can send you a few samples I have, plus ones I've submitted in the past.

David said...

That'd be great. Thanks a lot. The ideas have definitely been circling through my head -- there are some books on "living with disability" that I'm planning on checking out, although a lot of those tend to be kind of cliche and mealy-mouthed. But there are some promising ones out there, and my idea is more specifically related to issues of travel and accommodation.

Anyway, I'm in Hal's Tuesday section, though I had Linda for two two-week seminars in Nebraska. It was she who really encouraged me to apply to the M.F.A., and if you get a chance to take her at any time during this program, I'd really recommend it. She's funny and sharp and constantly on-task and both encouraging and humbling when either approach is necessary. I think she's awesome.

Thanks again for the pointers. It sounds like a great start.