Monday, October 30, 2006

Pressure and Choices Part II

Okay, so I've had the bright light that characters need to be pressured to make choices. It's what all of my instructors have told me since day one, but like most lessons in life, it didn't hit the brain until last week. So what did I do?

I already had the beats written. The beats plot out the script from Page one to the end, and show me where the structure is in the script. Next, I broke down the scenes in the first ten pages via what was at stake for the characters, and what choices did they have to make? Seems logical, but wasn't. But when I did it, the motivations of the characters came alive. I'll put it this way. With the beats set, but the choices and pressures of the characters not set, each character was walking down the same path. They were close together, talking to each other, but never touching, and never saying anything that affected the other. Now, with the pressure and choices, my characters are bumping, elbowing, and talking to each other in ways that affects their moods, attitudes, and how fast or slow they make their way down the path, either together or alone. So with that, the next four or five hours will be dedicated to rewriting my first ten pages.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pressure and choices...

Okay, so I'm on an America West flight from the East Coast to Los Angeles, and I'm watching The Devil Wears Prada. The wife and I saw it in the theaters and I found myself really liking it. Didn't know why, but I did. But as I watched it for a second time, I figured out what it was. Meryl Streep's character put the young protagonist under immense pressure, and didn't let up. Choice after choice was tough, tougher, and even more tough, which appealed to my sense of drama. So by the time our young protagonist walked away, she'd finally made a choice that although tough, was true to herself.

As I write The Bestsellers, that's something I must keep in mind. It's also tough to do when you have only ten weeks to do it. You're really writing the skeleton of the script during this ten weeks, and so you kind of don't have all of your choices really plotted out. I mean, your script has all of the right plot points, but the if you want to really rachet up the pressure, I think it requires that second, third and fourth draft. But I'm going to try. Each scene, I'm going to turn the screw that much more.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

TheYack is live...

Go check it out at

TheYack is live...

Go check it out at

Friday, October 27, 2006


was a whilwind. I took an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Hartford, Connecticut. I had a regularly scheduled phone meeting for Icono that I thought I'd miss, but I was happy to make it. After that, I had a WONDERFUL lecture at Central Connecticut State University. Great kids with a great attitude.

I have a full plate of stuff to do, per usual. I have to correct some sourcing stuff with my articles at Icono, and I want to put more articles in. That's a weekend thing. My ten script pages for UCLA garnered great notes and I'm making corrections as we speak (4:30AM EST). I'm jut going to keep writing and see if I can get a bit ahead. Right now, we're all technically behind.

Okay, gotta get on a morning plane. Holla later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Very Productive Weekend...

Finished my beats for The Bestseller. Took out an element that was unnecessary in the story. I finally have the tone down. Wrote ten pages of script and I feel like I could write twenty more right now. That first year at UCLA is kicking in. Whereas I walked into UCLA not know a script from a hole in the wall, now I feel confident enough that I can write something and see the problems. And when my classmates find issues, I have enough tools to address them. I still say that if I learn anything in life, the skill of identifying crap is the most valuable. So, ten pages done, and only about ninety left to go.

I'm excited about Icono because Donna is going to let me in on some calls with clients. Being that I like the business side of marketing, that will be an added bonus to the writing. I think I have the Icono voice down, and now it's about cleaning up mistakes, and making sure I input things correctly. No biggees.

The fiction manuscript has a name, but it seems as though it's too provocative for Kensington. Manie has gone to the mat for me, and I want to keep it.

Still need to write more for the non-fiction book. Still, one thousand words a day should do it. I've been chipping away at it.

This week, a lecture in New Britain, Connecticut.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I figured out what happened...

When I started writing this story during the summer, I knew what type of tone I wanted it to have. But when I got to class, I sort of forgot. But something Tim said in class resonated. He said that road trip scripts are the easiest to write because people have to get from here to there. That is probably true. What I forgot is that I want to write a different type of road trip script. My road trip script is not one where there are a bunch of gags. I'm just not a gag guy. My script is one that Mike Leigh might like. Two women, forced together, and yet very lonely. If I keep that in mind, it'll make writing this script much easier.


I think I'm trying to torture myself. Went to my 434 with my beats, but really, still didn't like the story. Trying to change one character to a man had kind of messed up my story. So I ditched that. But then, I started changing elements that didn't need to be changed. There's one storyline that needs to be ditched, and that came from comments in class. I agree. But I'd started cutting much deeper, creating a boring road story that was neither here nor there. So I'm going back to my original story, cutting out some back story, and then rewrite my beats. Hopefully that will work. Need to write ten pages by Tuesday, which will be the first ten pages of the script. Next week is week 4 and I need to get in gear.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Still Working on my Beats...

It's 2am, and I'm still working on my beats. I know that I probably have holes in the story, and as I write the beats, they become very apparent. I shouldn't keep going back and forth through the beats, and just get them done, but that's a weakness of mine. So I plod on. I think I'll write until 3am, and then finish up in the morning after going to the gym.

The wife and I had a date and saw Helen Mirren in The Queen. I'm a huge Helen Mirren fan, having seen her in HBOs Elizabeth, and I wanted to see her play the modern day queen. Her performance was fine, but centering the story around the death of Princess Diana was a drag. I was more interested in the Queen at center stage, rather than watching her under the giant shadow of Diana. I give it seven stars out of ten.

Tonight, as I write my beats, I thought I'd watch a nice and violent Sam Peckenpah film. Cross of Iron is a favorite. Lots of blood and guts. Seems old fashion now, but at the time, all of Sam's movies were shocking. is finally in capable hands. If things work out well, it'll be ready for beta next Friday. If things go slower, then we're talking about Halloween. Regardless, it'll be up and running by the end of the month. The design is tight, and the coder knows what he's doing.

On the home front, my son is reading like a champ. Makes me very proud. His school work as been so on point that he's getting outstandings in almost every category. Every category except religion. Oops. As a good Catholic, I should have that handled, but they've changed things since I was a kid. The Hail Mary is different. Not to get all Mel Gibson on you, but who said we could take out the "thees" and substitute "you"? It's throwing me off. Anyway, I need to step it up.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Writing Beats...

I actually enjoy writing the beats to my script. Beats are a sort of road map for the script and it helps me understand what the scene is supposed to accomplish or establish. Usually, there are about sixty beats. I've been working on and off and so far I've written about ten. I think, and then rethink, the scenes. And since I think Tim will marry us to these beats, it's better to work out any issues with the beats, versus writing scenes and not knowing where it's supposed to go.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Changed Mind...

Decided against making one of my characters a man. Sure, it makes it more commercial, but I couldn't figure out a way to make any story relevant and comedic. Also, I lost a bit of what I was going for in the story, which is two women from different backgrounds becoming friends. Pretty simple that.

This is going to be a grundgy week, meaning I'm not letting anything get in the way of writing. Get stuff done is the mantra. Right now, I am taking out some of the subtrefuge I had at the beginning of The Bestsellers, and tightening it up. Then I'm going to write the beats. That's due on Wednesday, but I want to get it done by tonight. Then, I'll start writing the script. This is week 3, so I'm a little behind, but I'll catch up. It's weird, but this year feels slow and I feel like I really haven't got my brain into it yet. I think it's because of all the projects. Boy, I can't wait until it's Xmas and I'm done with the book, the script, and the television script. I won't write anything for a month. May not even turn on my computer. Yeah, right.

Weight Loss Update:

Start: 219lb
Now: 218lb

Only got in one workout over the past ten days, mainly because Iconosphere messed with my schedule. I'll get in at least three per week starting tomorrow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I fired the developer of my site. I've developed quite a few websites over the past decade, and this guy was full of more excuses than Mark Foley. Anyway, got rid of his ass last week and you'll probably see me on the People's Court getting my money back. Talked to my lawyer and he says I have a open and closed case for a refund. Offered the guy a chance to make a partial, but surprise, didn't hear from him. I did my part in offering him a chance to not pay everything back. Now, the Small Claims will do their part.

But not all is lost. I had a backup plan, and should be ready in two weeks. If I'd gone with my original plan, would have been up and ready around September 1st. But now, we're looking at two weeks. C'est La Vie.

BTW, my Raiders are terrible.

Friday, October 13, 2006

This Weekend Goals...

1. Write five observations for Iconoculture (reduced quota for this week due to Iconosphere): DONE
2. Write 5000 words for MS
3. Write summary of the fiction manuscript
4. Write character description for fiction manuscript
5. Rewrite story for The Bestsellers. Figure out whether to do a beat sheet or Tim's overview (IN PROGRESS RIGHT NOW)
6. Write beats for Secrets & Lives (DONE)

This is going to be a great week for my writing. My Thursday producer course isn't meeting this week, so I only have my Wednesday 434. So for this week, I'm waking up and focusing on NOTHING but writing. It's time to make serious headway, particularly on MS, on all of my projects.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The past two days have been spent at the Beverly Hilton at the first Iconosphere. It's our confab where clients come in and learn about the company and also get a chance to meet Iconoculture folks to tend to only talk to on the phone. The same goes for intra-company. We all get to see each other and in some cases, meet each other for the first time.

You can always tell how a company views itself by how they hold these confabs. I like how Iconoculture did this. Holding it at the Beverly Hilton was a great touch; first class, and nice for your clients. It shows that you value them. And as employees, I could feel that we were all excited to be there. Not that fake excited that happens when everyone hates their job, but an excited that comes with believing that what you do REALLY does have a value. That's how I felt as I answered client questions. And that's all you can really ask out of a job.

On the UCLA front, we read your stories, and Tim (my 434 teacher) asked if you would be interested in making one of my characters a man. At first, it didn't make sense, but then I thought about it and wondered why I hadn't thought of it. He said that it could make the story more commercial, and baby, I'm Mr. Commercial. So I'm changing the character. Next up: Treatment

The books: Need to meet with Lexington, but just haven't had the time. He's been cool about trying to set it up, but I think it'll move to next week.

Meeting with Krystal on Friday to go over the episodes.

I need sleep.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Working On...

My assignment for Tim's 434. Before I start writing The Bestsellers (and ignore the page count on the right. That's going to zero 'cause I'm starting over), we need to write a two page story (which is down from the three I'd written before), a letter from the protag and antag to their lover, and then an obit for both the protag and antag. Lastly, I need an obsession for the protag and antag. Cool, almost done. I'm at the obit right now. I'll be done within the hour.

Went to the gym this morning, and did a full 45 on the Lifecycle. Felt good. Tomorrow, I'm getting up at the crack of dawn to do another 45. I have to be at the Beverly Hilton by 8am for Iconosphere. That'll be all day, and thank god my day is clear. Speaking of classes, it looks like I'll be taking only two classes. And that's probably good because I still have an ass load of writing to complete. But after December 15th, I'm free of commitments. Until then, I've got mad shit to do.

Holla at ya later...

Listening to:
Violent Femmes
Jack Johnson
Nic Armstrong
Ben Lee
Del Amitri
The Exies

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What I accomplished...

I think writing my observations on Saturday (for the job) is going to work. I'm spending the week looking for things that I think are interesting, and surprisingly, there are a lot of things. Plus, my contacts are starting to come through with interesting article they're writing. So that's pretty good.

I wrote ten this Saturday, and I only have five to do this week because we're having a company confab called Iconosphere. Iconosphere is a presentation where we talk with our clients about what we do and how we do it. Not a bad idea. I'll be there on Tuesday and Wednesday to offer advice and also help out the main African American strategist.

I'm finally in Tim Albaugh's 434 class, and everyone who's taken him has sung his praises. He's a cool guy and I'm hoping, as with all of my 434 classes, to learn something I didn't know. I want each script at UCLA to be progressively better.

Our first assignment is two write a two page story, a letter from our protag and antag to their mistress (or in my case, their master? My protag and antags are women), and the obituary of both. I've rewritten the three page story to The Bestsellers, and made it much more sharp. Amazing, but all this summer, I thought the story was crisp and cool. The minute I know I have to turn it into someone, I can instantly see the holes. Next, I'm going to finish the rest of the assignment.

Tomorrow, I'll see if I can get into the documentary course to fulfill one of my critical studies requirements. The Kevin Smith thing meant that I missed the first class. Hopefully, that won't be a problem. But we'll see. It looks like I'll have class all day on Monday until 10pm, and then partly on Wednesday. That's 18 units, which will take me to 62 units. I only need 72 units to graduate, so theoretically, I could take two classes in the winter quarter and then pass on my spring quarter. We'll see.

As for the book, didn't really get a chance to write. But no worries. Ten weeks till D-Day. The new goal is to write 5000 words per week, keying on Tuesdays and Thursdays as the main writing times.

For Secrets and Lives, I need to meet with Krystal. Dave Johnson, my 434 teacher last spring, has agreed to read it and offer advice, which is cool. I need to flesh out the character sketches Krystal and I worked on, create a story for the pilot, and then do a beat sheet. Krystal needs to plot out the thirteen episodes for her thesis, but I think I'm going to let her do that. Ted Frank told me that this is really unnecessary if a series gets picked up because when the writers get together, the stories have to be approved anyway, so there's no reason to plot it out. But I'm pretty sure Krystal has to do it for her exercise. Now that my schedule is getting set, I can schedule a regular time to meet with her.

I need to write a summary of my fiction manuscript. I submitted a couple of potential titles, but honestly, I'm not happy with them. It's my fault because nothing come to mind. But it'll come.

More than likely, I'll need a hotel weekend to write. Don't know when, probably sometime in October, but it'll be soon.

I paid my UCLA reg fees last week, so it's time to head to the gym. So the official weight loss countdown begins tomorrow morning when I head to the gym for the first time in about eight, no ten weeks. Remember guys, it's 35lbs in twelve weeks. I'm about to get as fit as Issac on Celebrity Fit Club. lol

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dropped the Kevin Smith Class...

Had to do it. One, the time commitment was going to be waaaaaay to much for me. Thought the writers would be on a fixed schedule, but no haps. Also, I think I've noted before that I'm a believer in red flags, and this class was full of more red flags than the old Soviet Union on May Day.

Better to get out before you sign your name to the dotted line and be happy, versus trudging through and be angry. All opportunities aren't created equal for every person. The brilliant Howard Suber once said, and my screenwriting friend Phil reminded me (and Phil dropped the class too), that the best and smartest thing you can tell this industry from time to time is one simple word: no.

Just got back from speaking at Albany State, and I've got to tell you. When you speak at an historically black college, it's like speaking in front of your family at Thanksgiving. It's fun as hell, people you''ve never met treat you like you're a long lost relative, and they try to fill you up with as much food as possible. And the food is ALL good. I spoke at 10am after flying into Atlanta at midnight, and then driving three hours to Albany. Told the Holiday Inn cat at the front desk, the one with the ponytail, but bald on top, that I needed an eight thirty am wake up call. Uh, never happened. No biggie. This isn't my first time at the rodeo. I go to sleep at four am, but keep the television on. That way, I wake up periodically. Works like a charm, except you don't get a solid four hours of sleep.

Lecture, then to a luncheon, and then on a puddle jumper back to Atlanta then LAX.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What I'm Listening to...

The first day of school is done. Went to the Kevin Smith class. MUCH better. We're still working on stuff, but much better atmosphere. Tomorrow, I pitch Linda and then send Tim a summary for my 434. I speak in Albany, Ga. as I close out the lecture schedule I'd made prior to Iconoculture. BTW, this is what's playing now on my iPod. If you're never listened to Prefab, you're missing out...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Work to do this week...

Observations for Iconoculture written. Tomorrow, I will write all day on the book. The hope: 5000 words. All day. I'll start by getting up in the morning and watching Manchester United versus Newcastle. And then NFL all day. I feel bad because grad school and my work really limits how much family time I can allocate, but Langston is going to his art class, so at least he gets to get out of the house. My book is due in ten weeks, and that means I need to write at least five thousand words per week. No execeptions. It's gonna be a hellava ride. Still working on a name for the fiction manuscript. Need to have that and cover ideas, which I might add, is the first time I've been asked about cover ideas since the Divine Nine. But I really can't complain about Kensington covers. I've pretty much liked them.