Thursday, July 8, 2010

How being a finalist crushed me.

I learned a valuable lesson after placing in TheFilmSchool’s short screenplay contest. Everything that is wrong with my stories suddenly slapped me in the face.

I submitted three stores. Click the download link on the right to check them out. Of those three, the one I liked the least placed. “No Such Things.”

After mulling it over for a few weeks and conversing with my wife it suddenly dawned on me why that one was special. Then my other stories started trickling into my mind, and everything that is wrong with them became glaringly obvious.

They are a series of events. Damn cool events but just the same. They are gauntlets that I am running my characters through. That’s fine. But it’s not good enough. It needs to be about the character themselves before we give a shit that they are even going through the gauntlet in the first place.

Yeah, yeah, I could link a hundred books telling me this very thing. But until you see it, and realize it, and live it, and do it, it makes no sense and you don’t really get it.

When someone asks you what your story is about, how do you answer? Is the story about a boy and his car that’s not really a car? Or is about giant transforming robots? Which story do you want to see? Transformers rocked. Transformers II was polished turd.

The good news. I get it now.

The bad news. Holy shit do I have a lot of work to do.

I just finished my second rewrite of I.F.O. I was hoping that it would be done so I could turn it into the guild. Wrong. Last month if someone were to ask me what I.F.O. is about I would have something like; “It’s about a boy who becomes trapped on a UFO.” Today I would answer that question with; “It’s a story about a strained father-son relationship. It just so happens it’s set aboard an alien spacecraft under siege.” That’s not a polished description but it’s a damn sight better than the first sentence.

What is Air Bears about? The dawn of the age of the flying car? Or a comic book geek living a dream only to see it come crashing down…pun intended?

Is Rebooting Andy about a gamer who games to much or a young married couple being driven apart by his gaming descend into a tit for tat game of extremes? I need to work on this one.

Bottom line, I couldn’t be happier. Above that line, I am pissed that I spent hours building those stories only to have them be flawed at the core.

Silver lining, I would not be where I am today had I not written that shit.

That is all.