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I got good feedback from my entry of my TV pilot Hood into this year's BlueCat Screenwriting Competition! It was the best kind, because the good stuff was very complimentary, and the critiques were both minor and actually insightful and useful, worth incorporating into an edit of the piece.

My report from my reader:

"What did you like about this script?

This was an extremely original take on the familiar Robin Hood tale. Updating it and setting it up as a corporate thriller made it different and exciting. There was almost non-stop action, though not only of the explosive kind. I particularly liked the elevator scene.

We saw a lot of backstory and character development in just this one episode. Plus, a lot of things were set in motion. Who is attacking Locksley Materials? Why don’t John and his mother want authorities snooping around? How will Robin get his reputation back and avoid the authorities? The pilot has a lot of momentum.

I also loved the characters and thought it was wise to update them as well… like turning Will Scarlet into female hacker Scarlet or making “Maid” Marian Latina. They were very believable and consistent.

You also did a good job of revealing things in a timely manner, letting the mystery unfold organically. Your dialogue was generally great and you wove your exposition into the story well, like when Marian expresses doubts about Robin by telling a story from their college days together on page 35.

I would love to see more of this show, since there are many tantalizing plot threads left up in the air.

What do you think needs work?

There were a few minor things that could be clarified to make this script even better. For example, I know Robin was desperate but he really thought that going off a bridge would be preferable to getting arrested? Maybe he’s not in the best state of mind, but I was surprised he chose to do that. Now, if someone drove him off the road, I could believe it a bit more.

Also, while Scarlet and Marian were wonderful characters, it might help to emphasize why they want to help Robin find the truth. It’s mentioned a few times that Robin helped Scarlet get to where she is, but it’s still a huge leap for her to risk her livelihood for him. Their banter does show that they’re friends, but are they so close she’d take a chance getting fired or arrested? Likewise, Marian seems to have doubts about Robin but is also suspicious that something else is going on. Her thirst for the truth needs to be so powerful that it overcomes her doubts about Robin and her worries for her job. I know her mom seemed to be affected so maybe playing that up a little would further show the audience why she’s willing to risk the career she worked so hard for."

It would really make me happy if I placed in this. Adonis made it into the top ten percent of BlueCat back in 2015, and it's a reputable contest. It's a nice thing to be able to attach to a project when you're pitching it, so it would be great if Hood could progress.
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Here continues my musing on some tropes that frequently recur in my writing! Specifically, analyzing my tendency to use what I refer to as "Soft Masc" protagonists-- "a male character with a presentation that is fairly normatively masculine, but with a preponderance of personal qualities that were traditionally coded as feminine" --and how that manifests.

Continues from part 1 and part 2.

Romantic relationships:

Nathaniel is married to Clara, to whom he is utterly devoted. They are functional friends, lovers, and partners, with perhaps a more equitable relationship than other couples of his time. He actually is inclined to let her run the show, as the more strident personality, though her power is unofficial and based off of his feelings for her. Notably, she is three years older than him.

Aidan loves Diana, despite their meeting under the problematic mistress-slave dynamic. She is very much the dominant partner with all the power in the relationship, an issue they have to navigate. In fact, their relationship is specifically a flipping of the expected gender roles of the hetero dynamic, where he takes on the traditionally feminine role and she the masculine one. She is ten years older than him.

Tom falls for Alice, a girl he meets in the course of unraveling a mystery they’re both connected to. He is off a lower social class than she is, which makes forming a relationship difficult, and he feels he has no right to presume to her affections. He is a few years older than her.

Robin I plan to eventually get together with Marian, the canonical love interest for the legendary character. In his past, he dates and sleeps around a great deal, often choosing so-called “high value” partners such as models and famous people, as an outward symbol of status. He’s hooked up with other men, though probably never dated one more than extremely casually. Before finally connecting him with Marian, I would have him get together with other characters in his typical way before settling the two of them together. The idea of him committing to, and growing in order to deserve, a serious romantic relationship would be part of his character journey.

Justin is a ladies’ man in a similar vein to Robin. A confirmed bachelor, he is committed to having fun above all else and will likely never settle down. He presents himself honestly and is happy to make casual connections but is not out to deceive, hurt, or use anyone. He also has a handful of experiences with men in his past, mostly from his days at Harrow and a few after.

Nathaniel is the most normatively masculine, followed by Tom. Aidan is certainly the least.

Relationship with female superiors:

Being able to defer to women is a major feature I include in portrayals of this kind of man.

Both Tom and Nathaniel have female mentor figures. Tom learned his craft from his mother, and her part in the mystery he stumbles upon drives him to investigate it. Nathaniel started out modeling himself on the Colonel, a very traditionally masculine man, but as the Hawking stories go on, he comes to focus more on learning from, and winning the approval of, his aunt instead. He listens to her expertise, follows her orders, and respects her authority.

Though not a mentor per se, Aidan follows and defers on most matters to his sister Morna. He acknowledges she is the superior intellect and is inclined to trust her judgment above his own. He treats her as if she had some sort of seniority, even though he is in fact four years older than her. Also in living as a slave in a matriarchy, he is accustomed to most women having some real power over him.

Robin has no “senior” woman in his life whom he is emulating or deferring to. He is again the most normatively masculine of my male protagonists.

The only way this is relevant for Justin is that he will confess to being intimidated by Mrs. Hawking. If nothing else, he respects her enough to fear her.

Relationships with female peers:

Strongly valuing female friendship and connection and respecting the strength and expertise of women is another intrinsic quality of this kind of male character.

Nathaniel’s friendship with Mary is one of the most important connections of his life. He does due to socialization sometimes slip back into patriarchal assumptions, but he is working to unlearn this. He does seriously respect her abilities and is interested in her as a person.

Similarly, Aidan’s closest relationship, perhaps even more so than the one with Diana, is with his sister Morna. Their shared experience of conquest and slavery has unbreakably bonded them, and he believes in her brilliance and capability above all else.

Tom has spent his life working in a female-dominated industry and it taught him enormous respect for women. One of his special skills is his ability to listen to and understand the world of women in a way other men of his time and place do not, making him trustworthy to them.

Robin, for all the effort he puts into chasing them down as sexual partners, also has real female friendships. His best friend is Scarlet, whom he respects enormously as an intellect, enough that he has given her enormous professional opportunities. He does, however, impose on her to keep his grandiose promises and get him out of trouble, but I tend to this is more about his own self-centeredness than because she is a woman.
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Here continues my musing on some tropes that frequently recur in my writing! Specifically, analyzing my tendency to use what I refer to as "Soft Masc" protagonists-- "a male character with a presentation that is fairly normatively masculine, but with a preponderance of personal qualities that were traditionally coded as feminine" --and how that manifests.

Continues from part 1.

Skills and Abilities:

The key factor of how I couch the skills of these characters is that they possess a certain charisma— the ability to make people like, respond to, and sympathize with them is extremely important to how they pursue their goals. Of course this is not necessarily a gendered thing, but because it lends them to having the managing of relationships at their forefront, they often take the feminine caretaker, peacemaker, or emotional support roles.

Nathaniel’s skills are primarily interpersonal— talking, convincing, wheedling, distracting, ingratiating, lying, peacemaking. He serves as both the face and the glue of his superhero team, a role which is usually filled by a female character. He is specifically not very good at martial stuff, in defiance of masculine expectation. His charisma is from sparkling wit, friendly bearing, and a puppy-like effort to please.

Aidan’s skills are presented dichotomously. On one hand, he is honed into a seriously dangerous warrior and becomes quite good at it, which is very masculine coded. On the other hand, he serves as the inspirational figurehead of the rebellion due to his ability to court people projecting their dreams onto him, which is more feminine. His charisma lies in his unique dichotomies of strength and fragileness, power and softness, that make people fall in love with him.

Tom Barrows is also a strongly interpersonal operator, using his ability to read others and connect with them in order to make his way. Again there is some personal charisma at play, but it is lower key than Nathaniel’s Life of the Party type or Aidan’s Wounded Beauty. Not to mention the fact that he is an extremely skilled dressmaker.

Robin somewhat relies on interpersonal skills to maneuver, but more because HE IS A CHARISMA MACHINE LIKE A ROCK STAR. He is presented as fit and dexterous, with martial hobbies, and an aptitude for physicality. He is almost as physical a character as Aidan is, though not as great a warrior. Simultaneously, his privilege has insulated him from having to learn many hard skills, and attention is drawn to just how useless he is in many ways.

Justin is somewhere between Nathaniel and Robin. He has his brother’s Life of the Party presence with Robin’s showier, more arrogant edge. His skill set is similar to Nathaniel’s—and though he is not quite as empathetic, he still has something of his brother’s ability to pick up on the state of those around him.

Values:

Nathaniel’s value shift is a major part of his journey as a character. He begins with very expected masculine values for a Victorian man— being the head of a family, martial strength, responsibility for the lives of others, admiring soldiers and the empire, the established social order. But while he maintains some of those, much of his story is about coming to deconstruct the problems of patriarchy and shift his values so that he stops being complicit.

Aidan is quiet and wounded, with a longing for a peace he’s never known. He is in something of a Maslow’s crisis for most of the story, where the needs to survive, heal, and protect others consume him to the point where there is no time for him to really discover who he is in the absence of struggle and trauma. He dislikes the attention and spotlight his position as figurehead of a rebellion has brought him, not to mention the necessity to make himself into a warrior and inflict violence. But likely he would prefer some quiet, creative pursuit, like baking or poetry, far out of the public eye, had the circumstances of his life been kinder.

The chief fascination and calling of Tom’s life is the making of beautiful clothes, dresses in particular. His experience with and connection to feminine circles where there are not often a lot of other men have given him a particular appreciation for the wisdom of women. Otherwise his values are fairly normatively masculine, particularly courage, hard work, and cleverness.

Robin is afflicted with some level of toxic masculinity. He cares about showing off, asserting his dominance and superiority over other guys, getting laid, and indulging in his entitlements. Getting over it is his major character journey.

Justin’s a bit of a wildcard. I actually conceive of him as having a slightly more enlightened attitude toward Victorian social mores than some men of his time. For all that he’s a ladies’ man, he never deceives, manipulates, coerces, or uses, nor does he really look down on any women who are interested in a fling. But he does have a pretty hefty dose of Victorian patriarchy, and assumes he knows better than most other people, partially because of his status in the world.

Sexuality:

Nathaniel, Aidan, and Tom are all straight. Robin and Justin aren’t quite.

Aidan’s sexuality is complicated by years of rape and abuse by women. He experiences the trepidation around sex and intimacy which we most often see in women who are survivors. He is sexually drawn to women, but has to first disentangle the trauma from his sense of his own sexuality. Because of the matriarchal culture of his world, his socially expected role is that of the receptive rather than the aggressive partner, which in the real world is often assigned to women.

Nathaniel’s romantic and sexual history is fairly standard for a man of his time, place, and station. He is straight, fell in love with a woman he was attracted to, has been happily married to her for several years, and has two children with her. He might very well have been a virgin when he got married due to his particular value set, and he is to this day a little bit of a prude for similar reasons. Other than having perhaps an unusually equal partnership for their setting, his romantic life and history are totally normal and socially sanctioned for a man like him.

Tom Barrows is also pretty standard and straightforward. He is not terribly romantically experienced but it is attributed to his workaholic tendencies leaving no time for relationships. The way he falls for Alice is a bit naïve and boyish due to this inexperience.

Robin I picture as a Kinsey 1 or 2— mostly attracted to women, but drawn to the occasional man as well, with sexual experience of both in his background. Again this is something he shares with my conception of Justin Hawking. These are the two of my characters for whom “playboy” is the most intrinsic part of their identities, so I find it interesting that I found myself disinclined to make either of them as straight as might be expected. I think of hypersexuality as a highly masculine-coded trait, so this mitigates it a bit. And I think it adds an unexpected kind of sexiness on top of the other qualities that make them attractive. This may simply be my own taste.

For once, Robin is the least normatively masculine. I would say Nathaniel here is probably the most.

I notice that I tend to use sexuality as almost a “balancing” factor. If my hero has many non-traditionally masculine qualities, I use straightness as a way to bring some presence of traditional masculinity in the character. If the character is more normatively masculine overall, I often push them towards the other end of the Kinsey scale in order to keep them from being too traditional.

Also, if I’m honest, “hot butch guy who’s like 85% straight” is a type of mine.

To be concluded in part 3!
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Here begins my musing on some tropes that frequently recur in my writing!

The trope that has become increasingly important to my work in recent times is what I’ll call the Soft Masc— a male character with a presentation that is fairly normatively masculine, but with a preponderance of personal qualities that were traditionally coded as feminine. Most of the important men I write these days are some variation on this, as I find myself particularly interested in that particular personality type.

The two foremost examples I’ve got are my two most prominent male leads, Nathaniel from Mrs. Hawking and Aidan from Adonis. Nathaniel is from a Victorian superhero story, while Aidan is from an alternate history matriarchal Ancient Roman epic. Tom, the lead of my 1930s mystery The Tailor at Loring’s End, also fits that to some extent. In contrast, another prominent male character I’ve made recently is Robin from my modern-day techno-thriller interpretation of Robin Hood. I’ve also written Justin Hawking recently, Nathaniel’s brother, though he’s not a protagonist.

Here is an analysis of how these characters either fit or subvert this model of Soft Masc character.

Personality:

A key component of when I write this sort of character is that they are almost always sensitive and in touch with their feelings.

Nathaniel is considered to be highly emotional for a man of his time and place. Though not free of socialization to stay controlled and to not discuss uncomfortable things, he has strong feelings that he talks about more often than is typical. He is deeply sensitive to the moods of the people around him, even if he can’t fathom the cause. He suffers greatly when the people he cares about are in conflict, particularly when they’re angry at him, and feels strong compulsion to manage their feelings. Above all else, he seeks approval, particularly from those he worries he hasn’t gotten it from. He is known to cry under great emotional duress. His interpersonal abilities are paramount, and he places a lot of stock in his relationships.

One of Aidan’s key traits is his emotional vulnerability. He is in a great deal of emotional pain due to years of assault, and is written to be cast not just in the manner of a traditionally feminine emotional landscape, but as a long term sexual assault survivor who is trying to work through his trauma. He also is full of feelings and sensitive, but often lacks the language, or opportunity, to talk about what he’s going through. He is used to repressing reactions of out necessity for safety and coping, but has no personal reservations about showing his vulnerability.

Tom’s sensitivity is treated as his superpower. His ability to read people and detect what is going on with them below the surface is his chief skill in navigating interpersonal relationships, making friendships, allies, and trust bonds, and in gathering the information he needs to solve the mystery in front of him. Like Nathaniel, he has strong interpersonal skills.

By contrast, Robin is Tony Stark, basically. Talented, exceptional, self-absorbed, arrogant, provocative, attention-seeking, addiction-prone. Only difference is he lacked any of Tony’s inner self-loathing until life gave him a good smack down. He is not good at noticing or paying attention to the feelings of others and has to challenge himself to develop in that way.

Justin is along a similar vein to Robin, except lower key and less toxic about it, without the addictive personality.

Appearance:

Nathaniel is considered attractive and good-looking, in a normatively masculine way. He is somewhat personally vain and has a strong interest in fashion, a feminine-coded quality, but to the effect of a very attractive and normatively masculine presentation.

Aidan is in fact a PARAGON of masculine beauty. (I like my pretty boys, and that’s the kind of pretty I like.) He is treated as an object of value in the manner exceptionally beautiful women are in the real world. But for all that Aidan’s beauty is extreme and in high focus, as is more typical of feminine beauty, it is not something that’s important to him personally, and he does nothing to cause or maintain it, as is often typical of men.

Tom Barrows from The Tailor at Loring’s End is nice-looking if nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but knows how to dress to absolute best advantage— indeed, his profession and the great interest of his life is the making of beautiful clothes, for men and for women.

Robin Locksley from Hood is hot, fashionable, and extremely vain— but again, his appearance is fairly normatively masculine. Justin Hawking is the same.

They all have traditionally masculine gender presentations, as that is my personal aesthetic preference, though body types vary. In my imagination, Nathaniel is tall and lean. Aidan looks just like Captain America. Tom is fit and cute but unimposing. Robin is a hot douchebag who works on his body. Justin is a stockier version of Nathaniel.

To be continued!
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So earlier this week, I got a very encouraging email from my producer contact! Bernie and I sent her our Hood pilot at the beginning of the month, and she read it right away and gave a very positive response! She not only really likes it, she thinks it has potential in the current market. I am ridiculously pleased, as our effort was to create something solid that was specifically commercial, and it looks like she thinks we succeeded. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that she told us she's sharing it around with colleagues; the more eyes on it, the more people can get behind it.

She asked us to write a show bible for it as our next step. That's our next important project, with the intention of getting it to her in the next two weeks. That means I'll be prioritizing that over scene generation until it's finished, so I may not have time to focus on new scenes. Of course I'll still be writing, so I'll just post Hood scenes that were an equivalent amount of work in its place.

Like today, I have focused myself on getting a good start into the bible. So I'm posting this scene of Robin and John from around the midpoint of the story. It takes place after all the Hood scenes posted up to this point except for Day #3 - Rich Boy Out of Water, which it comes a little bit before.

Day #21 - Run )
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I spent the day planning a piece, which is definitely necessary writing work, but it did not result in anything postable. So I'm posting another Hood scene to stand in. This occurs directly after Day #7 - Let the Grown Ups Handle It.

Also, I got encouraging news about the Hood pilot yesterday, so this is in a way to celebrate that. More on this later!

Day #18 - He'll Show Them )
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I think I have completed the Hood pilot! I'm really glad. I've been working away on relatively minor edits that need to convey a lot with a little, so I've been tweaking them over and over again, but I think I'm at a place where I'm satisfied. Good thing, too, as today is the day I said I'd be sending it along. That's a pretty big accomplishment and I am happy and proud!

So I'm posting another scene from it, one that had to be tweaked based on feedback from the reading dinner. This scene takes place after John and Marian receive the news that a manufacturing facility blew up in Day #2 - Bullseye, but reveals that John may know more about what caused it than he's saying. It also shows how most of the figures are directly from Robin Hood legend, but we're also incorporating adjacent figures from English history or historical literature-- in this case, Eleanor of Acquitaine from The Lion in Winter.

Day #8 - Get the House in Order )
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Spent most of the day editing the Hood pilot, not only to cut it down but also to add in all the stuff that was recommended for inclusion in the reading. It seemed easier to reduce to a conventional hour-long page count than to pad it out to two hours, at least in the limited amount of time I have left. Unfortunately it's still pretty long at 65 pages. It's an action script with a lot of things happening simultaneously, which artificially inflates the page count, but still. And I have things to fit in. The most challenging edit is to make the journeys of the supporting cast clear. It needs to be done in relatively minor edits so as to not bloat it out, but a lot of substance has to get packed in to make the character feel complete.

This scene is where the executives convene to decide how they're going to deal with the industrial accident and its fallout. Robin gets upset that they tried to cut him out, because they seem him as an irresponsible mess.

Day #7 - Let the Grown Ups Handle It )
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So here's where attempting to apply the 31P31D system to support my current work plan breaks down. If I'm in the process of drafting a new project that I've already got a plan for, it provides really helpful structure to make me actually get words on the page. But if I'm in a different stage of the writing process, like outlining or editing, it's neither all that helpful nor reflective of the work that I'm actually doing toward creating good pieces.

Like right now, the Hood pilot is drafted and was read by wonderful, insightful people who gave me some great feedback. So now I've got to edit it, and in fairly short order too. But that means while I'm doing meaningful work, I don't have anything new.

Whatever. I need to be less hung up on the technicalities and just do the writing I need to do. If I post a piece that's already written to keep things consistent, who cares? And hey, I honestly wrote a new scene every day for the month of JULY in drafting Hood, so it's not like I didn't hit the productivity goal, and a month early at that.

So this piece comes directly after Day #2 - Bullseye. It's slightly cut down due to editing, but it's not one of the ones that will require real surgery. Those are going to be my next priority.

Day #6 - More Than Flash )
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Today's scene is in fact one I wrote today. It's one of the last scenes I have left to draft for the Hood pilot, which I need to have a solid and serviceable first version of for this Friday.

A tenent of dramatic storytelling is that for your protagonist's arc to be compelling, they must have a journey that really challenges them and requires the farthest possible distance for them to go in order to reach their goal. In this case, we set Robin up as a trust fund brat who inherited a huge company and never had to work hard or struggle in his life. We did that so that in the course of the story he would have all that taken away, all his money, position, and power, so that when he starts on the journey of the series, he cannot fall back on all his usual tools and safeguards. That will require him to develop skills, self-reliance, fortitude-- and most of all, an empathy for others who don't have the advantages he lucked into.

This scene is right after he's been declared an "outlaw" basically. Even though he's innocent of the crime they accused him of, the police are closing in on him. They follow him constantly and shut down his bank accounts, and he concludes the only way to remain a free man is to run away. Unfortunately his escape plan goes awry and he is run aground by police pursuers in "Sherwood," the local rundown urban area. Up to this point, his privilege and money has shielded him from all struggle. But here's what happens when the prince is forced out of his kingdom to live in the real world, and how hard it is for him to face that kind of suffering.

Day #3 - Rich Boy Out of Water )
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Today I worked on an important scene for Hood, my Robin Hood-themed heist show pilot. But scene I wrote was probably the emotional climax for the whole piece, so it's not something I want to post in isolation. Those belong in context, at least when I'm close to finishing the whole piece. (Honestly, I don't know how many people actually read these scenes when I post them, but just in case anyone does, I'm controlling the release for a better reader experience of my work.) So, as I did last year when I was working on Base Instruments, I'm posting a different scene of more or less equivalent work just to have something to put up and keep to the spirit of the challenge. I get a real boost out of having completed scenes to share, which I why I like this format. Plus it keeps me accountable to write.

So today I'm posting the opening scene of the Hood pilot instead. This was actually MURDER to write. It took me a couple weeks of planning and chipping away until I finally pushed to have a complete draft of it this past Sunday. Openings for TV shows, pilots in particular, are VERY IMPORTANT as they can make the difference between somebody deciding whether or not to keep reading or watching further. So I wanted to do something kind of complex and spectacular-- combining a high-action scene setting up a mystery and an introduction to the main character, where the character's words introduce the main themes of the series in an ironic way, thereby showing that, in his lack of understanding them, this is what he's going to have to learn.

Tough stuff! I actually think I got most of the way there. This will need some editing, of course-- if nothing else, it's almost eight pages long, which is too long for a traditional opener --but the ideas are there.

Day #2 - Bullseye )
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I hesitate to say it for fear of jinxing it or speaking too soon, but I think I can finally declare that I've recovered from the most intense burnout period of my life. It took almost two months, but I actually think I feel like my old self again, with my old energy and productivity. I confess I still feel fragile, like if things get tougher I may lose it all, but I'm hoping I'm actually past that level of exhaustion.

I'm back mostly in my preferred life routine, with regular exercise, careful if not obsessively controlled eating, staying on top of chores, and working on projects on a regular basis. I've gotten into a writing groove I'm pretty damn pleased with. I finished the edit of the Mrs. Hawking pilot and sent that off to my contact, which made for a respectable two-week turnaround. That's one item off my current list. I'm making steady progress on the Hood pilot draft as well, generating at least one scene for it every day. My plan on that is to get it sent in no later than one month after our last meeting, in an effort to keep to a brisk, efficient schedule.

I'm trying to maintain the work habits I've historically found to be the most efficient. I am a big proponent of the "vomit" or "slam" drafting process, which is where you just push to get a complete draft on paper without worrying if it's exactly right or not. I find that editing as I go prevents me from actually getting the words on the page. I do much better if I can just MAKE THE THING EXIST, and then editing and improving it once it does. So my current plan is to get it all technically "complete" without really rereading once it is, and once I've got a full draft, then go back and start fixing. It means I think this one is particularly rough at the moment, but I think it will make the improvement process easier on the back end.
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Every year since 2012, I have participated in a playwriting challenge called 31 Plays in 31 Days, where you write a play of at least one page in length every day for the month of August. The focus is on encouraging generation, with as much rein to be creative and free of restriction as possible. In the past I've found it extremely useful, whether for simply generating new work, building up my portfolio of ten-minutes, or making progress on larger pieces I wanted to get drafted.

August is right around the corner, so I find myself with the option of putting myself to the test again. But I'm wondering if it's the best use of my time. Right now it's not terribly useful to me to just be writing random new scenes-- I have enough projects already planned on I'd rather be devoting my time and energy to. The obvious move in that case is to use 31P31D to force myself to make progress on one of those projects. That's basically what I did last year, when I mostly focused on getting a complete draft of Base Instruments, and it proved to be very effective.

Last year, however, I'd spent the previous several months plotting Base Instruments out and making an outline of the events. I believe structure is very important and my work tends to involve a lot of plotting, so figuring out the shape of events beforehand is really necessary to my process. Right now I don't have that prepared for anything I want to work on right now. Well, except for my Robin Hood-inspired heist show pilot. But I'm two-thirds of the way done with that right now, and I'm aiming to have it completely finished by the 8th, so it wouldn't provide me with much to work on for the month.

The other thing I'd be thinking of working on this year is the fourth Mrs. Hawking play. But as I said, I haven't been able to do all the extensive plot structuring and outlining I really like to do before I actually draft. I don't know if I'd be ready to actually write many scenes for it by August. Plus that piece is going to involve a lot of historical research beforehand anyway, which I definitely have not had a chance to do. So I don't know if I can manage that.

The other alternative is to change the nature of the challenge. I could decide to hold myself to a different standard, such as doing X amount of writing-involved work for a piece for each day of August. I've been reluctant to do that, as I said when I was pondering this last year around this time, because it's harder to measure and quantify, and it's very difficult to display results of any kind. I kind of like having a little thing I wrote to post every day.

I'm not sure. I really do like doing the challenge, as it's been useful for me every year so far. I'd love to experience that kind of productivity boost again, but the circumstances may just not be right for it this time. Maybe I'll do it anyway because it makes me feel good, or maybe I'll decide it will take too much time and effort away from more productive writing work. Haven't decided yet.
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It's that time of year that I think making a list of all my projects, in the order in which they are should be prioritized, would be a solid idea. Plus I like to let people know all the cool stuff I'm working on. They are organized by which month's ending I need to have them done:

July

Editing the Mrs. Hawking pilot. In a very good meeting with my producer contact, she gave us some solid critiques for the next version. They actually were easier to incorporate than we feared they'd be. We're aiming to have the next version done by the end of the month to send back to her. It's almost done, it just needs one more pass or so to make sure all the changes are smoothly incorporated.

Treatment for Vivat Regina. This is basically a special kind of summary for how this story would work as an episode. This will get sent in along with the edited pilot and be appended to the Mrs. Hawking show bible.

Treatment for Base Instruments. Basically the same deal; write it up as if it were an episode of the series.

August

Finishing the Hood pilot. This is the new piece we're going to send along. Currently it's about half-drafted, and we're shooting to have it finished to get feedback from a reading dinner early next month. This is the biggest project in the package, so we may get the first three completed and sent before we're done with this, so we don't keep her waiting too long.

Finalizing my Freshman Comp syllabus. This is basically done. I just need to add in the page numbers from the new version of the textbook, which I'll be receiving later this week.

Finalizing my Essentials of English syllabus. Also basically done, requiring only the addition of page numbers.

Finalizing my Business Writing syllabus. This one needs more work, as I've never taught business writing before and am new to designing a class for it. I'm trying to chip away at it a little at a time, but it needs to be done by the end of August.

September

Put together Peggy's Properties. This is the ten-minute play I am directing for the Shorts Festival Chameleon's Dish Theatre is holding at the Democracy Center on September 23rd and 24th.

Finalized Base Instruments script for performance. We will begin rehearsals in late October, but I'd like to have the script all edited and ready in advance. I know some the actors would appreciate the advance look.

Blocking Base Instruments. Again, we start rehearsing in October, but it's important for me to be as prepared as possible going into the process. The more I can get done in advance, the less I have to worry about while I'm also teaching three classes and getting all the other aspects of production in order.
breakinglight11: (CT photoshoot 1)
I am at my happiest when I have a goal to work towards and sufficient encouragement to make me feel like I have hope to achieve it. I'm pleased to say I've got that going for me right now.

Bernie and I had a very encouraging meeting with that cool producer that loved the Adonis script and asked to read the Mrs. Hawking TV pilot. She liked the pilot too and indeed saw production potential in it! She had some very good criticisms of it, the kind that made sense, supported realizing the vision, and were definitely conducive to making edits. She thinks she might be able to hook us up with a manager or agent by introducing us to the right people. God knows nothing's sure, but it's definitely encouraging to know that the possibility is there.

So we have a lot of work to do from here. Bernie and I are going to make the requested edits to the Mrs. Hawking pilot. She also thought it was a good idea to write treatments for the other Hawking stories, which would involve adapting the plays into episodes. AND she asked if we had anything else we were working on, to which we gave her our pitch for Hood! That's our Robin Hood heist series updated to a modern setting. So that means we need to put together that pilot, to a high standard in short order. This piece is supposed to be a little more commercial, cheaper to produce, and broader of appeal than some of the other things we've done, with an end to helping it get sold.

It's a tall order, but I'm really excited to get to work. Nose to the grindstone!
breakinglight11: (CT photoshoot 1)
Bernie and I have another meeting on the books with that producer lately I've been in contact with. As you may recall, she loved my Adonis script but said it wasn't possible for her do anything with it right now, and asked me what else I had. For that, Bernie and I whipped our Mrs. Hawking TV pilot into shape and sent it along. Her response to that was positive as well; she liked it and wanted to set up a meeting to give us notes. That is encouraging; as I was told recently, if an exec just gushes about how much they like it, that means they can't make it, but if they just tell you all the stuff they want to change, it means they actually have an interest in doing something with it. So that seems like a good sign (and now that I think about it, is borne out by my experience with the two pieces I've given her.)

Our meeting is set for Skype on July 9th. I'm excited but nervous. I'm prepared for critique, but it's always a scary prospect to have a piece that's your baby possibly get ripped apart. I am trying to stay open to whatever, especially since maybe there's a chance that will help it get produced. But also, I want to have something else in the trickbag to show her in case she asks what else we've got.

To that end, Bernie and I are working on a new pilot, something both a little less personal and maybe a little more commercial. Basically it's a heist show telling a techno-corporate-espionage version of Robin Hood-- when a spoiled trust fund baby is framed to take the fall for corporate malfeasance, his whole life is ruined and he is forced to go on the run to avoid prison. At first he's out for revenge, but eventually learns how people's lives are ruined by corporate greed and manipulation, and forms a crew of guerrilla activists who work to bring down the corporation for justice. We're hacking a pitch and hopefully a full pilot script together in time for the meeting. I'm hoping that it might be a little easier to sell, and because it's not quite so emotionally dear to me, I'd be more open to making requested changes.

Anyway, I'm hopeful. Having a project and an opportunity in front of me helps my mental state, and helps me stay positive about the trajectory of my career.

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