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Patience (or Lack Thereof) in Thesisland

Creativity requires the virtue of patience when it comes to the full picture. As I inch towards the completion of my thesis, my anxiety and moody temperament has begun to take over my mind and spirit. I’ve felt like my process has come to a standstill. The waiting and wondering have begun to weight on me as a writer.

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Living in line editing limbo pushed me to a place I hate going to – self-aware anxiety. This mindset has infiltrated every aspect of my life including my writing. I’ve found myself wanting to start revising and editing my screenplay again, but without some direction, I’m stuck at a standstill. My mental time clock has already begun to countdown as midterms approach. Besides the necessary editing, I’ve begun to worry about finishing my thesis as I asked for help on the music composition. Waiting to the last minute usually isn’t my thing, but after some false starts, I’ve begun formulating some lyric (with some outside help coming soon). Being finished yet feeling unfinished has me feeling like I’m in writing purgatory. Being stuck has sent my mind into a downward spiral of insecurity and self-doubt. But, in the next few weeks, my thesis will be finalized, and all my feelings will subside.

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While I wait on my line edits, I’ve gotten back to classes as usual with a project due next week (yikes!). Working on class assignments has allowed my mind to concentrate on things outside my thesis. My visual output was a little slow as I concentrated on other things (check out my Instagram page). A few things have been brewing on the post-graduate front as I waited for some news on my future (stay tuned to this space). As my thesis deadline approaches, I’ve begun cobbling everything needed for my thesis committee to review. The future as a post-grad has grown closer every day.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

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Creative Overload

Creativity has been my calling since I used to draw and write on yellow legal pads. Over the break, I channeled my creativity into different avenues. No matter what medium I chose, storytelling has always been at the forefront of my mission and purpose.

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During my time away from this blog, I found myself using my time wisely to grow as a writer. Finishing the first draft of my thesis allowed me to focus on work on a litany of shows ideas. I began to focus on two pet projects – a children’s series and a rewrite of a teen dramedy. Focusing on screenwriting outside of thesis helped me to grow as a screenwriter while putting ideas to paper (or computer screen). I worked on some fiction and nonfiction pieces I had been toying with for some time. They allowed me to tweak and restructure what was and wasn’t working. I needed another writing outlet besides this blog. Writing has become an extension of my overactive imagination as I combine reality and fantasy with my words.

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Besides writing, I’ve been working on my visual output as I stepped up my Instagram game. I managed to work on some character designs along with some concept ideas for future potential projects. I went through an awkward time with my social media marketing as I gained followers while feeling anxious about my online presence. All this creativity has helped me to grow my presence on social media along with my website.

I allowed myself to rest a little bit as Christmas and New Year’s rolled around. I needed some creative and personal space as school begins in a week. While my thesis journey nears its end, I find myself feeling both joy and anxiety.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Feedback and Rewrites

After taking a break, editing, revising and rewriting became second nature in the writing process. As an aspiring screenwriter, the writing process became more about clarifying and streamlining my screenplay. Getting outside critique allowed me to see my screenplay with new eyes.

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The break caused me to refocus my writing efforts when it came to my screenplay. Over the past few days, I drew upon outside critique to keep me in line when it came to the story. Streamlining my actions became an important part of my rewrite as I tried synthesizing my words for better interpretation. In case of future readings, I wanted the readers or actors have more room for artistic expression. In the notes I received, some scenes needed reworking so the dialogue and characters could flow better through the story. I had to watch out for some repetitiveness with phrasing and wording. I found myself combing through every word trying to make the reading experience easier. It made me have to think out of the box in contrast to my “everything on the page” approach during the first draft. Expanding some scenes and condensing others fell in line with streamlining the script for a better story.  In working on the story structure, I found myself working on the dialogue. I felt some of the dialogue was a little stale and needed to be refined. Some dialogue was added. Some were synthesized for a more natural feel. Others were expanded for better character development. I did receive some positive notes about the unique perspective and great character development I displayed.  As more feedback begins to come back in, I’ll be able to rework and revise the screenplay even more as I continue on with my winter break.

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I went on a creative hopping spree this week as I bounced between screenwriting, branding and visual output. I began to focus on some character and graphic design throughout the week. I began thinking about what my project for Black History Month next year. Working on other writing projects has crossed my mind over the past few days. Posting on social media and my website have begun to slow down as I focused on creating actual work.

As my winter break goes full swing, I can breathe a little as my thesis class is around the corner. I still have some loose ends to tie up before the quarter starts, but my thesis journey begins to draw to a close. For the first time in a while, I’m not afraid of what’s around the corner.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Relief and Excitement of the Quarter’s End

Something I’ve been dreading yet anticipating finally came to fruition – the end of Fall quarter.   As a creative, this quarter was very important as I juggled school, work and personal life for the past few months. All that work has led to a much-needed break.

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As I spoke on in my last post, exhaustion and anxiety took over my psyche towards the end. This Winter break has been a long-awaited pause in my creative process (even if it’s just a week). Everyone needs that time to recharge, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, I need to focus on my mental and emotional sanity for a bit. Trying to be creative and preparing for the holidays has always been a struggle for me. I’ve found myself getting anxious and bored after only a few days as my work begins calling my name. As I’ve mentioned before, being creative every day can be draining without a break. Writing, drawing, animating, and designing has been great for my profile and brand marketing, but this break is much deserved. Writing my thesis has been a test of my abilities as an artist and writer. Doubt and anxiety filled my head on occasion about my thesis, but I managed to create something tangible and thoughtful. Working and reworking each act afforded me the creative freedom I needed thanks to my professor. Developing the setting and characters pushed me to create something I’m proud of (even if it still needs some work). My creative break will allow me to gain a fresh perspective on my screenplay. I’m looking forward to all the creative things I will do once the break is over.

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While screenwriting has been my main focus, other creative outlets have fought for my time. I tried my best to do Inktober with only one full piece produced. Creating design and art pieces was put on the back burner as writing took most of my focus. The pieces I did manage to crank out were test runs for new techniques with mixed results. I still enjoyed creating them. Freelance work slowed down as my school work and my regular 9-to-5 job took the forefront. But the offers I did field were questionable at best. I decided that my art life would be put on hold for my writer life. But hopefully, this break will allow me to find a balance between writing and creating art.

I look forward to continuing my thesis journey over Winter break and into my final quarter as a graduate student.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Fighting Exhaustion with Creativity

Focusing on creativity has been a balancing act as of late as I juggled many balls in the air. Everyday life has become a little overwhelming as screenwriting took the forefront.  This made for an interesting week of triumphs and struggles.

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Being the end of the quarter, exhaustion began to set in. I found myself having to deal with outside issues while trying to express myself creatively. Going to work and school seemed to drain me of whatever energy I had for my writing and visual work. But I did find time to create in some capacity. I worked on my screenplay trying to flesh out the third act. Due to some other event, I had to create and edit the act in a matter of two days. The pressure made me push myself as a writer while trying to create a cohesive work for Independent Study. I tested ut some scenarios that may or may not work, but I needed to get all the ideas and stories out of my head onto the page. I still didn’t get to the place I wanted since I need to rework the ending to fit the overall story more. I felt like I failed myself in not completing the task ahead. I later thought about my break time is a great time to work on and finesse the third act even more. This, along with revising and editing my first and second acts, has become the main focus of my Winter break.

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It was definitely a struggle to work on my screenplay as physical and mental tiredness began to set in. I didn’t realize how overwhelmed and exhausted I was until I began writing an article and my screenplay. Usually, I could shake this feeling off, but my mind and body couldn’t overcome it. I may appear robotic sometimes to the outside world, but my humanity shows through at times like this. I struggled to meet my mental goals causing my anxiety to skyrocket to the point of shutting down mentally and emotionally. It’s my way of preserving my sanity (might not be the best way but it works for now). My creative output helped me through this period. Hopefully, things will be better as my school break is just around the corner.

As I focused on my screenplay, last week’s Independent Study session served as a turning point by getting some much-needed feedback from my professor. It helped my process as I still waited for feedback from various readers (at this point, I hope to hear from them before the next quarter). Listening to the students speak on their portfolios and presentation was a great exercise in giving feedback as an educator. Once again, a presentation of mine incited a lively conversation on ethics in advertising. My visual work took a back seat to my writing but picked back up later on (check out my Instagram for more on that). Freelance work has been in my rearview as I focused on other work.  Even though I thought about doing Nanowrimo,  I found my time economized by other needs and wants. The two screenplays I started on are definitely getting tackled over the break. As the quarter winds down, I finally assembled my committee for my thesis next quarter (Yay! I’m almost at the finish line). My thesis journey has become more of a reality.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Fighting the Box of Conformity and Doubt

Following the book while forging your own way can become a test of skill and determination. Being an aspiring screenwriter has given me the ability to try my hand at many genres and stories with abandon. Reworking, editing and revising has become second nature at this point in my process. This process has challenged me in ways I never thought I could be as a writer.

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As I’ve chronicled in previous posts, working on this screenplay has been a journey, to say the least. Creating a screenplay based on a foreign world to me – the music industry – has pushed me out of my comfort zone. My forte has always been animation aimed across different demographics. Writing this live-action film has been a challenge as I constantly remind myself to balance my usage of dialogue and action. The characterization and dialogue in the script have been a gift and a curse as I wanted to allow for creative license. I wanted to show a female-centric screenplay where every character – female and male – was multi-dimensional with their own experiences. Focusing on Black women’s plight in the music industry has made me question my reliability as a storyteller as I spoke of an experience I knew nothing about. But I was compelled by my research for my one-act play to expand this work and create something subtle yet realistic. I wanted to portray four Black women who were going through life with similar yet different circumstances from the average woman. I managed to take what I’ve absorbed from years of being an audiophile with my own twist. I wanted to follow the traits of the greats while trying to avoid the traps of many musical dramas and biopics. Breaking out of the box of film and television cliches has been hard as I delved further into my writing. Having dialogue and actions that speak to both the Black Millennial experience has been a major point for me in writing this screenplay. It has to speak to the present without being dated years from now. Hopefully, getting some more input from various sources will lead to a big breakthrough in my screenwriting process.

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After I worked on my screenplay, Independent Study was fruitful as I received some much-needed feedback from my professor. Helping the students with their portfolios and presentation was fulfilling as I felt a connection as an educator rather than just another student. Feedback has slowly begun to trickle back in from a few readers. My visual work took shape with better results than I had forecast (check out my Instagram for more on that). Freelance work was quite slow this week (just a sign that I need to grind harder). I received some news that might be game changers (stay tuned to this space). I’ve already planned on doing Nanowrimo but writing two screenplays rather than a novel. As independent study winds down, I’ve begun to gather my committee for my thesis next quarter. So far, my thesis journey has begun to fall in place.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Rewriting Your Screenplay

After all the revising and editing, something might be gnawing at your mind and spirit – does this screenplay work for my vision. This thought can pop into your head after reshaping and editing your screenplay. In today’s blog, I’ll on rewriting your spec script to match your true vision.

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Rewriting can be a daunting task when you try to rework what you’ve spent months even years working on your passion project. This allows you to escape the creative box you’ve painted yourself into. It’s important to have your work for whatever occasion arises.

During the revising and editing process of my screenplay, I found that the format and structure I used in my screenplay wasn’t working for me or my vision. I was trying to make a half-hour dramedy to an hour-long drama. It lacked the intensity and hilarity I originally envisioned for my first project. I needed to reclaim my original premise and characters I planned all those years ago.

Now, as I begin to think about my concept, reshaping my script is going to affect every aspect of my overall package. When the time is right I will be prepared.n-screenplay-628x314

 

The goal of rewriting your work is to help prepare you for the endgame – optioning your idea for film, television or the web. Just remember to keep your eyes on the prize.

In reading this post, I hope you will feel better about the rewriting process. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.

As I end my run with The Screenwriting Forum, it has been a pleasure writing this blog. The amount of information and advice I shared in this experience helped me to grow as much as it did my readers. I loved the community that has formed from this blog. And I hope to continue this positive and encouraging environment as I moved on to my new blog.

Come back within the next few days for my new venture.

Submitting Your Screenplay

After registering your screenplay, the next task is to submit your screenplay to different outlets.  In today’s blog, I’ll speak on how and where to submit your work.

Submissions are instrumental in getting your work acknowledged by the entertainment industry.  It’s important to let people outside of your family and friends see and read your screenplay.

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Remember to register with the WGA East, WGA West or international here to register your script. Don’t forget about your logline and treatment because most of contests and competitions will want them before seeing your script.

For any screenwriter worth their weight, entering your screenplay into various contests and competitions is a must. It signifies your script is ready to be seen by individuals in the industry. Getting veterans to see your script is key to making gains into the industry.

Here are some fellowships, contests, and competitions for you to consider:

Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

Big Break Screenwriting Contest

CAPE New Writers Fellowship

The CBS Writers Mentoring Program

Disney│ABC Writing Program

Film Independent Episodic Lab

Film Independent Project Involve

Film Independent Screen Writers Lab

FOX Writers Lab

Nickelodeon Writing Program

NBC Writers on the Verge

ScreenCraft’s Screenwriting Fellowship

Sundance Episodic Story Lab

Sundance Feature Film Program

Sundance YouTube New Voices Lab

Tribeca All Access

Universal Writers Program

Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop

With my own screenplays, I have submitted my work to various contests and competitions. It’s too early to tell what feedback I’ll get, but the fact that I submitted is a great start.

As I rewrite my spec script, I keep the idea of submitting to different outlets in the back of my mind. Now, my rewrite will be representative of my true vision as a creative. So submitting to contests and competitions will be more rewarding.

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The goal of submitting your work is to help prepare you for the endgame – optioning your idea for film, television or the web. Like last week, keep your eyes on the prize.

Hopefully, reading this post will submission process less anxiety-filled. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.

Come back next week for a surprise.

Registering Your Screenplay

After reshaping your story bible, the next task is to register your screenplay and all its assets. Registration is key in creating a viable property in your screenwriting future. In today’s blog, I’ll speak on how important registration is.

Registration is instrumental in solidifying your finished script as an intellectual property for your creative gain. This comes into play when submitting your screenplay to contests or optioning for a film/television deal. It’s important to have ownership of your work for whatever occasion arises.

With that said, let’s talk about how to register your screenplay.

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For any screenwriter worth their weight, the Writers Guild is the destination for copyright and trademark of your work. It signifies that you have an intellectual property worthy of being something one day. You have to have your own back as a creative when it comes to your script.

Here are the links to the WGA East and WGA West for my U.S. readers. For my international readers, here is another link to find what guild you can register with.

 

 

With my own screenplay, procrastination and perfectionism set me back awhile as I tried shaping and molding my work into what I wanted it to be. Registering my screenplay happens to be the biggest hurdle I had as a screenwriter, but eventually, my confidence in my writing leads to a certificate from the WGA.

As I rewrite my spec script, the thought of re-registering my script has come to mind. Now, my rewrite and reshaped story bible will be representative of my true vision. When the time is right I will be prepared.

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The goal of registering your work is to help prepare you for the endgame – optioning your idea for film, television or the web. Like last week, keep your eyes on the prize.

In reading this post, I hope you will have a better understanding of what ownership means to any screenwriter with a dream and some decent words. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.

Come back later this week as I speak on preparing your screenplay for submissions.

Packaging Your Screenplay Part 2 – Revising and Shaping Your Bible

Once the logline and treatment have been revamped, you can focus other aspects. Any screenwriter with a vision will want one for when their big moment finally arrives. But once the revising and editing process has slowed down, revisiting the bible is a must. In today’s blog, I’ll tackle a screenwriter’s best friend – the series/film bible.

If loglines and treatments are the mission statement and slogan for your vision, then the story bible is the handbook of your well-crafted vision. It’s the foundation of your screenwriting. Your bible sets the tone for your story will be for the next 90 minutes or 5 seasons.

For me, my story bible has shifted quite a bit since I first wrote my pilot. The same premise has remained in tack, but episode orders, plotlines and more have changed as my needs for the overall story have. Remember to always keep your premise even as your story shifts from time to time.

With that said, let’s explore how to repurpose your story bible.

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Retooling a story bible can be a daunting yet rewarding task as you want the bible to be in sync with your pilot. With that in mind, a series/film bible is described as:

a reference document used by screenwriters for information on a television series’/film’s characters, settings, and other elements that keep the content consistent throughout its course.

With loglines and treatments are short and concise, a story bible tends to vary in length depending on what stage in the process you’re at.

There are two schools of thought in television and film about story bibles. As mentioned by Screencraft, there are more traditionalists like screenwriting master Jacob Kruger who puts it as:

What they’re really asking is proof that you know what you’re doing, and that your series pilot not only has a fabulous premise and collection of castable characters we’d want to spend our time binge-watching, but also has the kind of engine required to run for at least five years.

He feels many producers and studios still have the mentality of world-building as king. He suggests the tried-and-true structure listed below:

  • A series logline (including all the elements from your original pitch).
  • Short character bios for each character detailing who he or she is along with their wants, and what they will do to get it.
  • A short overview paragraph describing the story arc of the first season.
  • Summaries of each first-season episode, including a title and a nutshell description for each episode by restating the characters’ wants and needs and the rising conflicts.
  • A short summary of seasons two through five (with short being the keyword; leave the producers and executives wanting more).

On the opposite end, there is producer/script editor Lucy V. Hay who feels the traditional method can be boring and long. Hay champions brevity as she states, “Knowing this helps you focus your vision and your pitch to the right network.” She suggests this four to five-page format:

  • A one-page pitch
  • One page of character profiles for all characters
  • Short synopses of all episodes following the pilot
  • A page or so detailing the format (who the returning characters are, intended channel, intended slot, and so on)

 

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Courtesy of Bang2Write

I have to admit I fall more into the traditionalist lane as I craft TV scripts with a series being the goal. I love the idea of world-building and giving background to every aspect of my script. While it is a challenge, I love having the vision to be fully planned out before someone sees my hard work.

The revising and editing process can make it hard to stare at your meticulously planned bible and say “I need to start over.” That moment can be a heartbreak for any writer especially your average screenwriter. It means you have to go back to the drawing board and go through the shaping and plotting all over again.  But it’s okay because you have shifted your vision, and your story bible needs to reflect that. You can still keep the bones while you lay on the flesh.

I’m going through the process as I write this blog. After rethinking my spec script, I figured out some of my issues are related to the bible I create. Now, I am reconstructing what my episodes and modifying my series trajectory.

When redoing your bible, you have to keep your screenplay in mind. It has to reflect what the themes, characters, plot, settings, and etc. are now rather than the previous revision(s). As I have gone through the revising process, I have found myself looking back at the story bible every time to see if it still captures the premise of my script. Now as I make some changes to it, I have to let the past go as I reshape my vision to its true form.

 

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The goal with this writing staples is to help shape and mold your vision to what your endgame is going to be – optioning your idea for film, television or the web. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Hopefully, reading this post will relieve your anxiety about tackling your series/film bible. But this isn’t the end of the conversation, you can leave comments below and discuss this even more with your fellow screenwriters along with myself.

Come back next week for registering your screenplay and preparing it for submission.

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