28 December 2011

What's it About?

I've got this story . . . it's a pretty cool story. I really like it anyway. A few months ago I spewed forth a crappy rough draft (is there any other kind?) and sat it in the brewing spot, in the hopes that it would percolate and eventually work all of its kinks out.

Yeah, yeah, I know. That never actually happens. But I'm a hopeless optimist (well, sometimes) and live with the expectation that things will work out.

It wasn't going so well. And I got Save the Cat by Blake Snyder for Christmas, so I pulled it out yesterday and started to read.

I found it interesting that the first thing he suggests you do is craft a Logline. Or, in non screen writer terms, an elevator pitch. Your story all wrapped up in a single sentence.

After a few days off work, I was feeling pretty good, and therefore open to some guy telling me how he thought I should write my story, so I kept reading. And as I read I kept thinking. Mostly about my story, and what the logline would be.

It shouldn't be that hard, right? I've put 90,000+ words into this story—how difficult should it be to pull thirty or forty out for an elevator pitch?

Well, let's just say that this part of writing isn't my strong suit. And may I also say that I'm glad I was in the listening mood yesterday.

There are lots of tricks, components and requirements that go into this mysterious and elusive logline.

-A brief set up if needed
-What is your story about?
-Who is your story about?
-What is he/she striving for?
-What stands in their way?

A suggested order is this:
1) Set up
2) Protagonist
3) Goal
4) Antagonistic force

When you mention the protagonist you should toss one or two adjectives in there that give a solid representation of him/her.

The set up need only be used if the world of the story is not our world.

The logline needs to show that the protagonist is going to actively pursue the goal.

And, this may have been my favorite, a logline should give the person reading it a visual image of how this story could play out. A mini-movie in your mind of what could happen. And it should be awesome.

Blake Snyder says (in my words—too lazy to quote) that if you can't do this for your story, then you don't have a story. You should start with this, then you will have a story.

At first I didn't agree, but then I tried it. I experimented on my aforementioned crappy rough draft and found that I didn't have a clear direction for my character vs her main problem.

Sure, there is plenty of conflict, action, romance (as much as needed there) and intrigue, but after I took a long hard look at the story I see that it is indeed lacking in the area of depth in the main character. And it's a great conflict! I just kind of ignored it and went for more of the movie/action bits.

Now that I've written a couple of loglines for it, I think I might be able to get to it and fix it up. Yay!

But before that, I need to finish the last three chapters of my Super Secret Agent story. :)

If you want to check out some examples see the Great Logline Contest

22 December 2011

A Litte Fun Goes a Long Way

The past six weeks at work have been horrible. I won't go into it, but trust me. Two people got into a yelling match over two pieces of mica and a rivet gun. That's like getting worked up over making two copies of a pattern and sending them to a friend with some scissors. Not a big deal—this week it means the world might end.

So a couple of girls I work with and I got tired of being cranky all the time.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes I thrive and thrill in the realm of cranky. Revel in the angst of it all, like a teenager with nothing better to do than brood.

But I get bored pretty fast and move onto something productive. Usually. The past few weeks have been hard. So these girls and I decided to do something to make us feel better. The fact that everyone else seemed to love it is just a bonus.

First off there's something about an ugly sweater that makes people grimace and smile at that same time. Couple that with all of the lovely decoration schemes that come with Christmas time, and you've got an instant hit.

Yes, we had an ugly sweater party. We sent out an invitation, told people to wear the worst sweater they could find, bring a treat and have some fun.

We got some really horrible sweaters. We had more sugar and chips and salsa than any one group of people should consume in an entire month. (I may have had a few too many chocolate cookies, pieces of peanut brittle and fudge. Lots of fudge.) People walked around pointing and laughing at others—and no one got their feelers hurt. One woman put ornaments all over her sweater and bellowed inappropriate things about her balls for about five minutes too long. The fire department came to check on something or other (quarterly visit or something) and they were laughing hard.

Laughing. Smiling. People talking to one another in respectful, happy tones . . . and I won't even go into the look on people's faces when we handed out cute, little boxes of candy.

Seriously. We felt better. Everyone felt better.

That's Christmas. Even more than that, it should be life. Being angry takes so much effort! Unfortunately, like a bad habit, the effort becomes infinitely easier the more you put energy into it.

So if you're having a bad day, go do something for someone. It'll make at least one of you smile!

15 December 2011

The Why

The past four weeks at work have been long and hard. The Christmas season has hardly begun in my mind because I've spent eleven to twelve hours a day at my day job. It leaves precious little time for anything else when I've got Kempo and writing groups going on. Not to mention the seasonal choir and orchestra concerts as well as all of the other great things that come along in December.

But that's not my point.

My point is that the project I had on my desk at work today was supposed to be the last difficult thing for me to finish up before the end of the year. The last “sorry it's late into your department, but please rush it out as soon as you can get it finished . . . and we needed it yesterday.”

Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure. Okay. I'm on it.

After four weeks of this, I guess my little heart was pretty set on this being the last one. No more. Easy, catch up stuff for the next week and a half. Yay!

I didn't realize how much it meant to me until the shop manager slapped another project on my desk just before I finished up the “last” one.

Well, let me point out that this newer project is actually an old one that got messed up out in the shop at the time it was built. The powers that be have spent weeks trying to fix the initial problem, which was caused by someone who didn't understand that grinding metal out of small crevasses is not effective.

So not only is it yet another difficult project for me to complete (six to eight hours, which is a long time when they need it five minutes ago) but I've done it once already!!! I absolutely abhor doing things twice. It just about kills me when it's my fault, but when someone else messes it up I have to breathe and count to ten. And when the powers that messed it up in the first place decide they want to change the whole thing, pretty much negating the eight hours I already put into it, I get downright grumpy.

And today grumpy doesn't even come close to describing my mood.

As I sat at my desk, finishing up the now next to last project, and fuming (there might have been smoke) my mind snapped.

No, not that snap. The snap that told me that I'd give just about anything to be at home writing. My current project is, if nothing else, amusing. It makes me laugh, and I love it. I love writing. It makes me happy in a way that drawing lights never can.

Yes, when I'm well into the third draft of a novel I might have a pity party or two, but the drive is there to fix it. My drive to draw lights isn't nearly as intense as it used to be. I won't call it nonexistent, because I do enjoy figuring out how things are going to work, but the level has diminished. More than I can say. And my desire to write has skyrocketed. Even though the last year has been a pretty steep learning curve, and even though my query attempts have been (thus far) in vain, it doesn't matter. I like it. I love writing. I just hope that someday it will pay off in more than just the making me feel better way.

10 December 2011

Worth it?

This morning as I went to work, I saw the moon. Yes, it's Saturday morning. Yes, I was at work at 7am. Yes, my life sucks.

Anyway . . . I was driving and saw the moon. Only, there wasn't much of it to see. I glared at it. Last night, or maybe the night before, it had been full. I was sure of it. In my sleep deprived, over worked, angry and more ditsy than usual state I thought maybe the moon had been full last week. Maybe.

The funny thing was that the top 7/8 of the moon looked like it was hidden behind clouds. I could still see it, sort of, but it was . . . Oh great, apocalypse time. Just wonderful. I don't have nearly enough batteries for this right now.

Then I remembered. Last night a friend told me that there was a Lunar Eclipse this morning. That would be why the moon has been full and then suddenly wasn't. (I'm not as crazy as I thought I was/am!)

As I drove to work the eclipse got closer and closer to being full. That little sliver of light reflecting off the bottom of the moon got smaller and smaller until when I got to work there was only the slightest thread left.

Very cool. I saw another lunar eclipse years ago, but it was only a partial. This thing was full on covered in shadow. I wish I had a camera that could do it justice.

This guy got a great picture from Arches. That's what I saw, only minus the scenery.

And in my head I almost agreed that getting up early on a Saturday was worth it. Going into work . . . not so much. I have so much Christmas shopping left to do.

05 December 2011

Oh the Conspiracies

We've lived in this apartment for 2 ½ years. For our third time here, I decided to toss some Christmas lights on the exterior. There is a long stairway leading up to our landing, and we found the cutest rope light (stripped like a candy cane) to wrap around it. Yay!

The rope was purchased on a Monday. That entire week I left for work at 6am and didn't get back until well after 5pm. Dark in the morning, dark in the evening . . . no time to put lights up. Boo.

Finally, after the hurricane drama and cleanup Saturday morning, I got to wrap the rope light around our railing. Yay!

It's cute. Super cute.

I managed to get the whole thing done with one strand. Almost. I ended up 2 feet short from the plug to the socket. Boo.

Really? Of course I expected this. So the next trip to the store included an outdoor extension cord. Yay!

Next day, after picking shingles up off the ground for two hours, I get out the extension cord, plug the rope light into the cord, go to insert it into the socket thing that I bought . . . only to find that the dumb extension cord has a ground wire (3 prongs) instead of the 2 that the socket plug has. Boo.

What?!? Grrr . . . This is not acceptable.

So tonight, at the store, I buy an extra set of 50 mini lights that we can toss on the porch and will easily reach from the end of the railing to the plug. Two prongs—check. Yay!

Oh yes, two prongs alright. Two prongs that are the SAME SIZE!!!!


The rope lights have a big side and a small side. Boo.

Seriously, what kind of sick conspiracies lie (lay?) in the depths of Christmas Decoration Company Headquarters???

If I ever meet any of them on the street, I will kick them in the shins and smack them in the back of the head. Then I will find a rodeo star to lasso them with my rope light and hog tie them—leaving them on the street to suffer the ridicule of little children and dogs. Yay!

So now the solution is to take what I have off, attach the other one to it and light the railing on fire with all of the illumination that will now come out of it. At least the abducting aliens will be able to find their way up the stairs and onto our landing.

03 December 2011

It Comes out of Nowhere

This past week we had a very random, very powerful storm blow through.

I've been pulling 11-12 hour work days for three weeks, and I haven't paid much attention to the news, so when I woke up at 3am Thursday morning to the sound of shingles (although I had no idea that's what it was at the time) literally slamming into the side of our apartment I had no idea what was going on. The wind blew so loud and so strong that I had to put earplugs in so I could go back to sleep.

The next morning I got up and was at work before 6am. Shingles littered our parking lot, stairs, grass and road nearby. My car got hit by a couple of flying branches, and at one point a whirlwind of leafs outdistanced me as I drove down the road at 40mph.

By the time I got to work, 15 minutes south, only a whisper of a breeze remained. More focused on work than anything else, I didn't even think about the wind again until my roommate called at lunch and said our power was out.

Really? Huh, okay.

Apparently, about 8am things really got rocking. There are literally hundreds of huge, old pine trees that now lie dead, ripped out of the ground by hurricane force winds (some clocked at over 100mph). My sister lost one, along with part of her fence. A friend of mine had a tree trap her inside her house. A kid I know had a branch impale itself through his truck door. I saw one little house that had its roof ripped off. The stories go on and on. I should have taken pictures of the trees at the cemetery. News casters were there all day yesterday because it's such an impressive sight.

Usually it's snow or bitter cold. Once every twenty years it's rain. But wind? Wind big enough to pick up RV's and crumple them into balls of shredded metal and tip semi trucks over? Insane. Totally insane. Glad I don't live in hurricane country. I did tornado alley for a while—didn't like that much either.

A good reminder of how ill prepared (or the opposite) we all are.

My parents (who didn't have power for about 30 hours) tossed some wood in the fire place and probably had baked beans out of a can. I'm sure my dad loved it. We could have stayed in our apartment—freezing our back sides off through the night—but went to our families houses instead. Me to a sister's so I could shower in the morning.

We've got food and some water. With enough blankets we would have been just fine, if not a little chilly. We also had candles, matches and a few flashlights. Although all of the good camping equipment is down in the garage. You know the one not attached to our house and with no way to open it without power? I'll be remedying that little fo-pa this weekend.

But it all made me think. If something really serious happened, what would I do? I'm still thinking about it. And next year I plan to do something about it.