Month: April 2014

What I’m Learning As I Go

After not having written any pages in the previous three days, I have had a nice little burst recently.  I banged out four pages and upgraded my outline.  My first script I wrote ten years ago I remember only listing my scene titles.  My second script two years ago came about after having read Michael Hauge’s book “Writing Screenplays that Sell” and Syd Field’s “Screenplay.” Both of these books were instrumental towards my first endeavor into trying to understand structure.  I utilized the notecard technique when outlining the second script.  At the time it did help me see my scenes and organize them properly to insure the story was moving forward.

Here I am now, twenty pages into screenplay number three and am still tweaking my outline.  Christopher Vogler’s work with his book, “The Hero’s Journey,” has always spoken to me.  So my outline this time around follows the Hero’s path.  While this has provided me initial direction, I have learned through other struggles to never become content or complacent, but rather to always be looking for or at least aware of a better way.

As of recent, when I’m feeling stuck or unmotivated, I turn to the blogs.  Balls of Steel by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman at Scriptmag.com has been my go-to source of inspiration and guidance.  It was this post of her’s that led me to a post made by another scriptmag.com blogger, Brad Johnson.  His Spec in the City post about sequencing was exactly what I needed at the moment that I needed it.  This five part post on sequencing and how to keep the story moving and the audience interested was a gold mine of information! Bouncing between the posts, my outline, and my script, I’ve written four pages in the last 24 hours!

Writers write.  I honestly believe this now.  Everyone in this community has a blog and there is something to learn from every post made. As I continue to dream and write I am learning a tremendous amount about the craft, about myself as a writer, and how to continue to keep improving everyday.  I sometimes get nervous that I won’t make it as a screenwriter because I wasn’t a film student, I didn’t study writing, heck I wasn’t even an English major! But I know I can write. I have written my fair share of academic research  papers.  Even these need to tell a good story. There is so much information readily available by those that have experienced both success and failures at screenwriting that feel as though I’m going to film school every time I read a screenwriter’s blog.  Have a question for the professor? Follow them on twitter, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.  Go to their website and find their email address and write to them. I have yet to find a screenwriter or reader who, when given respect and courtesy, isn’t willing to answer a couple of questions regarding their work and their craft.  If only Will Hunting had Twitter and a blog back in the 90’s he could have saved himself that $1.50 in late fees at the public library! Every time a fellow screenwriter answers a question or shares an insightful post my anxieties of not having a writing background begin to fade. I only hope that someday I am able to pay it forward all the same.

As I mentioned in my initial post, I am writing this blog to be held accountable for my efforts and progress towards my goals.  After a dry week of writing I am pleased with the progress I’ve made the past couple of days.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts. If it’s been too long between posts please give me that virtual kick in the rear to get me going. Accountability. Leave me a message here or follow me on twitter @mcorcoran15.  I would love to hear from the experts as well as those who are on a similar journey of their own.

The Why Before The Who

Before I introduce myself, I feel it is more important to explain why I have chosen to start a blog.  The uses for Facebook continue to grow everyday.  Having an interest in fitness and healthy eating, I have recently come across a plethora of pages devoted to individuals on their weight loss journeys.  Men and women alike can share in celebrating weight loss victories in addition to finding support from one another when they slip up and miss a workout or splurge on a craving.  These Facebook pages go beyond just being a community of supporters.  The main goal of such pages is accountability.  People document their progress with pictures of themselves before, during, and after their weight loss.  They document and share their workouts, their meals, their fears, hopes and dreams.  Again, accountability.

I have a dream of becoming a screenwriter.  I want to be held accountable for working hard every day to take at least one step, to do one thing towards achieving this goal.  Just as those trying to lose weight to look better or to feel better or simply to live a healthier lifestyle, they need that push, that constant reminder.  They put themselves out there as a means to staying dedicated and committed to reaching their goal. So this is me, putting myself out there. I invite you dear reader to share in my journey as I document my trials and tribulations.  I am inspired by all of the blogs and resources out there regarding screenwriting and making movies.  Many of these blogs are written by individuals who are young, aspiring, either studying filmmaking or screenwriting or living in Los Angeles working on movie sets or for production companies and agencies.  I am none of these.

I became a mathematician in 2000, earning a Bachelor’s degree in math and a certificate in secondary education.  Sounds pretty cool, huh?  The not-so-sexy description of what I do is teach high school math.  I wrote my first screenplay ten years ago.  After that my focus shifted as my wife and I were starting a family.  Four kids and a master’s degree in education later I went back to writing and wrote a second screenplay.  A teacher’s strike, change of schools, and second master’s degree in education once again put my screenwriting on hold.  For a long time I believed teaching was my calling.  I still believe that.  However,veryday that goes by, society continues to take a little more of the fun out of it for me.  But that’s a post for another day.

I didn’t simply watch a movie and say to myself, “I can do that.” I did not wake up one day and say, “I’m going to write a movie.”  I’ve loved movies my whole life.  I was raised on Star Wars, Schwarzenegger, John Hughes and Goonies.  These were the inspiration for the characters I created to be my friends as a child.  My love for movies really peaked after high school graduation in 1997 seeing Titanic, As Good As It Gets, and my favorite, Good Will Hunting.

Telling stories has become instrumental in my success at being a teacher and engaging my students.  My dad could really spin quite a tale about a reckless and rebellious youth as a teen in 1960’s Evanston.  The more I share his stories with others, the more fantastical they become to me.  So this is what I want to do. I want to tell stories.  Good ones. And I want you good reader, to hold me accountable.

Come back every once in a while and check in on me.  Share in my victories and lift me up after my defeats.  I promise I will work hard, I will write everyday. I will be relentless in my pursuit of this dream.  And I won’t let you down.

Thanks and have a great day!

Michael