‘Save the cat’ Beat sheet for Die Hard.

July 31, 2011

Yet another movie I just watched because it’s homework for my Storywonk revision class.

Opening image: John’s plane lands in LA, with John gripping both the armrests, and the guy in the next seat tells him to take off his shoes and socks when he gets somewhere with a rug and make fists with his toes.

Theme stated: Again, I’m having a hard time with this – when John talks about how he didn’t come out to LA with Holly because he’s a New York Cop?

Setup: John’s trip in the limo with Argyle, arriving at the party, everything up to the bad guys showing up at the party.

Catalyst: The bad guys crash the party.

Debate: John stays out of sight as long as he can, he tries to call the LA police, he uses every trick he can think of to alert the authorities instead of being a hero himself.

Break into two: When the first bad guy comes after him, John fights back, not trying to kill him – but when the guy ends up dead he takes his gun and sends his body back down the elevator as a warning.

B story: I think this is actually the friendship that develops over the CB radio between John and Al.

Fun and games: Oh, just what in this movie isn’t fun and games? Well, any scene where nobody’s being shot at, nothing’s crashing, and nothing’s exploding I guess.

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Best wishes for Chris Baty

July 28, 2011

I’ve always vaguely wondered what it was like to have truly exciting news that I couldn’t speak about because of a ‘gag order.’ Now I think I know, though it wasn’t really an earth-shattering experience.

As you might or might not know by now, Chris Baty, that crazy man who somehow turned National Novel Writing Month from a group of friends doing a dare into a worldwide force for creative derring-do, has announced that he is following in the footsteps of other departed Office of Letters and Light staff, and resigning his position in order to go down the path of writing full-time.

Here’s where the ‘gag order’ bit comes in. Chris B actually shared the news with all of the Nanowrimo and Script Frenzy local representatives two weeks ago, and asked us to keep it under wraps until he’d sent out the news to all participants, which happened last night.

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Fanfic flashback: Please Stand Up

July 27, 2011

I’ve been thinking about this story quite a bit yesterday. Partly just because I really like it anyway, it’s a fun little adventure, and writing it was possibly my most amazing Nanowrimo experience ever – I chose this project for National Novel Writing Month 2006, and by November the 30th, I had finished it, at a little over 100,000 words – yes, that’s right, it was a double-length Nano. The words just seemed to be flowing out of whatever I was typing on that month, my friends.

It also has a great little fight scene at the end, but mostly what I want to talk about today was the road trip structure. I wanted to do something a little bit more organized than my usual pantsing when I decided to do this story in Nanowrimo, and the idea of the road trip seemed to fit a lot of the other stuff I knew would be going on.

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The Sharp Organizer

July 26, 2011

My sharp EL-6790 is a gadget that I haven’t used in years, and don’t even remember seeing in a while, which is why I’m not including a photograph. But for a long time it was one of my very dearest writing tools, and I’m a bit disappointed that I haven’t found a perfect replacement for it yet, though between netbooks, the alphasmart, and other PDAs, I don’t feel the loss that keenly.

I got the Sharp in the fall of 2000 with some birthday money from my Granny, at a Grand & Toy office supplies franchise in a mall. I guess I had in mind that I wanted to use something like this as a portable writing keyboard, and even though it really wasn’t designed for that, I managed to find my own way of making that work.

It was a little bigger than a standard scientific calculator, but held horizontally instead of vertically, with a full qwerty keyboard and a little screen that could hold four rows of fourteen letters, as well as a few status indicators above and below. In ‘memo’ mode, which was what I mostly used, you could type in up to 512 characters before having to move onto the next memo, and there was no word wrap. (It probably wouldn’t have worked too well on that narrow screen anyway.) Read the rest of this entry »


Revision on the brain.

July 25, 2011

So, I had my first live Revision class for Storywonk yesterday – it was the second class in the course, but I joined late because of the Polaris craziness and caught up on that class with the on-demand replay, which isn’t as fun as being in chat live and getting to answer questions.

But I’ve got all kinds of things running through my head with all the stuff that Lucy’s covered in class so far, and other things that I’m just thinking of because of tangents. I think I’ve got a good idea for the opening scene, but it’s going to be a big rewrite – partly because, as Lucy points out, the opening scene has a lot that it needs to do.

But I’m also starting to think about ‘the trouble’ from the bad guy’s point of view. My antagonist is really resourceful and clever, and when he decides to take a Princess prisoner, he’s not going to do it by sending armed soldiers into the festival. I think I’ve managed to come up with a much more clever scheme that does him justice, involving poisoning and food vans. Now I just need to figure out how to tell it from the POV of my protagonist, and let her stand up for herself just a little but still end up in the really hot water.

I’ve also got a new beat breakdown up on my corkboard – this one is for my current draft of ‘The Long Way Home’:

Each card is a scene, with the sequence of scenes in the book going ‘Summer Glau style‘ back and forth from the top left down to the bottom left. Some types of scenes are color coded:

  • Yellow – ‘anchor scene’ candidates, as per Lucy’s structure
  • Pink – key scenes for Ereyu the ferret
  • Green – scenes involving my antagonist, Merlik, or where his influence is felt.
  • Blue – flashbacks.

So, I guess I’ll leave it at that for now, except to ask – if you’re not doing revision, then what have you been up to for July?


Blake Snyder Beat Sheet for Dodgeball

July 23, 2011

“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

I was assigned watching this movie as homework for the Storywonk novel revision workshop, and we’re probably going to be talking about the plot in terms of Lucy’s own structure diagram tomorrow, but I thought that I’d do a Blake Snyder outline for it. It’s really very well written.

Opening image – Peter asleep, the dog nuzzling at his crotch, while the Globo-Gym ad plays on the TV.

Theme stated – I think that it’s stated in the negative, in the Globo-gym ad: “We’re better than you, and we know it!”

Setup – Peter goes to work at Average Joe’s, and we meet all the regulars and hear a bit of their story as Peter talks with them.

Catalyst – Kate is waiting for Peter in his office, and tells him that the gym is in foreclosure. which sends him over to Globo-gym to talk to White and find out that White is looking forward to putting up a new parking garage.

Debate – Can the Average Joes find a way to save their gym? With a car wash? Of course not! But there’s this ad about the dodgeball tournament in Vegas…

Break into two – In the qualifiers with the girl scouts, when Peter actually starts to play it hard. They don’t actually win, but they qualify anyway.

B story – the complex plotline involving Peter, Kate, and White.

Fun and games – The training sequence with Patches, and the first few tournament games.

Midpoint – I’m not sure, but I think the scene where Kate signs on with the Average Joe’s team is a midpoint beat. Nothing is going to be the same from there on, better or worse.

Bad guys close in – The Globo-gym team has made it to the finals before Average Joe’s.

All is lost – Patches dies, crushed by an ironic ‘Luck of the Irish’ sign, and Peter loses his confidence and lets White get to him. White offers to buy Peter out for 100 grand, and we don’t know what he decided. But Peter tells the team that they’re probably going to lose and that they should be ready for it. He even tells Steve that he’s not a pirate.

Dark night of the soul – The team is one player short. Peter ends up in a casino bar. And Lance Armstrong shows up, just to rub it in a little about being a quitter.

Break into three – Peter gets there just as the Joes have officially forfeited, but Gordon finds the appeals rule, and Chuck Norris casts the deciding vote to let them play in the finals!

Finale – Sudden death with blindfolds! Not only that, but Peter took White’s 100 grand, used it to bet on the Joes, and has 5 million to buy out a controlling share of Globo-gym! And Steve is a Pirate again.

Final image – White watching Peter’s big ad for Average Joe’s gym – ‘You’re great just the way you are.’


Searchers in the Files

July 22, 2011

Okay, following a meme from Elizabeth Twist and LG Smith, I’ll share some of the most popular and strange search terms I’ve found on my blog statistics. I hope that you find them interesting. We’ll start with the popular ones.

  1. ‘short dialog’ is easily the most popular search term for my blog ever, and I’m not quite sure why so many people are searching for short dialog instead of long dialog. But they end up here: A short dialog exercise.
  2. ‘extra post’. Again, I find this a bit puzzling. Are these people trying to figure out how to squeeze an extra post into their own blogs, or looking for extra posts that have been added to other blogs? But I do love A-Z extra post by request: The Umbrella rant, and I hope that the searchers like it too.
  3. ‘elizabeth twist’. This might be for people who are searching for Elizabeth’s own blog, but on wordpress.com instead of her home at blogspot. At least I include a link to her, as well as sing her praises, here: E is for Elizabeth Twist
  4. ‘small wallpapers’. I hope that they enjoy all the fandom-y goodness here: Fanart 10: Lots of small wallpapers.
  5. ‘summer glau’. Any Summer Glau fans will hopefully love the story of my meeting her: Fan Expo Diary – Part Two
  6. ‘serenity analysis’. Beat sheet for the win! Beat sheet analysis for ‘Serenity’ (spoiler warning.)
  7. ‘iphone riddle’. The answer is… An iPhone riddle…
  8. ‘diane duane’. There’s a lot that this could lead to, but maybe they’ll start with A Wizard of Mars – Chapter One
  9. ‘save the cat chapter 2’. Hopefully, this will help explain it without giving away too many of Blake Snyder’s secrets: Blog the Cat, Chapter 2 – Story Genres
  10. ‘alphasmart dana’. I’ve talked about my Dana in several places, but dedicated this post to it: Dana by Alphasmart
  11. ‘tess harding’. An interesting search term, but it could lead to my tribute to R is for Roswell or Fanfiction flashback: Not Written Yet
  12. ‘firefly fan art’. Well, I shared some here: Fanart 9: Two Firefly Banners

And, for the stranger search terms:

  • “that’s what i did and you came back to me”
  • buffy/lindsey fanfiction
  • davis smallville chloe nanowrimo
  • faith hill & roswell
  • games on alphasmart dana
  • glau fan expo brown guy
  • how busy is the go transit bus from hamilton on saturday nights?
  • mike kelworth
  • roswell liz swaps with tess
  • screenwriting on the dana alphasmart
  • stringing in writing
  • the louvre sweater
  • viable paradise waiting list
  • where i made my passport im in herkimer
  • yahoo game where you put characters in which room
  • you can’t go home again billy joel

If you’ve got a blog that lets you see search terms that led readers to you, share your favorites and comment here to let me go look!


Polaris versus Tim Hortons

July 20, 2011

Just one more short Polaris story, that I didn’t mention earlier.

The Adam Baldwin Q&A session on Saturday afternoon started late, because Adam still had people who’d waited in line for his autograph, and somebody decided not to disappoint them. So, to ‘stretch’ the time for those of us waiting in the Q&A room, the MC, Larry, told us a little story.

The convention was held in a complex with a convention center, a little enclosed mall, and two hotels. Right next door was a sort of strip mall and one of the biggest businesses there was a Tim Horton’s chain coffee and donuts shop. As you might imagine, it was pretty popular with the convention-goers. We Canadians love our Tim’s.

But the air conditioning in this particular Tim’s location was broken, and apparently the head office hadn’t done anything about it in over a week – because no customers had complained to them. Larry was quite upset about this, mostly on behalf of the employees there, and I rather saw his point. Customers aren’t terribly inconvenienced by the heat in the little time it takes them to line up and get their order, but it’s much harder on somebody working an eight-hour shift in a kitchen without air conditioning during a hot spell.

So, Larry not only got the number for head office and the details on what store number was having the problem – he shared them with all of us and invited us to complain as often as we liked, to entertain ourselves by using funny voices and impersonating our favorite TV stars, and so on.

I was intrigued by the idea, but didn’t actually get around to calling. The next day, before Jewel Staite’s Q&A, there was an update – a vice-president of something-or-other from Tim’s head office had been to the store on Sunday morning and was doing what she could to make sure that the AC would get fixed as soon as possible.

Even if I didn’t place a call, I’m pleased that I got to hear about that story. So that’s why I’m passing it on to you.


Prove the Zombies wrong! Social platforms can build readership.

July 19, 2011

I got this missive in my inbox yesterday:

Subject: My Zombies Challenge You to Prove Them Wrong About Social Media

I have a previously workshopped story up on Tales of the Zombie War.  Now, one thing I’m a bit of a zombie about is the alleged power of social media.  I’m just not convinced that it does all that much to increase readership or sales.  But it strikes me that this might be an opportunity for those of you who have drank the social media cool-aid to prove me wrong.  Tales of the Zombie War is one of those places where readers can leave comments.  Typically, a story on this site averages 25 comments.  So throw your followers at me, urge them to check out my story and leave comment.  If the power of your social network raises the comment count to 40 or greater, I will have to admit I am Luddite and will wear a t-shirt so saying to the next Campbell Conference.  Here’s the link:  http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2011/07/11/running-on-ahead-by-chuck-von-nordheim/

Now, Chuck is a really great writer, the winner of the best revised story at the short fiction workshop that I just got back from in Kansas, and you really should check out his story, because you’ll probably like it a lot.

But also – for reasons of my own, I really would love to prove Chuck wrong about this and make him wear that t-shirt.

So please, for my sake, go to the link and post a comment whether you enjoyed reading the story or not! Thanks very much.

Update – well, as of the afternoon of July 28th, we’re at 26 posts and rising. There’s still plenty of time to reach 40, unless interest dies off entirely. If you want to take part in the battle between social media and zombies, please link on your blog, facebook, or twitter – either to me, or directly to Chuck’s story on the talesofworldwarz site. Together, we can do it!


Final Polaris round-up.

July 18, 2011

Okay, my sleep schedule’s a little wonky at the moment, work stuff kept me up last night, but I’ll share some of my favorite moments from Sunday at Polaris 25, after I signed off from yesterday.

The writing workshop with Julie Czerneda was really cool – it was oriented for beginners, but I learned some cool stuff – working in groups to come up with science-based ideas, develop them, and then start to add in protagonists, settings, emotional reactions for the reader, and figure out how to explain the science to the reader. I also thought it was interesting that she didn’t see much value in writers critiquing other writers.

The meeting with the other writers from Ad Astra was nice – hi guys, if any of you are dropping by to catch up on my blog!

And then, there was the Jewel Staite stuff – she had a fun Q&A, didn’t want anybody recording video or sound so that she could ‘trash talk’ without fear of it coming out to haunt her. I actually asked four questions:

  • What were you thinking of when filming the strawberry scene? (She said that she had cheeseburgers on the brain when Joss told her to imagine it was the tastiest thing ever – and that he really loved the very first take she did.)
  • What was your favorite outfit of Kaylee’s? ‘Not the birthday cake dress!’
  • Favorite episode of firefly? ‘I really loved filming The Message, even though we’d found out we were cancelled by then, because we decided to have a great time and make as much fun for ourselves as we could.’
  • If Firefly came back, what would you like to have happen next in Kaylee’s life? ‘I’d love to see her and Simon have a baby together, I think Kaylee would be a really great mom.’

And I got a picture signed, and also had her sign the ‘Those Left Behind’ comic book, which is starting to accumulate nearly as many Big Damn Signatures as the Firefly Blueprints Book.

After going through the signature room again, in only 20 minutes or so, I hit a few panels, covering Starship captains and Smallville season ten, (which I haven’t finished watching, and got spoiled on a few details, but what the heck?) Then it was time for the Geek-off Championships, where I scored a single point, which meant I was in a four-way tie for fourth place or something like that.

Then my brother had arrived to drive me home, and I drove half-way myself, along Lakeshore road from Oakville through Burlington, and then across the Burlington lift bridge.


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