Thursday, December 29, 2011

Planning scenes - finally done

I have finally reached the last scene in my scene planning (with SuperNotecard).

There are two problems left. One is the environment where the story is set. I have not yet successfully erased the middle aged castle from my mind. I need to have a clear image of where the story is set, or I will have her climbing stone walls like Disney's Robin Hood.

The other problem is one of the characters. She is an important supporting character, but tend to pop up a little too convenient when needed and it does not feel natural. Another thing with her is her attitude making her very sarcastic about life, and I'm a bit scared about writing her dialog - a bitter jester making fun of everything.

But here I am. Basically ready to start writing my script. If I only dare to start.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some wise words

"Every day you should try to do something creative. Improve  your  destiny.  Take  your  health,  or your  moral  life,  or spiritual  life—one  thing  at  a time—and  change  it  as you desire. If you can  control the  mind,  the  whole  world will  gravitate  toward you.  Do not be a helpless failure. Control your destiny by changing your thought.  Do whatever you make up your mind to do.  To concentrate the mind in this way doesn’t cost you a thing.  Inwardly  determine  to  change  yourself,  and you  can  change  your destiny according to your will."

The Divine Romance by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, 2000

Read more of these wisdoms together with some great photos at Nice Art Life. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Story - a republished favorite

Once upon a time there was a big, big company producing soft drinks. They were so big that their name was known in every country of the world.

In a small, small country they had hired a local brewing company to make and sell their products. The people in the small, small country were a strange folk however; they didn’t drink the big, big company’s soft drinks for Christmas, but something called “julmust”*.

The big, big company told the local brewing company in the small, small country that they had to stop making “julmust” since it competed with the big, big company’s products.

The local brewing company in the small, small country refused. They had the best “julmust” in the country and was not about to give it up.

The big, big company got angry and withdraw their license and established themselves in the small, small country.

When Christmas came closer they sent commercial on the TV-channels and put up posters on the bus stops telling the people in the small, small country that the big, big company’s major soft drink with its red and white label was perfect for Christmas.

The impact of the commercial was prominent.

The big, big company's selling of soft drinks dropped immediately.

And the local brewing company in the small, small country sold more bottles of “julmust” than ever before.

The next Christmas the stubborn people in the small, small country found a new label of “julmust” in the stores with all the required features and a genuine look 'n' feel.

With small, small letters the name of the big, big company could be read: “the Coca-Cola Company”.

First published 10th of December 2009

* From Wikipedia: “Julmust” is made of carbonated water, sugar, hop extract, malt extract, spices, caramel colouring, citric acid, and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat beer-like taste, but much sweeter and, since it is not fermented, it contains no alcohol. 45 million litres of “julmust” are consumed during December (to be compared with roughly 9 million Swedes), which is around 50% of the total soft drink volume in December and 75% of the total yearly must sales. Read more here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The enviroment for a Fantasy story

One of my long time friends and critiques read my outline for The Power of Bitterness and asked what kind of environment it was set in. I had always thought the classic fairytale world with the common middle-age look.

His question got me thinking. Didn't that world - that middle-age, fairytale world - made it all a little too boring? If I have a chance to be God and create a world, why copy-paste from everybody else? Sure, I see a stone castle, but honestly, I see a stone castle because it is a classic imprint, not because it needs to be a stone castle.

Why not something more Viking-looking? Build something on my own folklore and history.

And the story has its roots in the powers of Nature. Shouldn't the environment the story is set in reflect on these roots?

Yes, it will take a little longer before I start writing, but I really got something fascinating started here. I need to get it all in place first.

Gee, this script is going to be so great. If I ever get started that is.

Photo by Sven Rosborn
Image edited by the writer

Friday, December 16, 2011

Change is part of life

Some people can’t stand change.

It is unfortunate, because change is part of life.

Of course you feel most comfortable in a world that you know and feel safe in. Everybody who has kids or remembers their own childhoods knows that knot in the stomach when starting a new school or class. And the only thing causing that knot was the change to something unknown.

But knot or no knot, change will always be a vital part of life.

The quicker you learn to handle it, the better.

No matter if the change make things better or worse, some things are nevertheless something you can never affect. To use energy to prevent an inevitable change is a complete waste. It is a much greater advantage to use that energy to adapt, no matter if you like the change or not. Whining about it will do no good. Not for you and certainly not for anybody else.

Mind you, I’m not saying you should just float with the stream if something vexes you. I’m just saying that trying to affect something that is beyond your reach is nothing but pointless whining. You will not get happier, and your negative emotions will probably spread.

Image by Jurii
Image edited by the writer

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Those moments of doing nothing

I’ve kept my brain too busy lately.

That sounded quite pompous. I didn’t mean to be. I’ve just realized the importance of letting the brain mind its own business from time to time.

I’m very fond of computer games. And with a Smartphone I get the chance to play while waiting for the bus and later while travelling with it. Fun, but. . . hasn’t my writing slowed down lately? I thought it’s just the fact that I’ve not taken the time to do so, but I think there is more to it than that.

I think I’ve not taken time because I haven’t thought about it. And I have not thought about writing because my brain had nothing to say. It has not been given the time it needs to process and transform.

When I forced myself to sit down to work on my scene planning the brain boosted and I could hardly leave the keyboard.

Yes, I had to force myself because I didn’t feel inspired, but that is quite common. I know that once I sit down the inspiration comes. But that boost was something new.

And usually I feel an urge to sit down even if I don’t feel particularly in the mood for it, just because I know it works. But I have never forgotten I am a writer before.

Before playing Angry Birds and WordFall while I was waiting for the bus I was thinking about what to write here on the blog. When I got the chance to write it down I did and later formed it into something well thought out. Now, when I do other things while waiting, I loose that time to think, and therefore miss the opportunity to plant a seed for a blog entry.

I’ll try to stay away from the games and see if it I notice any difference.

Gee, I wish I could do both, but if I have to choose, the games will go.

Image edited by the writer

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wisdoms from the movies

Professor Albus Dumbledore: Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.

From: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Keeping the plan - not.

According to may plan I should be ready to start writing the 11th of December. I don't think I will make it. I've not even quite done with the first act. Have you also noticed that there is more to do around Christmas?

I'm making steady progress, but not as fast as I had hoped. And I do want to make a proper job and not leave the third act to its fate again.

What I have looks good though, and that is very encouraging.

Is the story worthy?

Marty Kane on Screenwriters Networking Group on Facebook asked:
"Is the story worthy? [..] How do "you" know what's worthy of you spending all the time that we spend developing a story, and characters, that goes into writing your screenplay?"

My reply:
"I don't choose the stories. They choose me. Sometimes I turn out to be worthy the
responsibility, sometimes not."

The more I think of it, the more I belive that my spontaneous reply was spot on how I see it. It is not a matter if the story is worthy, it is a matter if I'm able to tell it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Short script "Escape Room Game" has reached the finals

Contest finalist Writers Place

I’m a finalist!

I am a finalist!!

My short script ”Escape Room Game” has reached the finals of The Writer’s Place’s teleplay/short script contest. One of eighteen finalists is my work.


Winners will be announced the first of January.

Photo by Jujuly25
Edited by the writer

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No child should need to die

Photo by UNICEF/Pelle Bergström

21 000 children under five years of age die every day – e v e r y    d a y. Most of them die of insufficient nutrition, diarrhea and other diseases which all could be easily cured.

But even the simplest solution costs money. Even clean water. Many people in the world do not have any money at all.

When you buy your Christmas gifts, please also remember that you can save lives for the money. You can’t save all the 21 000 children, but you can save the life of one, and for that child and its parents your gift means life and hope for the future.

For every blog entry exposing this situation re:member donate 6 bags of Plumpy Nut. It is a nut cream full nutrition used to help staving children back to health. They need three of these bags each day.

Do you want to do something too? Find blog material here. You can also support your local UNICEF in their work.
No child should need to die.

Photo by UNICEF/Pelle Bergström

Friday, December 2, 2011

Age of characters in movie scripts

I had a discussion on a forum, with another writer, concerning one of my short scripts. He didn’t approve of my rather thin character descriptions. “You don’t even write her age” he pointed out.

I claimed that I had written what is needed for the story – what we need to know is that she has a good looking, curvy figure. The script as a whole tells us that she is old enough to be working as a teacher, and young enough to still work as such. I insisted that a precise age was of no importance. If the director were to find a fifty year old actress with the charm and curves needed, the story would work just as well as if the actress was twenty-five.

Then he went bananas and wrote a long text about what differs between someone who is twenty-five compared to one who is fifty, both mentally and practically.

Of course, there is a difference between someone who is fifty and someone who is twenty-five. But the story still works.

I don’t see any reason to limit the mind of the one reading my script, by adding things that are of no importance for the story.

The type of character descriptions I dislike most, is THOMAS (33). Is it significant that he is exactly 33 years old? Is it written in his face that he is? No. He is between thirty and thirty-five. It is likely that the story works if he was between twenty-five and forty as well. Not only is an exact age of idiocy, it gives me a terrible read. It’s like (33) jumps out of the story like a flying sticker and lands on the forehead of the guy.

It is true that the movie script is like a blueprint for the final movie, but any attempt to make it an exact and detailed design is doomed to fail.

The writer writes the story. That is our job. That is what we do, and we do it better than anybody else in a film crew. Just because we are skilled at our job, and we make the foundation of the next blockbuster, we should not elude ourselves to believe that we know directing, casting, costume and makeup too.

Just because I see a thirty-year-old woman with a curvy body in a slim, green suit it doesn’t mean that her whole appearance is vital to the story. As a matter of fact, it might not even be necessary that it is a female character.

Sure, you should paint an image with your words, but I think you should try to do it with descriptions that leave all but the truly vital aspects open. Put your energy on what is essential.

As for the writer I had a discussion with, I’m looking forward to read a script of his someday, to understand what he looked for in mine.

Photo by: Lajpat Dhingra
"As part of the activities of the Bole Kishori or Girls speak out project of Vacha, girls living in Mumbai bastis are encouraged to express themselves through writing, drawing, photography, theatre and slideshow presentations. The project's facilitators now look forward to training the kishoris, or young girls, to tell their own stories through the medium of video."
Image edited by the writer

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: SuperNotecard

I want to plan my scenes. One reason is that it is inspiring and adds value to the final result when I generate as much as possible before I begin to write. Another reason is that writing is the hard part. It is the thing where I truly show my skill, the result that matters – and I want to spend that energy as effective as possible. I don’t think it is efficient to write the perfect scene only to realize that it does not fit the whole picture.

Celtx has index cards, but I have found them not only dull but also tricky – I had a few cards involuntarily deleted on my last feature project.

I wanted something that was more than an index card where I could add some text. I wanted to add which characters were involved, and where in the arch they were, setups for later use and so on. Visible, sortable and searchable.

What I wanted as output, was some kind of list, with all the data for each scene, which I could flip through on the bus or open on the screen while I was writing.

I found a piece of software that could do exactly this: SuperNotecard by Mindola.

It is not free. The basic version costs $29.

They have a bigger version that is also a scriptwriting tool, taking the index card to the next phase. I was not interested in this, and, therefore, didn’t look at it.

The project file is one single file, so it is easy to embed it into the Celtx project.

You could add what they call Factors that could be characters, or places, or other things, which you could connect to a card. Each Factor could have one or many Characteristics which also could be tied to a card.

This means that I can have an index card to which I connect my main character – a Factor. What is interesting in this scene is to show her background, so I also connect my main character’s characteristics “background” to the card with a note what I want to tell about it. Close to perfect for my needs.

I paid the $29.

The next thing I’m going to do is add categories, set up characters and their “characteristics”, make a “stack” of “cards” for each act and then fire away.