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Day 297: The Slackard Slump

I’ve been lazy, really lazy. It’s been just over two-weeks since my last post and the only excuse I can offer is I just didn’t feel like writing anything—at all. If it weren’t for my weekly workshop I may not have accomplished anything. Luckily, that Thursday night meet up has kept me cranking out pages. I have definitely made my month with around 60 pages altogether, but they were difficult pages to come by.

I have ignored updating the box office results or posting new articles to the news page. I just didn’t have the energy. I think I was on such a big push in May and June with two writer’s conferences and all the rewrites that I just ran out of steam. I suppose it happens, but it has caused some anxiety and bouts of guilt. There are only about two months left on the journey and I’m struggling with what happens when I hit that mark. Obviously, my writing won’t come to an end; it’s just an artificial deadline. And I can say that I have learned a lot in the past 10 months and my writing is much stronger. I wish I had applied this level of concentration earlier. Still, there is that nagging concern of what comes next, how do I fill the next two months.

Anxious moments aside, the last two-weeks have had their productive moments. I’ve taken about 36 pages into the Rewrites Workshop and received pretty stellar comments. The first night I was told the pages from The Devil’s Tramping Ground were “brilliant.” There was one concern, however. In those pages, Doug (our hero) takes two of his friends to spend the night at the Tramping Ground. It’s where we get our first encounter with what could be the paranormal. The complaint was it’s just three guys camping out in the woods. Where are the women?

One fellow writer stated emphatically, if there are three guys camping in the woods, there needs to be three women who all end up topless running through the woods from whatever is out there. The only reason he watches horror is to see (his words) “the tits flopping.” And there’s my audience. It’s a psychological horror, not a slasher. There are no teens getting chopped up for having pre-marital sex. Have I shot myself in the foot by not showing gratuitous sex? I do have a sex scene coming up, but it is a necessary plot point, not simply “tits flopping.” Will it be enough? Does it come too late (no pun intended)?

Subsequent pages have also returned high comments for the writing, but the question of where are the girls keeps coming up. I keep seeing articles and comments about making female characters stronger and more integrated with the story, not just sexual adornments, but it seems our lofty stated expectations are countered by what the paying audience really wants, which apparently is bare-breasted women running through the woods screaming.

In other news, The Calling was some type of winner/honorable mention in the Festival of Horror screenplay competition. As you may recall, the Festival of Horror is one of those screenplay contests that I didn’t think sounded too legitimate, so I was curious to see what would happen. I didn’t win the big prize of a full videotaped read, but they would like to do a scene or two. They didn’t provide a list of winners so it’s hard to tell exactly what that means. Does everybody who submitted get a videotaped scene? Who won and got a full taped reading? There is no list or a taped reading posted for June, but they had another deadline at the beginning of June and another is now posted for July. . .but no winners. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like it’s all that legitimate, as I feared. But there is a caveat. Every submission receives feedback. The question was how good is that feedback for only a $35 submission fee? The answer is surprisingly good, particularly when compared to larger competitions like the Austin Film Festival which charges an additional $100 on top of the submission fee for feedback.

The notes weren’t extensive, but it was obvious they had read the entire script. They thought there were genuine scary moments that didn’t rely on jump scares. They liked the character development, the backstory of the falls and thought the pacing was well executed throughout. The first two acts were well written, but the problems began in Act Three. This seemed to mirror the comments from Mark Castaldo at Destiny Pictures, only this time the problems were identified more specifically.

There seems to be some confusion over the Sheriff’s resurrection and the idea of there being a second grave that needed to be filled. I used a time jump/shift to answer these questions, but I guess I haven’t really explained how that works. That may be the “wild and out there” question Mr. Castaldo had. I originally had a different ending on the script, but that seemed to leave too many unanswered other “practical” questions like how does Connor explain a dead police officer’s body in his house? It looks like I’m going to have to try and rework the ending and find some middle ground. I’m going to have to buckle down and crank some pages out if I want to submit to the Screencraft Horror competition by the end of the month (5 days away). While I can’t say the competition side of the Festival for Horror was worth the price of submission, the quality of their feedback certainly was.

And finally, both The Calling and Come Ups have been receiving a fair number of looks on, with Come Ups being read by a production company. Both scripts have even received extra notice as official selections for the weekly Inktip newsletter that gets sent out to industry professionals. There may be a problem with Come Ups, however. The administrator of the Rewrites Workshop wanted to read the full script with all the changes I’ve made. He really enjoyed it, calling it a page turner. His only criticism (ready for this?) was that he didn’t really care for Shep. He didn’t find the character quite relatable enough. Seriously? That was such a major concern for me, and I worked so hard to make him likeable. I thought I had finally achieved that, but apparently there is still some more work to do with Shep.

I guess all writing really is rewriting.

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