Enjoying the journey

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
~ Lao Tzu

It’s been more than a month since I’ve attended the London Screenwriter’s Festival. Time really does go by too fast.

I have enjoyed every bit of this wonderful event! Starting from the opening speech till the last drinks with fellow writers at the Globe, a lovely pub. I’ve met a lot of new friends, fellow voyagers on the writer’s journey. I learned a lot from well-known speakers; heroes of every screenwriter. Above all, it provided me exactly what I was looking for: acknowledgment. Fellow writers who treat me as writer too.

A few years back when I finally had the courage to take a step onto the writer’s journey, I was pumped with energy. It felt good! It still feels good. Like I’ve finally found the right path. I started with a blank screen and now I can call myself the writer of a feature screenplay and several short scripts.

But as the journey advances I started to feel lonely too due to the lack of fellow travellers who understand what I’m doing and what I stand for. I have no one in my surroundings with whom I can share my struggles and discuss about writing. It’s like being lost in the ocean holding just a raft. While I was trying to keep my head above water, I started to lose my motivation. Slowly procrastination became a habit.

Fortunately, somewhere in the ocean there is an island called LSF. And I started to swim to it. When I’ve reached it, I found out that it is a very big island. I felt a bit tense stepping onto this island for the first time. But tense faded away immediately when a fellow writer reached out to me. And from that moment on I’m reassured that this is a safe haven for writers!

Everyone is welcome at LSF! Whether you’re a novice writer or a seasoned master of the craft, LSF greets everybody with a warm embrace. Complete strangers would make contact with each other and it doesn’t feel strange, because we all have one thing in common: the passion for writing. It’s like one big family and I am grateful to have found this family.

Although I started this journey many years ago, it is not until now that I finally feel to have leapt one big step forward. With so many fellow travellers around to share my adventures with this trip can only get better and better! And I can safely explore the ocean without feeling lonely again!

You too can be part of this big family! LSF is offering an early bird ticket now. Go to the website HERE and grab this deal!

Review: The Crown (Netflix)

The Crown started Friday November 4th 2016 on Netflix. A total of 10 episodes.

I have been waiting for this series to come to Netflix ever since they’ve announced it last summer. I just finished watching Downton Abbey then and was looking for another period drama to continue binge watching. But there weren’t many series in that genre that could hold my interest for more than 2 episodes.

I’ve spend three evenings watching all ten episodes of The Crown and every minute was worth it. I expected a high quality show not just on visual aspect but also in storytelling. And The Crown has not let me down. But then, I am a bit biased because I do particularly love English period drama and history in general.

The story starts late 1940s showing Elizabeth in love with Philip. Elizabeth, as any young woman at that time, longing for a loving husband, becoming a wife and mother.

As the series move on, we come to know more about the life of young Elizabeth; how she turned from a princess to heir presumptive and eventually crowned to be Queen of The United Kingdom. What impact that life had on her and her family. And we get to know the rules, scandals and intrigues behind the facade of the Royal House.

Although Elizabeth knows that one day she will become the Queen of The United Kingdom, that day came sooner than she thought. When her father, King George VI, died of lung cancer while Elizabeth was on the Commonwealth tour in her father’s place, she’s instantly transformed into Queen Elizabeth and has almost been denied the time to even grieve.

From this moment on the journey starts for Elizabeth. She is bound by the strict rules and customs of the Royal House, the cabinet and Church. She has to keep up the reputation of the Royal House to her people and the people around the world. She has to be the perfect Queen. That contradicts her life as a woman.

Creator Peter Morgan constructed the story very well and made every characters almost touchable. Completed by the excellent performance of  Claire Foy, you can almost feel what The Queen felt when she has to take yet another decision that is against her own feeling and of harm to the people in her life. You can feel how she struggles to be a Queen and a daughter, sister, mother and wife at the same time. How powerless she is and yet how strong she stayed in the roll. It touches you and you will sympathise with Elizabeth.

The Crown is said to be the most expensive series on Netflix of all time. If you’d ask me, I’d say it’s well invested. It is a wonderful and compelling show with excellent directing and cinematography.

It is, though, not an action driven series, but more a character drama. The pace is slow and the story sometimes goes into details of an event. If you’re looking for fast paced stories, this is not your cup of tea. But if you love period drama and biopics, I highly recommend The Crown. In my opinion it is a fine piece of art.

And now we wait for season two.

 

httpss://youtu.be/JWtnJjn6ng0

Downton Abbey, reviver of my writing spirit

“To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage in a man.”

~ Euripedes

In the past few months I’ve finished and rewritten my first screenplay. I’ve even sent it out to some screenwriting contests. I was very proud and satisfied and It gave me strength to carry on.

The idea for my first story came to me rather easily and I do strongly believe in this story. But now that it is finished I felt myself falling into a dark hole. I have another story in mind but it doesn’t feel as strong as the first one. So, I started to doubt. I doubt myself, I doubt my capabilities, I doubt my skills.

While I was self pitying I thought I might as well watch some TV series or movies to cheer myself up (and for research of course!). As I was curious why Downton Abbey was so highly recommended (and because of the wonderful Dame Maggie Smith) I started to watch it on Netflix. After the first episode I was already hooked.

It was not a very good idea, starting to watch it; I finished watching four seasons in three days! After that my mind could only think of Downton Abbey! And every character flows in my mind all day long. I think about the fate and fortune of all characters. The good ones and the ill-minded ones. That doesn’t happen often when I watch a movie of series. I did not only enjoy the serie, I actually learned a great deal from it!

Every scene of every episode is so well constructed. Every bit of it contains intrigue, suspense, conflict and mysterious twists that moves the story forward and hook the audience. Every character is so well built that makes the audience curious about all their fates. From the earl to the footmen, from the ladies to the kitchen maids. Every story line is just so fabulously written. Watching the serie is almost like you’re a part of it yourself!

It could discourage a novice writer like me. Because watching such a masterpiece can make a novice writer, who struggles with story construction and writing, feel very small. But the odd thing is, I don’t feel that way! Downton Abbey was a wonderful gift to me (or rather, a subscription on Netflix was a wonderful gift I gave myself). It gave me courage to persevere writing. Julian Fellowes has shown me the tricks of how a good story should be and what good scenes need in order to push the story forward. He gave me strength to keep on constructing stories. And I just hope that one day I will have such a masterpiece of my own that people will love to watch.

 

Carol, saviour of my writing soul

“Flung out of space.”

~ Carol

Carol is literally flung out of space to me. I watched this movie a few weeks back and it hit me hard. It’s such a beautiful, delicate and gorgeous movie. Todd Haynes really blew my mind with his directing! Phyllis Nagy inspired me to keep on writing. This movie will stay #1 on my most favourite movie list.

I fell in love with this movie instantly. Read about why I love Carol so much here on the Londen Screenwriters Festival website.

Scribble away in Scrivener

If you type in “Scrivener” in Google you can find around 3740.000 results about this software. So, there really isn’t much that I can add to it. But I really want to tell you how amazing this writing tool is!

My story with Scrivener started when I was looking for a good software to organise my writings. I started with MS Word. Excellent software if you only need to create one document. But unfortunately, insufficient when you want to keep all your scribbles of one project together. Of course you can put all related documents in the same folder. But you still have to open them separately. And before you know it your desktop is covered with tiny little windows. Very confusing.

Aside of the organising part, MS Word doesn’t provide formatted templates for screenwriting. So, it takes a lot of effort for one to write a good formatted screenplay in Word. That’s the reason I started to search for some other software.

When I did a search for screenwriting software, Final Draft was, of course, the first hit I got. But unfortunately, I couldn’t afford Final Draft with my tiny budget. So, I kept on searching and I found Celtx. It claimed to be a free software if you work online in their cloud. But you will miss some features if you use the free version. Plus, I don’t want to work online constantly, because sometimes I work at places that doesn’t provide WIFI. And I really want to keep my documents local.

There is a desktop version of Celtx though. It costs around €20,-. It’s a most basic version that only allows you to write a screenplay. If you want to add, for example, character sketches, you have to switch to the online mode. I can not tell you much about the online version, because I haven’t really used it. But the desktop version still has some bugs that needs to be solved, though. If you only need a writing tool for a screenplay, Celtx works just fine.

But I still wasn’t satisfied with Celtx because I miss a lot of features. So, I went on searching and I found information about Scrivener on the website of The Writer’s store. I did some research about this software, read some reviews and watched some tutorial videos online. And I thought: this is it!

For a very affordable price of less than €50,- I downloaded Scrivener from Literature and Latte. And a whole new world was opening up to me! Not only can I use Scrivener to write screenplays (it comes with excellent templates for different screen-writings!) I can also use it to write novels (fiction AND non-fiction templates are provided!) and even start a recipe collection (maybe one day…)!

Starting a project in Scrivener is very easy. Just choose a template and write away! You can use images or add notes to your project and simply just attach them to the binder and you can keep all related documents for one project all together. So, you never have to open them separately anymore. You can add different folders to the binder for different purposes. And you can discard scenes or documents which you don’t need. They will be kept in the trash bin of the project. If you should, for some reason, decide to retrieve the removed documents, just fish them out of the trash bin and put them back in the folder.

Best part of Scrivener is the cork board. The cork board shows you an overview of all documents in one particular folder as index cards pinned on a board. You can easily arrange scenes or move around documents. You can label the cards with different colours and different statuses. It provides you so much clarity!

This writing tool is really a must have for writers who wants to keep their projects well organised.

Not convinced yet? Read more about Scrivener:
Writing a screenplay in Scrivener by Gwen Hernandez
Scrivener review on www.standoutbooks.com

Watch an introduction video to Scrivener here.

Writer’s foreplay

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

I always had that romantic image of a writer in my head: a melancholic appearance, hanging over a laptop in a coffeeshop, sipping a cup of black coffee, typing away the words which hit the screen like water hitting breakers. Occasionally shedding an eye on a small notebook at the corner of the table and then continue processing the information into the story on the bright screen.

Unfortunately, I found out that it doesn’t work that way. Being a writer is everything but romantic. It is hard work! You can’t just write away and and skip the foreplay. The foreplay of a writer isn’t romantic either. It means a lot of research, outlining, structuring and absorbing all kinds of information about the subject you are writing.

The foreplay is necessary! I made the big mistake of skipping this proces and followed the image of a romantic writer, eager to become one of myself. I failed!

As a novice writer I started to write my first story without preparations. Well, of course I did some structuring and outlining. I knew, for instance, who my protagonist is and what her goal will be. I focused on it, wrote down some notes about her and her goal. I also knew who the antagonist is and what she wanted from my main character. Well, that should be enough, right?!

I didn’t work out a detailed outline. Just worked out half a story structure. Didn’t get to know my story characters as good as I should have and what they do and what they really really want. I didn’t work out the side characters and their stories. I just started to write down my story while the foreplay wasn’t even getting warm let even hot. I managed to get words processed on my laptop. But the more I wrote, the more I got lost! The story went a whole different way than I had planned! All the characters did something different than I wanted them to. The main story did stick a bit, but all side stories went astray. I had to adjust the story while I was writing and it took me a lot of time to get it straight again. When I finally typed “Fade out” the outcome was a whole different story than I had in my mind in the first place. The rewrite was fun though. But that was only after I wrote a detailed outline and set up a new structure. And I made a character sketch for every character that appears in the story and got to know them again. If only I had started with these preparations in the first place, it could’ve saved me a lot of precious time.

So, the next project I started, I did my research and structuring well! The writing went a lot smoother than my first project and the story sticks! It saved me a lot of struggling while writing.

This is one thing I learned: just consider writing is your love relationship. You can not just reach an ecstatic state without hugging and a kissing. The more you know about your partner and his or her needs the better your love life will be! The same works for writing. The better you do your research and structure the better the outcome will be!

Don’t make the same mistake I did! Be well prepared if it concerns your precious story! But by all means, if you have made the same mistake I did, don’t give up! Just get over it and keep on writing! Learn from the mistake. Make the second attempt a better one. And the third one even more better. Because, if that is what you love to do, you will somehow learn to play the first bit and successfully get to the ecstatic stage!

More on structuring:
Find some strong facts about structure by Bang2Write here
Some interesting structuring tips article on ScriptMag.com: The Four Act Structure

Two zero one six

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”
~ John Mason

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
~ Oscar Wilde

I intend to start every post with an inspirational quote of a famous person. But when I started this post, the first post of the year, I couldn’t think of any good quotes of anybody. So far for the inspiration.

After thinking for a while I still can’t think of a good line to start with. So, either my brains are still in holiday mode or I totally lack creativity.

Since I refuse to accept that I lack creativity (how else can I explain the crazy things I write) I decide that it has to be my brains that refuse to come back from holiday. So, I just let it rest a bit more. It is, after all, the part of my body that works the hardest. I just start to write what comes up to me.

Well, where to start then without a quote? Normally, that would be my starting point. I guess the most convenient subject at hand would be 2016. Are you ready for this?

Let me first wish you all a splendid 2016! I should’ve done that at the beginning of the post. But since everybody starts with that line, what fun would it be if I start with it too?

2016.

This will be a terrific year for me as a writer. I can feel it! I started this year with:

2 resolutions: write more and sport more.
0 regrets: I think I ended 2015 well.
1 goal: to publish.
6 projects: two I’m currently working on and will finish soon; four ideas that are about to start.

I’d say I got enough activities to fill 2016!

As an aspiring author I find it sometimes difficult to keep writing on a routine. There are so many things in daily life that need my attention. I spend too little time on writing last year. That will definitely change this year. There were some moments that I felt bad I didn’t write more. But then I consoled myself with the thought that I at least did write some things! I know that if I had put more effort in making time free to write I would’ve probably finished the screenplay I’m currently working on just before new year. But it’s okay. I have written a screenplay. So, don’t be hard for yourself. Instead give yourself a compliment for what you’ve accomplished.

It is a good thing to set a goal. Last year my goal was to write. This year it would be to publish. And to enter a writing contest. I feel more confident now than a year back. I used a year to practise the skills. Now I’m ready for the real thing! Set a goal and work to it!

Six projects on hand is maybe a bit ambitious. I’ve read articles about working on just one or two projects at a time. Otherwise you will get distracted. I tried. But I can’t help it that splendid ideas (I think they’re splendid) comes to me every now and then. So, I write them down and think of a new project to put them in. And it works just fine for me. I think it’s okay to do your writing on your own conditions. Just do it and make your creations. It’s yours, you decide how to do it!

There are many great sites and articles about writing on the internet. You can find everything you need out there. And most of them are very useful. Read them, get the things out of it that are useful to you and use them on your own way. Remember to find your own writing footprint and set them in the writing world. Create your own writing identity! Don’t be a copy of someone else, because there are already many copies out there.

And there, I have just found two quotes to use for my post while I just ask for one! Sometimes you have to let go to let a miracle happen! My brains are back from holiday!

Happy new writing year everyone!

Liz Gilbert chimes in

“Done is better than good.”
~ Carole Gilbert

When I heard about the new book of Elizabeth Gilbert I knew it wasn’t coincidence. It was meant to be for me to read this book. “Big Magic” gives ons advise on how to live a creative life. The first thing I did was grabbing my iPad and made an online order for this book.

For a few weeks now I was stuck on my project. I’ve been doubting whether the screenplay I’m currently working on is good enough. I doubted about the originality of my story. And last but not least lack of confidence just became even worse.

And then Liz Gilbert chimes in. She wrote in “Big Magic” that one has to embrace creativity. She teaches her readers how to keep close with creativity. She explains that it’s not about failure nor success. If you really want to pursue a creating life you just have to work with it! Let the flow go. Allow it to be there. Don’t block it just because you think you suffer from it.

Just create your art and it doesn’t matter what reactions it will trigger. There will be people who loves your work. There will also be people who hates your work. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is how you feel about your work. How you feel when you are creating your work. How you feel if you don’t. How it feels when you finish it. As long as you keep creating you will feel the magic.

I’m halfway through the book and I already feel inspired. I’ve put aside my project for a really long time now. That’s because I didn’t know how to carry on. I felt like inspiration was gone and creativity took a holiday. They both left me. Then I realised that it was really me who left them. I pushed them away by telling myself I’m not good enough. That was in a way to tell inspiration and creativity that I don’t trust them. That must’ve really hurt.

I’ve made it up with them now. I told myself no matter what I will keep writing. Because I really love writing. It doesn’t matter if what I write is crap of brilliant. I will keep doing it! And I told creativity that I need him. And I would love to work with him. I apologised for the times I’ve let him down just because I don’t know how to put order to the chaos in my head. I promised I won’t do that anymore. I will keep writing, keep creating even if I don’t know what to write. If I could just keep practising I believe creativity will stay with me and help me. And that’s what really matters. I don’t want creativity to leave me. I will walk with him side by side from now on. I will talk to him, ask him for help and stick with him always.

As Elizabeth Gilbert pointed out in her book; there are too many unfinished works on this world. I intend to finish mine and start a new one and finish that one too. And there will be more to come! Do it people. Finish you creative work. It doesn’t matter if it is bad or brilliant. Just get it done! And feel the satisfaction.

Thank you Liz Gilbert for a wonderful book with invaluable advise!

More on Elizabeth Gilbert: Elizabeth Gilbert official website

Don’t think. Create!

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”
~ Ray Bradbury

From the moment I finally took action to write I’ve been teased with blocks of which I don’t know how to get rid of. What to do if you just don’t know how to go on with your writing? Well, I found out the best remedy is really to keep on writing.

Even though you think the things you write during a block might be crappy it is best not to stop. The worst thing  that can happen is just some bad text on the screen. Big deal! What’s so scary about that? The best you can get though is that you might have some real great stuff that you’re not yet aware of! And you can always rewrite everything! But if you don’t write you have nothing!

The thing about blocks is that we let our ego get to us too quickly. Ego will tell us that the things we write is not good enough. It’ll think about the logic, about order, about realistic life. But come on! Art is not logical, most of the time art is chaos and it certainly is not realistic! Writing is art!

It is still very hard to ignore that little voice in my head but I’m aware of its presence. It still gets to me most of the time. But I’ve become real good in catching it. When I’ve banned the little voice that’s the time that creativity can really flow freely. You can’t really get rid of it but you can learn how to deal with it. Just let him be. Don’t listen to it and keep up your good work!

So, please, don’t think! Thinking is really the enemy of creativity. Just let it flow, Write everything down and keep on doing it even though some little voice tells you it’s not good enough. Just write, because you can always rewrite.