Monday, October 31, 2011


Dear writers.

We're on the precipice of an adventure. We stand outside a dark cave of uncertainty. We wait for the trumpet that rallies us to the call.

We wait on the eve of NaNoWriMo.

We are a small band of devoted storytellers, impassioned voices, slightly unbalanced characters. We feel the urge to do what few would find even rational -- 50,000 words in 30 days? During a month of a major family holiday as well? Would a normal person attempt such a thing?

The answer is no -- but we are no normal beings.

If any of you fellow NaNo-ers out there are like me, you have the mere inklings of a plot, the foggiest visions of a character, and nary an idea what to do after chapter three. But NaNo-ers depart from weather outlines and other conventional wisdom. We believe in the compulsion of artificial deadlines, the longevity of caffeine, and the power of a story. And we will sacrifice our sleep, our fun, and our sanity in order to run the race set out before us.

For those waiting for the gunshot of midnight, best of luck. God speed you through your caffeine-tripping and sleep-deprived haze to the 50,000 word finish line. It's time to sparkle, little dreamers.

Here's to your literary abandon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christmas and Comedy

1. The She & Him Christmas album is wonderful. Does this mean that I've already begun listening to Christmas music? Unconfirmed.

2. While Deadline Hollywood is proclaiming that "the spec market is as dead as disco," Scott Myers just reported the 84th spec sale of the year. Spec sales are up 84% from last year. So, um, yeah. Drop down the disco ball, 'cause I guess disco is coming back too.

3. I have three major projects rolling right now. My assignment for V., NaNoWriMo, and rewriting The Exit Strategy. My goal for this draft of The Exit Strategy is to make it funny. REAL funny. As close to Bridesmaids funny as I can get. I'm reading "Show Me the Funny!" from Peter Desberg & Jeffrey Davis to help. I've already found some nuggets of wisdom, and I'm only in chapter two.

Something I'm definitely going to keep with me while rewriting is something that came out of an interview with Walter Bennett (The Bill Cosby Show, The Steve Harvey Show, In the House, etc. and more). When asked what he does to make a story funnier, he said, "If it's not funny, it's usually because it's not the worst thing that can happen."

I've employed this strategy already, subconsciously. I bumped character relationships up to the next "awful-ness" level. I picked out dialog that could be more inflammatory. I tried to utilize the setting to get the most embarrassment out of situations that i could. I really want to push this next draft so that the worse things that can happen to my main character, do happen. Because, like Bennett says, it works. If you're working with a scene that's moderately funny and you want to know how to kick it up a notch, ask yourself -- is this truly the worst thing that could happen to my character?

This is also so helpful when writing any kind of story and figuring out the main conflict/problem. Figure out what your characters fears or faults are, and play your problem into them. If your character is a coward, require them to show courage. If they are shy, make them step out of their comfort zone. If they are proud, humble them. Find the opposites in your story and use them to create conflict.

And when you need a little serenity from all the craziness that you're instigating, listen to a little Christmas music. It soothes the soul.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bad News.

Kurt Kuenne gives advice on what to do when you get news of a sale that's similar to a script you're working on. I'm looking at you, Young Adult.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coffee shops, my second home.

We're 17 pages into the script I'm writing for V, and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm hoping to have Act I finished in a week for next week's meeting with V. He thinks we'll have a first draft done by mid/late November. I'll be happy if it's before Christmas.

And then we're sending it out for notes.

This is where I get concerned. V and I meet (nearly) every week, and I'm sure if he had any huge concerns he would bring them up. But most of my changes so far have been cosmetic. Maybe that's because we're still pushing through Act I, where the drama is more situational instead of character driven. But I'm a little worried that we're going to drive through the first draft, and I'm going to be oblivious to any big problems, and then we're going to show it to other people (like other of my former professors) and they're going to think it's awful.

But I know I've only gotten better in the last two years. Sometimes it's just hard to remember that when you're sitting alone in a coffee shop, your tea getting cold and your page count barely inching along.

I am excited about NaNoWriMo, though. I'm trying to put some thought and planning into my novel this year. I'm hoping this year I'll come through with something more than just a self published paperback I only let blood relatives and the occasional Hockey Player read.

Want to read it? Sometime in February? Yeah? Well, we'll see.

I thought I had finished my zombie story. I'm trying to prune the list of short stories I have in their various states of disarray. The zombie story had been through two drafts and I thought only need a polish. And then I had a better idea for it. Work is never finished. You can always be improving...

It's so cold everywhere.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Seasonal Fun.

I've never considered myself a horror writer, but since I'm writing a zombie story I found this apt and timely -- 25 Things You Should Know About Writing Horror.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ready? GO.

So, I just had to read my own blog to figure out where I left off. LAME. I think I'm figuring something out. I think I can either have fun in my life, football games and wedding planning (my best friend's) and concerts and hosting wine tasting dinner parties -- or I can be a writer.

Guess it's time to stop having so much fun.

I'm not even able to properly analyze the new fall shows because I can barely keep up with them [except I'm totally going to plug the ones I HAVE been keeping up with -- The New Girl and Community! I'm kinda feeling Pan Am too].

I have been making steady progress on my writing assignment for V. We've moved past prewriting and I've started writing actual pages. The only problem is that I boasted I could write 8 pages an hour if I was focused. I totally can, it's just finding that hour. I ran into another former professor while working with V. last week. He told V., "Amy Butler is fantastic." Yep, been feeling pretty stellar since then.

But I had best utilize October, because I'm doing National Novel Writing Month this year! I haven't participated in NaNo since I was a living in England, 5 years ago. But I've been feeling the siren call of fiction for the past several months, and I think NaNo's just the thing.

I've been working on other fiction projects, though. Speaking of steps I haven't taken in a while, I just submitted a short story to Glimmer Train, the first submission I've made to a market in a very long time. Glimmer Train is pretty prestigious, and the tone of my story is a bit excessively tongue in cheek, so we'll see how it goes. I'm going to pull out the other piece I wrote over the summer and clean it up too. And lastly, I've started writing a short zombie story. It's called "One Sad Zombie." I have a lot of time to think at work.

I am also ready to update the layout of this blog. Totally not a fan. However, the domain I wanted is already taken on both Blogger AND Wordpress, so I think we're stuck with the same old format for a while.

I also want to buy a leather jacket. Non writing related goal.