Here’s the opening of my sit-com!

This is my semi-autobiographical sitcom I briefly worked on a couple years back.  I only went four episodes into it but I have the rough strokes of the entire series laid out.  Think of it as Big Bang Theory if they were all morons. 🙂

EPISODE ONE

TEASER

EXT. HOUSE

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

HEATHER, 20 something brunette girl, is dragging a wheeled suitcase out of a bedroom until she runs into STEPHEN, a dopey looking blonde 20 something guy with a melodramatically heartbroken look on his face.

STEPHEN                              Don’t leave.

HEATHER (smiles)            I have to Stephen, you know that. I can’t live here anymore.

STEPHEN                              But… I need you.

HEATHER                             You’ll be fine. You have Alex.

STEPHEN                              Yeah, but he kinda sucks…

HEATHER                             He’s your best friend. You’ll be fine.

STEPHEN                              Will you still make movies with us? We need someone to be Slave Leia when we get to Jedi!

HEATHER                             Yes, I’ll still make movies with you, and no, I told you a million times, I’m not going to wear a metal bikini!

STEPHEN reaches forward to grab onto the end of her coat like a child.

STEPHEN                              You can’t leave, Heather! We need you!

HEATHER lovingly puts a hand to his cheek like a child.

HEATHER                             Oh, Stephen… you realize I was dating Alex, right?

STEPHEN (unperturbed)                               Yes, but we need you to pay rent!

HEATHER chuckles and drops her hand, moving past him.

STEPHEN (calls after her)              No, seriously, we need your money!

INT. DOWNSTAIRS MAIN ROOM

HEATHER drags her suitcase along, passing ALEX a mopey looking crew cut brown-haired 20 something guy with his arms crossed, not making eye contact.

ALEX (monotone)            So, you’re leaving then.

HEATHER (neutral)          Yep.

ALEX                                      Ok.

HEATHER                             Ok?

ALEX (flaps his arms out)              What do you want me to say? Don’t leave? You know I don’t want you to. I want you to stay.

HEATHER                             Alex, I can’t live here anymore. We broke up.

ALEX                                      So you can’t still be our roommate?

HEATHER                             Of course not! I can’t live with my ex boyfriend, nobody does that! Like any guy would want to date me.

ALEX                                      Nice to hear you’re already moving onto the next guy.

HEATHER (sighs)               I didn’t mean it like that, Alex, and I’m not. I just… can’t be here.

ALEX                                      We can’t afford to live here alone, you know.

HEATHER                             So Stephen keeps telling me.

ALEX                                      Seriously, we can’t afford it.

HEATHER                             So get a new roommate.

STEPHEN (off-screen, loud, shocked)     A NEW ROOMATE???

HEATHER (leans back to shout)  YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO, STEPHEN!

STEPHEN (OS)                    I DON’T WANT TO! I LIKE YOU!

HEATHER                             I LIKE YOU TOO! BUT I GOTTA GO!

STEPHEN (OS)                    WHAT IF ALEX PROMISES NOT TO BE A DICK?

HEATHER                             YOU KNOW HE CAN’T FOLLOW THROUGH ON THAT!

ALEX (annoyed)                                Uh, I’m right here…

HEATHER (faces him, smiles)       Sorry. You know you can’t follow through on that.

ALEX                                      Ugh, just go already.

HEATHER                             I’m sorry, Alex.

HEATHER starts for the door.

ALEX                                      Have a nice life, I guess.

HEATHER (stops)              Alex. I told you. I want to still be friends.

ALEX                                      Just… not here.

HEATHER                             I’ll come visit. All the time. But I need my own place.

STEPHEN (OS)                    WHAT ABOUT OUR MOVIE?

HEATHER                             I’LL STILL WORK ON IT!

STEPHEN (OS)                    WHAT?

HEATHER                             I SAID I’LL STILL WORK ON IT!

STEPHEN (OS)                    ALEX, WHAT IS SHE SAYING?

ALEX                                      WHY DON’T YOU JUST COME DOWNSTAIRS?

STEPHEN (OS)                    I WANTED TO GIVE YOU GUYS SOME PRIVACY!

HEATHER                             BYE, STEPHEN!

STEPHEN (OS)                    WHAT?

HEATHER (smiles, wistful)            Good bye, Alex.

She leans forward to give him a hug. He squeezes back and it lingers longer than it should.

ALEX                                      Bye.

She smiles and leaves. Alex watches her go through the open door, looking thoughtful and sad.

STEVE N comes from downstairs.

STEPHEN                              Is she gone then…

(horrified)                           Oh my god! What are you doing?!

He rushes forward to close the door.

It’s winter! You’re losing all our heat!

ALEX                                      Yeah, I guess we’ll have to worry about that more now.

STEPHEN rushes about the room in a panic.

STEPHEN                              And why are all these lights on?! We don’t need all this light!

ALEX (sighs)                        We’re gonna need a new roommate.

TITLE CARD

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Top Five Writing Tips I’ve Learned

I’ve read a lot of writing books this past year and I’ve been learning a lot. In the past few weeks I’ve been tearing through Chuck Wendig’s books. They’re cheap, incredibly entertaining and quick reads (if you don’t mind some dirty language!). I think all five of these can be directly attributed to him:

5.  Avoid flowery “purple” prose. Don’t use big SAT words. Keep it simple, stupid. The point of a sentence is to be concise and easy to read, not to impress people with your thesaurus skills.

4.  Remove passive tense. Always have the action performed by the noun. I’ve been using passive to describe pre-existing actions but I’m trying to kill that now.

3.  Cut unnecessary words. Read a sentence you’ve written. Can you remove words and keep the sentence functioning? Then cut them!

2.  You’re going to rewrite! This was a hard truth for me to accept. I thought writing was a) intense planning, b) writing the final product, c) fixing typos. I had it in my mind that pre-planning everything out in my head would erase any mistakes. But no plan survives contact with the enemy. You’re going to have to do edits. Rewrites. Fixes. Sometimes even throw out sections and start anew. Entire new scenes will need to be added. It’s all part of the process.

1. You’re allowed to write bad. This is the top reason I put off writing for years. To my mind, I had to get it perfect the first time through or else it would be permanently flawed. And what happened because of that attitude? I stopped writing. You have to write; even if it’s bad. You’ll fix it in the edits. But if you fall out of the habit of writing, you’ll never get back to it.

Great Death Scenes

(Nerdy spoiler alert! If anyone cares I’m going to discuss a major death in a recent issue of the Avengers comic book.)

There’s nothing more involving than a good death scene, and lots of people die in comic books. (and then come back) Just a few weeks ago I read a really great death scene to share with you.

Some background:

Namor is the King of Atlantis and a character that’s been around since 1939. He’s been a villain as much as a hero. He’s the most arrogant prick in the Marvel Universe and always tries to steal Susan Richards away from her husband Mister Fantastic.

A few years back, Namor was infected with the Phoenix Force (long story) and destroyed Wakanda, the African nation ruled by the Black Panther. He was later cured but remained unrepentant for his actions. Black Panther (T’Challa) swore vengeance on him, but they were forced to work together because of the new crisis:

The multiverse is destroying itself. Universes are crashing into one another and obliterating themselves. The intellectual elite of the Marvel U banded together to solve this impossible problem and were driven to increasingly desperate and immoral solutions.

They finally ran out of ideas, abandoned all hope, and sat back to watch the universe die. But nothing happened. Because Namor, on his own, freed Thanos and his followers from prison and led them to destroy the other Earth (and thus, the other universe) before it destroyed theirs.

But Namor quickly lost control of Thanos and realized the err of his ways. He crawled back to the heroes seeking help. They concocted a plot to lure Thanos onto a dying Earth and explode a bomb trapping the villains in the dying universe.

Namor led Thanos into the trap and flew back to the portal to escape- only to find T’Challa waiting for him. He stabs Namor in the heart and sends him crashing back to the dying Earth, and then delivered this monologue when asked why he didn’t close the portal immediately:

“I know that look. You’re wondering, what am I waiting for? … Because I want him to know- really know– it’s over. To fully realize there’s no forgiveness for what he’s done. That there is a price and he’s finally going to pay it- that there’s no mercy for men like him, and even if there was, he doesn’t get any.” (The camera pans in on Namor’s face as he wakes up… realizes what happened… and explodes in rage…) “I want him to know this is how it ends. And more than that… I want him to know… it was me.”

“Where is he, T’Challa? Where’s Namor?”

“He’s not coming,” T’Challa says.

Now, this being comics, Namor will be alive and well in a year or two. But still, what a great ending to a great character.

My favorite current authors? Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Nobody writes a suspenseful page turner better!  Between them they’ve published 31 novels since starting with “The Relic” in 1995 and I’ve loved all of them (or at the least, most of them).

Agent Pendergast, a modern day Sherlock Holmes, is one of my favorite literary characters.  I still can’t believe they haven’t made a movie series out of him yet, particularly with the recent Sherlock media craze.  The Pendergast series has been dependably excellent throughout, though I do miss the slightly more paranormal days of the early books.  It also has a great sense of continuity with a large cast of recurring characters and building subplots that ran through multiple books.

Fortunately their solo author novels tend to veer into sci-fi/paranormal to meet that need.  Every one of their books is a solid read; I would even recommend the worst (which would probably be Tyrannosaur Canyon).  If you’re looking to try just one, I’d recommend “Utopia”, which is basically Die Hard in Disney World.

There’s not many current authors out there I get excited about, but a new book from them always means an exciting weekend.  I’m still looking for a thriller author to match them.

http://www.amazon.com/Douglas-Preston/e/B000AQ0AWW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1421983933&sr=1-2-ent

http://www.amazon.com/Lincoln-Child/e/B000APYNUI/ref=ntt_aut_sim_3_1

Magical moment last night… the first on-screen appearance of Lando Calrissian since 1983 #StarWarsRebels

Ever since I was little, Star Wars has always been my first love.  I even love the Extended Universe.  I’ve read most of the novels and a few of the comics.  Hell, I’m even a Prequel Apologist.  Yes, I will agree with you on every single complaint lobbed against them: the wooden acting, the bland dialogue, the whiny unlikeable main character, the poorly written romance, the cartoony CGI…  Except for Jar Jar- there’s no excusing him.  😉

But it’s still Star Wars.  And while the execution left much to be desired, I find the story of the corruption and collapse of a Republic (and the microcosm of that in the Jedi’s Chosen One) at the hands of a single visionary to be much more compelling than a ragtag bunch of rebels fighting an evil Empire.  Star Wars will always have flaws, but nothing else fills me with nostalgia quite like it.

First Publication

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be getting my first story published in March 2015 in the fantasy anthology series TALES OF FORTANNIS: A BARD DAY’S KNIGHT.  It’s a franchise created by Michael Ventrella that currently comprises four books; two solely by Ventrella and two anthologies by several authors.  It’s a fantasy series with a great sense of humor about itself.

Here’s more information on Michael Ventrella’s books:

http://www.amazon.com/Michael-A.-Ventrella/e/B005EIMPO2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1421711954&sr=1-2

I would also recommend his most recent novel BLOODSUCKERS, an urban fantasy / political thriller about a vampire running for President that was a lot of fun.

http://www.amazon.com/Bloodsuckers-Michael-Ventrella-ebook/dp/B00KKSGVZK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I’ve been writing all my life (and before I could write, I was dictating to my parents!) but this is my first step in the door.  I’ve completed a couple novels, and started even more, in the intervening years that will hopefully one day see the light of day.  Perhaps in the future I’ll get a second foot in the door!  🙂

First!

This will be my first website since those halcyon days of Geocities back in the 90s.  I remember having a ridiculously detailed X-Files Mythology Guide where I would freeze-frame my VHS copy to count the number of alien tanks on the screen.  At the time, it felt incredibly important to me to know that number…