The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Have you heard of the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest? I hadn’t until a friend (thank you, Stan!) sent me the link to their 2012 contest winners. To give you a flavor of what the contest is about and why the winning entries are definitely worth reading, here is one of the Dishonorable Mentions in the Romance category:

“Chain-smoking as he stood in the amber glow of the street lamp, he gazed up at the brownstone wherein resided Bunny Morgan, and thought how like a bunny Bunny was, though he had read somewhere that rabbits were coprophages, which meant that they ate their own feces, which was really disgusting now that he thought about it, and nothing like Bunny, at least he hoped not, so on second thought Bunny wasn’t like a bunny after all, but she still was pretty hot.” – Emma DeZordi, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

Check out the winners for more gems here.

CONCEPT with Scott Myers

I’m thrilled. I just got a spot in Scott Myers class on CONCEPT, starting on Monday. Here’s what his website says about the course:

In this 1-week online screenwriting class, you will delve into the mindset of Hollywood studio executives, producers, agents, and managers, and learn time-tested ways to generate and develop story concepts, as well as the means to evaluate them to help you know when you find a winning script idea.

  • Hone your ability to think like a script buyer and see what they look for in a story concept.
  • Workshop your own story concepts through writing assignments targeted toward improving your brainstorming and critical analysis skills.

Scott comes highly recommended as a teacher, so I’m thrilled about being accepted into this class. And I certainly need the help when it comes to understanding concept!

Weathering the transition… Keeping the faith

Stephanie Laurens, in her keynote address at the recent RWA conference, gave a speech worth reading, where she discusses the changes in the business of writing/publishing and the resulting opportunities for writers. Click here and enjoy! 



A thought on Villians

If your villian starts working against the hero instead of for themselves, then something has gone wrong. Keep the villain’s motivation consistent and away from being plot driven. They need to have their own goals, which just happen to be in opposition to the hero’s goals.

Nine Questions


Uta Hagen was a well known acting teacher who taught acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio. Below are the questions she taught generations of students to answer for each character study in order to define their roles. I think they can be as valid for fiction writers as actors:

1.  WHO AM I?  (All the details about your character including name, age, address, relatives, likes, dislikes, hobbies, career, description of physical traits, opinions, beliefs, religion, education, origins, enemies, loved ones, sociological influences, etc.) 
2.  WHAT TIME IS IT?  (Century, season, year, day, minute, significance of time)
3.  WHERE AM I?  (Country, city, neighborhood, home, room, area of room)  
4.  WHAT SURROUNDS ME?  (Animate and inanimate objects-complete details of environment) 
5.  WHAT ARE THE GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES?  (Past, present, future and all of the events) 
6.  WHAT IS MY RELATIONSHIP?  (Relation to total events, other characters, and to things)  
7.  WHAT DO I WANT?  (Character’s need.  The immediate and main objective
8.  WHAT IS IN MY WAY?  (The obstacles which prevent character from getting his/her need)  
9.  WHAT DO I DO TO GET WHAT I WANT?  (The action: physical and verbal, also-action verbs) 
I think  I might be presumptuous and divide up #7. In my opinion, what the character wants and what they need are usually two different things. The conscious and the subconscious goals are not often in alignment, especially in storytelling.
I’d love to hear if you have something to add to the list. Something that helps you figure out your characters?

The 2012 Page International Screenwriting Awards – Update

Oh my gosh! We made it into the Quarter Finals! There are 664 finalists left in the running, from 5176 entries. Not a bad achievement for a first screenplay. I’m smiling! Check it out here.

And now to force my mind back to writing… I have a blurb to write today, and Marina and I have a novel to finish by Tuesday!

“Your time is limited, so…

…don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” ~ Steve Jobs

Inspirational Quote of the…

… undefined time period. 

“In the afternoons, Gertrude Stein and I used to go antique hunting in the local shops, and I remember once asking her if she thought I should become a writer. In the typically cryptic way we were all so enchanted with she said, ‘No.’ I took that to mean yes and sailed for Italy the next day.”

~ Woody Allen

Creativity Crusher: Fear of Uncertainty

My thought today: it seems like I really like it when things make sense. If something is chaotic, unknown, amorphous, I have a hard time with it. I ache to get in there to tame, understand, and define. In other areas of life, of course, this isn’t such a bad thing. Order makes my family happy.

But then there is my art.

Art is born in a mishmash of chaos. What might seem like a lovely bit of fun from the outside is hiding characters that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, a plot that is muddled, metaphors that are jumbled, and a theme that only leaves me bewildered…

What I learned to do in the past, when I wasn’t so experienced with juvenile fiction, was to accept that things were going to get really messy before I even started to understand them. I learned to move ahead anyway, to get comfy with disorder, to embrace confusion.

Now that I’m starting a new genre, it seems I need to learn this all over again. Angel’s Flight is a far more complex story, and things will get a little wild. I need to accept that and relax into the craziness.  I need to keep in mind that that’s how the process works. And have fun with it too. Fun is good. 🙂