WIP: Response from Launch Pad Competition

So I finally got a response to my entry. Needless to say, I did not place, but I am happy with the Notes I received. I submitted excerpts from my book and that seemed to be a bad thing. They said show them the action but I guess it was not to mean, literally, show action scenes only. Lesson learned!

I tried to streamline the novel to read more like a screen play but they said they want more background in the novel. Fair enough.

Lots of work to do. I have the background but need to figure out how to flesh out the story again but not weigh down the story’s flow.

I think what I will do is return to the first novel and rewrite it with these notes in mind. Then I will write the Pilot screenplay and outline the rest of the novel for a season one of the trilogy. Will try both Hollywood and book publishers again once that is done.

Here are the Notes they sent.  Hopefully it can help someone by showing things that industry folks look for. I can definitely see the benefit of going to school for this, but for some of us older folks, that is not practical.

I would love to hear what you feel these notes meant. Doesn’t hurt having a second opinion.

FeedbackNotes

The samples provided are excerpts or vignettes rather than a full 50 pages of straight text in the order of the story’s progressions so it’s difficult to get a good idea of the overall arc of the story and its timeline. A whole world is introduced in this story yet I don’t know what it looks like, the kind of time period the people are living in, the kind of technology they have available, etc. Unfortunately the sample lacks that set-up that establishes the world in which “Empires Fall” takes place.

As far as the excerpts are concerned, they contain intriguing scenarios and introduce compelling story arcs and characters, however often gloss over backstory which is necessary to build a foundation. For instance, in the first excerpt, “Arctic Icepack,” we’re told briefly that “Indrajit is a God anointed hero.” As well as that his comrade Zhenjin witnessed his anointing. However, this is glossed over in just three sentences. Perhaps there is more in an excerpt not included here, but the brief mention in the current scenario when the audience is already invested in Indrajit’s observation and attack on the researchers is distracting.

If more detail is not going to be provided to explain this here, its inclusion is confusing. It’s one thing to refer to Indrajit by a nickname, but wholly another to almost provide an explanation of the name which falls short.

Due to the structure of the sample, the time line of “EmpiresFall” is unclear, as are the main themes, tone, and the primary focus of the story. And due to the lack of detail, the excerpts come across as summaries of a larger story than as small pieces taken from an existing manuscript. Where is the detailed history of these two societies?Why are they at war, what are they fighting about?

Further, since we know so little about them/who they are, it’s difficult to invest in or care about what’s happening in the lives of the characters. For material to be capable of adaptation, especially from novel to film, there needs to exist a steady, broad foundation. Is the world of “Empires Fall” enticing and compelling? Are there characters that can carry such a weighty story?

As of now, the manuscript doesn’t offer a visually enticing presentation of this world (visual being the keyword, as film is a visual medium. Will “Empires Fall” translate to the screen?) nor does it offer a clear interpretation of the characters. How can this be improved? Include detail–focus on the description of the scenario (where are the characters, what does the scene look like how did they get there, what are their motivations, etc.) A narrative will almost always contain more than what is needed for the adaptation – the content of the film script has to come from some where. The back story of a narrative informs that script. “Empires Fall” also seems to get its inspiration from existing genre shows such as “Game of Thrones” which shows in some of the dialogue (e.g. Tilor’s name for Lena, “sun and moon” and the emphatic “by the gods” statements). While it’s perfectly fine to be inspired by existing content, be sure to give “Empires Fall” your own voice and flavor.

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In other news…

With the submission of my entry into the Launching Pad competition, that could have Hollywood and book publishers seeing my story, I have been waging an illogical war in my head. Should I prepare a synopsis of my other books or continue writing the books?

Being optimistic is definitely a necessary trait for what I want to do when I grow up but even I wonder if I am getting too far ahead of myself. I am happy to have put together an entry that I am rather pleased with submitting. I also ordered notes be sent back about my submission. Hopefully, quality notes that I can use to help me better my books and future entries.

The crux of the issue is, if I do have a lot of interest in my story, will they want a presentation of the full story (submitted book one synopsis) and how quickly will they want it.

Murphy’s Law is in total play here!  For those that might not be really familiar with this abhorrent law of nature, it basically means ‘what you least want to happen will happen.’

So if I do not prepare synopsis’ of books two and three and maybe a seasonal story arc for season one of a possible series, suicidal mania will prevail. They will love my story and be really excited but will want to move quickly and will need me to submit yesterday with no promise of payment.

You see the problem right? Being one of many that has that silly obligation called “A day job and bills to pay.” I can not just bar myself in a dark room and type until my fingers bleed. Bills and food be damned.

So write the synopsis’ right?

Well that leads me to the next level of my self-made hell. If I spend a lot of time working on that and nothing happens on the Hollywood front, I have taken away time from working on book two which I am a little more than half way through.  I imagine a book publisher would like to see the books finished, since they are interested in that kinda thing.

Yes, probably not a big problem when compared to so many other curve balls that life can throw our way. But in my totally optimistic frame of mind, I would love this to be a new career and this year to be start of that career.  So need to prepare but which one should I prepare for?

“It’s messing with my zen.”

 

 

Seat 14c Short Story Competition

http://seat14c.com/

Another competition to try for, especially since this one is free to enter. My luck, I have a hell of a time trying to load the website. The competition is sponsored by X-prize and ANA (All Nippon Airways). The premise is you are on ANA Flight 8 from Tokyo to San Francisco and your plane flies through a wormhole that sends you 20 years into the future.  Yup 2037.

You need to write a short story (between 2000-4000 word) about what you see there. They are asking for positive stories, so no post apocalyptic worlds. First person perspective too.

Here is the first part of my story.  I would be interested in what you think.  Draft version, so happy to hear how I screwed it up but would love for that to be gently done.

 

“Whoa” I said when the plane hit the turbulence. The lightning was terrible, the entire cabin was lit up and people were yelling. It wasn’t really that bad of turbulence, but enough to shake the nerves.

I looked around the business class seats and noticed the others were settling back in as well. Seasoned travelers we are. A few tightening of the seat belts but for the most part crew and passengers were getting back to normal.

The sun was trying to fight through the clouds to show a beautiful dawn sky ahead of us. The wave tops below sparkled like tiny diamonds in a sea of golden azure. It was a calm view to see after the last 30 minutes of the trip.  The last hour would prove to be very relaxing and then San Francisco.

I couldn’t wait to see my granddaughter again. Such cute cheeks and an irresistibly impish smile. My daughter’s daughter definitely. Lots of spoiling and hugs.

Wait, what is that?

In the distance a large ship was following the receding storm and there was a massive structure on the top of it. It looked like a large funnel. It couldn’t be that heavy or it would have capsized the ship, I imagine.  I wonder what that is for, I thought, pulling out my phone to snap a picture of it.

Never seen a ship like that before. Would need to research a little to see what it does. I continued to stare out the window enjoying the view when another weird scene sailed below. A weird blimp was flying over a ship. The blimp had large propellers on the top of it and looked to be matching the speed of the ship. I watched them for a while and yes, they were moving as one. I snapped a picture of that too.  What a weird day this was shaping up to be.

The landing announcement came over the speakers and the crew started preparing for landing. I looked ahead and saw more blimps over ships and then San Francisco. Something was weird, the skyline did not seem them same. Yes it has been a while since I have been back to the US but this really looked different.

What is up with the blimps?!

There were more blimps over the city, with the large propellers. I did not understand this, the US was not that into green energy last I heard. Grant it California was one of the leaders in the states but this?

More pictures snapped.

As we got closer to the airport, the more things looked out of place. Something was definitely not right. More people around me were questioning the strangeness of the situation.

A passenger in 12C said rather loudly, “I just left here two days ago and this ain’t right.” Others joined in saying how long they have been gone and agreeing on the strangeness. The cabin attendants looked on helplessly.

The Captain made an announcement. “This is the Captain speaking. Folks, something is going on and I am not sure what but we will be landing soon and can get answers then. Please be patient and prepare for landing.”

The landing was uneventful, but where we were landing was anything but uninteresting. The other planes were sharper, defined. Faster looking. Truly massive buildings dotted the skyline with too many flying craft wending through the buildings. That was weird, a few helicopters I can understand but planes or I guess they were planes?  

And those blimps, everywhere………………..

Launch Pad Manuscript Competition.

So getting down to the wire for the final entry. Missed my deadline for the previous submission deadline because I was not happy with the synopsis. I feel better about this one and thought I would ask all for thoughts on how it sounds.

Some notes on the format.  First time a major character is mentioned, the name is all in caps,  JIM. Afterwards it would be normal, Jim.

Also this synopsis is to be one page only. Reluctantly, I have used exactly one page so adding more material is not possible unless I remove stuff.  I will include 48 other pages of passages from the book. The goal is to get them excited enough with the synopsis to read the rest of the submission.

The passages from the book are sequential but not a complete progression through the story. I decided to take passages that hopefully would show the action of the story.

Lastly, I do identify this as book one of a trilogy.  So hopefully that will help.

Thoughts?

 

Empires Fall Synopsis

For 30,000 years, Atlantis grew from small city to global empire. Poseidon blessed them with the secret of Aether, which powers their advanced technologies. First coming as friends and teachers, many considered them as gods. Soon they started to believe they were gods and friendship turned to lordship.

An alliance grew to stand against them, led by the Empire of Rama. The Gods of the alliance favored their followers with heroes of great might to combat the technologies of Atlantis.

For 10 years war has raged across the Ice Age world. In the last year, Atlantis turns to Aether weapons of immense destructiveness.

RISOR, a vailixi squadron commander, finds himself fighting the enemy and JANA, his political rival. Her animosity peaks as he questions the wisdom of her leading a WMD strike against the Rama Empire home cities. This led to the Rama Empire retaliating.

With cities being destroyed, Rama’s capacity for war diminishes. A last ditch effort by Rama sends, INDRAJIT, a hero of Rama, to the Arctic ice packs. His mission is to breach the ice walls, in the hope the flood waters would doom Atlantis.

Woken in the middle of the night, Risor and the citizens of Altai flee for their lives. The floods inundate the coastal areas of the world, ruining Atlantis and most of their colonies.

Atlantis demands a recall of most military forces to strike back. An act that would leave most colonies defenseless. Many colonies refuse the order and rebel. SHANDAR, another squadron commander, leads his people in open revolt against Atlantis. While Risor’s people decide to abandon their city and hide. In the end, they both realize they can not openly fight their former masters.

ROGAT, an infantry officer, takes charge of a group of survivors, abandoned by Atlantis and chased by the enemy. They are chased to a mountain stronghold, where they are trapped.

With the empire in chaos, LENA, the girlfriend of Risor’s lieutenant, has her colony attacked by Greek raiders. She is taken as a slave. After rebuffing the Greek leader many times, he gives her to a cruel ally. She is spared being raped or worse by an attacking Atlantean force.

Jana is sent to Altai and discovers that Risor’s people have fled. Her forces quickly find Risor and in the climatic battle, Risor’s people bring down her vailixi. She realizes it is him but is unable to do anything. His people escape and while Jana rages impotently, her master recalls her to Atlantis for a new operation.

Competition Time!

There are those that say, keep your projects (books, scripts, etc…) secret because you might fail. Then there are those that say announcing it will help push you to complete it because of the fear of failure.  I like the second way.

A writing competition is being sponsored by Launch Pad by the Tracking Board that is bringing together book and movie houses to review entries. Luckily, you do not need a complete novel to enter. Even more luckily for me, I have a pretty complete novel to enter.

So, I need to come up with a name for the trilogy, select 50 pages of text, from the novel, as the entry submission and put together a one page summary, novel and possibly trilogy. All before the 30th of June. Will find out if I was lucky by mid September.

So if you ever wanted to write a book or have one in the works or completed, check out the link. Wish me luck!

From the web: Reading Level of Writing

So I am cruising through entries in an FB group “Writing Fiction”, using my best procrastination techniques and I come across this blog entry from Shane Snow, “This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write”. This article talks about how many of our great writers write at a middle school level for readability. This translates into higher comprehension and more enjoyment for the reader.

Basically don’t try to write to impress with big words that takes the average reader out of the story. If they have to try and understand the words then it is work and not fun.  The goal is to make it easy for the reader to comprehend the story and then visualize the action in their minds.  Make it easy for the reader to get into the story and stay there for as long as they are reading it.

Makes sense, right?

It is much more enjoyable to use your imagination to see “Chief Grog, swings his mighty club and with a booming thud smashes the knight backwards. The man flies back into the cavern’s wall and crumples to the ground.”

Than something like: “The leader of the orc tribe, Grog, uses a cudgel, in a round house swing, to impart a massively kinetic blow to the chest region of the hapless armored knight.  The forward momentum of the knight was viciously reversed, resulting in the man being thrown backwards, into the wall with bone crushing force.”

For many the second passage might be just as easy to understand. Some might even like the additional detail but it also takes more away from the imagination because it actually details more thoroughly what is happening. This additional detail, with the use of some words that might not be common enough, could stop the flow of the story for the reader and force them to confront the literary reality of reading a story, than living it.

I have read many blogs and articles talking about how the writer should just say enough to give the read the foundation to create the picture in their mind. I like this goal of striving for low detail scenes, for the reader to flesh out.

Well with so much energy going into a blog entry, I should be able to bust out the last few passages of book 1 of my trilogy.  Have a great weekend!

Log Lines for My Projects

So I have hit a writer’s block on my “When Atlantis Fell” novel. Instead of continuing to stare at the screen and hope the novel will write itself, I decided to try something else.

I have a few projects I am working on. Mostly at lunch, when I am bored of the Atlantis story or when I day-dream about the one of the stories and I just have to write something.

My exercise today will be around Log Lines. Why not try out a few log lines for each of the current works. A log line being a short 20-60 word description for the story. These are the first things that agents and producers would look at.  For many folks, consider it the elevator pitch.

While most of these are not ready for prime time, if any of them really strike you, please let me know.  Maybe the Atlantis stories are not the ones I should be primarily working on.

Title: When Atlantis Fell    (trilogy)

Book 1: A squadron commander becomes the unlikely leader of a break away colony from war ravaged Atlantis. The problem is Atlantis is not willing to let go and sends his rival to hunt him and the rebels down.

Book 2: The rebuilding of Atlantis brings about the death of many old ways. Some in the military believe that includes the emperor and the remnants of those who pushed for peace. The fiery commander who chased down rebels, will now lead the fight with the old guard.

Book 3: With the destruction of Atlantis and the new government installed at Luxa, the job of hunting down and retaking the rebel colonies is given to Jana. The rebels know Luxa will not let them go and decide to band together to attack Luxa before they are too strong.

Title: WormHole Earth Universe, no title yet.

She was just an astrophysicist working for the Explorer’s Guild, mapping out new star systems. Until she vaguely remembers discovering an alien race. Then her world becomes a desperate race to remember what happened and, hopefully, why someone wants to kill her.

Title: Empire Earth – working title.

Earth’s supposed friends are not so friendly, as found out by a young scientist on his way to a galactic academy for new space faring races. Unable to mind his own business, the scientist struggles to find a way to get a message back to warn Earth.

Title:  Saviors

They came and slapped Earth into order. They taught us many technologies and let us explore the nearby systems. Then the truth came out. They were running from a more powerful race and we were just cannon fodder to slow the enemy down. Until we decided not to be.

Title: The Last Artist

In the world of Kotor, artist can create masterpieces of magical power. Each one takes part of their soul and after the last one is made, they die. In time, unscrupulous nobles made artists create masterpieces for them with no concern for the artist’s life. So they went into hiding. One young swordmaker was discovered. He and his companions decided to stand and fight rather than run and hide.

Another Idea for Writing

How to get my works seen by as many people as possible?

I think this is a question that many writers face. The more you try to market your book the less time you have writing the next one.  Of course, the more you write, the less chance others will see your work. There are just too many choices out there.

You need to write a good story, have an eye-catching cover and tons of good luck.  What else can help?

Well, a marketing plan helps. Getting your book in front of as many people as possible helps. The more that see your work the more chance of having someone purchase your book. It is getting people to see your book, that is the hard part.

I am not an internet marketing genius and kinda lazy to boot. I have tried to build followings on Twitter or Facebook but do not seem to have much success. So I wanted to try another way.

I have submitted my story (revised) to Hollywood to see if that works. So far that isn’t working either. It is still only a few weeks since I submitted my query letter, so not sure where that leaves me. I thought that if I can get someone to go for my story, I might be able to sell more books.  That still might work but maybe in the future.

One of the things I have read many times from many writers was to keep writing. Write more stories to get more chances for a reader to see your work. If a reader enjoys one book, there is a good chance they might buy another and another. I like this approach because I can keep writing. I still need readers to find my stuff among all the others but this is more what a lazy person like me would enjoy.

Taking a note from a youtube video from S. J. Scott about using Kindle Publishing, the goal is to produce a lot of books and share the news. What I plan on doing with this idea would be to keep writing my full length novels but also take time to create shorter novellas/novelletes about some of the background histories.

With Atlantis and the Wall of Destruction, I mention that Atlantis has been around for 30,000 years. That is plenty of events to write about in short stories or novellas. I will take some of these stories and turn them into 20-60 page booklets that I can put out via Kindle Publishing. They will have under one dollar pricing and will refer back to the major novels.

Hopefully, if people like these stories, then they will continue to buy other stories of mine.  These smaller booklets will be part of my marketing plan to get readers to read the larger novels. I believe this strategy is something that many writers could do. Many probably have additional stories or plot lines that they removed from the published novel because of one reason or another. If afterwards, they develop those stories, then they could create additional income streams and have multiple chances for readers to see their work.

To summarize. Do no just write a story. Create the world and build around the main story you want to tell.  Use these other stories to add to your marketing efforts. On the ocean of books to read, one book is but a small ripple to notice. Many books becomes a wave that gets noticed.