Success!

Two major things happened this week: I moved out of my Virginia Beach oceanfront paradise, and I sold an article. Both on the same day, ironically.

The article was kind of an experiment. I’ve toyed with the idea of submitting some of my work to publications, and actually sent a short story to a few mystery magazines when I was in high school (still have both rejection letters). 

So when I came across the magazine for a national association of estheticians, I thought maybe I can write for these folks. I have skin. I’ve learned some stuff about it.

So I pitched a few ideas, came up with an outline, and finally wrote the article on spec since I didn’t really have any other samples to show them. And they liked it! My article will be printed in the Sept/Oct issue, and I will officially have one writing sample! And a check!

This came as very welcome news, as I paused to take a break from stuffing all my earthly possessions into my Hyundai Elantra. The time has come to move to Los Angeles, but that means I must first move away from Virginia.

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My beach with a rainbow after a storm.

Living in Virginia Beach has been – in a word – delightful. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you find yourself needing a place to live for a few months during the off-season, consider wintering here. It’s really affordable, and there are still plenty of warm days between October and June.

Being here has given me space to sort of re-imagine my life as a writer. The ocean has beckoned to me when I was so wiped out and frustrated with my work that only toes dipped in the waves would help. It’s been a haven and an inspiration. And a launch pad.

And now it’s time to go! I left many new friends, a few old ones, lots of household items and a piano. A little piece of my heart. But it’s time.

I’m so excited about moving to California! I’m so glad to be moved out, because it’s soooo much work to move! But I will miss my little slice of oceanfront and the people that made it special.

And I’m really jazzed to sell my article.

It’s the Concept that Counts

Hurricane Sandy came and went. It did a lot more damage in other places, but Virginia Beach seems to have come out relatively unscathed.

The view from my balcony. Yes, I’m jealous of me too.

I just submitted my third writing assignment with ScreenwritingU, and I’m enjoying it immensely. The teaching style is so low-key and inspiring, and it motivates me to believe I can really do this. Which, after years of listening to experts explain how impossible and difficult it is, is really quite refreshing.

Not that I’m now throwing caution to the wind to dream the impossible dream. But the dream is a little less impossible these days.

Right now we’re working on high concepts. I became aware of the principle of high concepts a few years ago while reading Michael Hauge’s book, Writing Screenplays that Sell – the original edition, which was published a few decades ago. I learned that high concepts are nice, but not absolutely necessary in order to sell a script.

Well, like high-waisted pants, high concepts are back in fashion and I need to be good at creating them.

The idea is to tell a story that can be boiled down to one sentence that makes you say, “I wanna see that!” Kind of like back in the days when the only way people could find out about what’s playing was to look in the newspaper listing. No room for paragraphs of description, critical acclaim, or the trailers and clips you’ll find on movies.com nowadays.

‘Cause you know what movies don’t show up on movies.com? The ones that haven’t been produced yet. And if we unknown screenwriters want to cut through the slushpile and have our scripts read, purchased, and even produced, a high concept is the best place to start.

 

Becoming a Screenwriter

Pardon my long silence, it’s been a little nuts.

Next time I decide to sell my house and move 200 miles away, plus start a class, plus work for various clients with various deadlines while my editing system perpetually falls apart… please tell me I’m crazy. I will believe you.

No campus or frat parties, but that’s OK.

 

Be that as it may, I’m determined to become a screenwriter. So I’ve been downsizing my life to focus on the next six months of training with ScreenwritingU, a highly recommended professional screenwriter training program.

With any luck, I’ll come out of this a much better writer and better positioned to make a living doing it!

Plus I will be here:

Buckle up, landlubbers! Tomorrow it begins!