November 2nd, 2017
I've long been a fan of science fiction and fantasy stories, whether told in books, films or television programs. "Modern classics" (yes, that's an oxymoron) like Dune, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and, more recently, the adventures of Harry Potter, have not only allowed me to travel to other worlds in my mind, but also sparked my imagination and desire to create stories and worlds of my own.
I've been writing screenplays for many years but, inspired and encouraged by my wife's journey in learning to write and self-publish her novel (Robin's Nest by Erica Jordan, available on Amazon), I became more interested in exploring the long form myself. Screenplays are all about brevity, about telling a story in a very streamlined and sparse fashion that allows producers, directors, actors and other collaborators to add their own take to the skeletal structure the writer has created. It's more about what's left out than what's put in.
Novels, on the other hand, afford an author the freedom to fill space. Not meaning that a writer shouldn't be economical or selective with his or her words, but simply that novels require a greater depth of description. The writer must lay out the world and the characters in rich detail to allow readers to paint a picture in their minds in lieu of one projected on a movie or TV screen.
Having now written and published my first novel, I find that I enjoy the medium a lot, primarily because it allows for a fuller expression of my vision than screenwriting does. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing scripts very much. But I'm also a director and a designer, having worked on effects and storyboards for several science fiction and action films over the course of my career in the film industry.
So, in writing a novel, I find the process satisfies several of my interests at the same time. The characters are like actors I'm directing and, when fully realized, they collaborate by "telling" me what they need to say to be true to themselves. I have to design the worlds I create in order to provide descriptions of locations to my readers. I even get to play director of photography to some degree because my descriptions need to include a sense of mood, movement, framing and lighting.
In addition, should I be fortunate enough to one day turn my novels into movies, a fleshed-out blueprint will already exist that can help to inform every department from the studio executives to the crew and everyone in between.
I've loved writing for many years now but, in creating this series of novels, my passion for writing has greatly expanded and is already generating ideas for several other books, some that will "spin off" from the Shards series, and others that will stand on their own.
I'm also excited to share my writing process with all of you in this blog, not only as a way of engaging with my readers and creating community, but also in the hope that, if anyone is afraid to undertake their own journey toward becoming a published writer, they might be encouraged to learn, as I have, that the best way to work through that fear is to simply keep writing.
November 3rd, 2017
You often hear the phrase, "Write what you know." While I think it's a good idea to draw from your own experience to some degree, because it can help your writing feel authentic, I believe it's more important (or at least as important) to "Write your passion."
If I'm passionate about a subject or a story, I find it will drive me to find out what I need to know to make my writing authentic. It's called research.
One of the things I love most about tackling a new story is that I'm often required to do a ton of research on a subject I may know almost nothing about. I sometimes spend hours, days or even weeks in research so that I have at least a basic knowledge of the topic so I can write about it with a degree of intelligence.
For me, the high of completing a story is equal to the education I get from doing the research. My passion to tell the story drives me to find the information in fun, creative ways so it's never boring. It's like home schooling myself while exercising my imagination. Personally, I think there's no better way to learn.
November 6th, 2017
I'm a non-linear writer. If I get an idea for a scene in chapter three while I'm still working on chapter one, I'll start writing that new scene while it's fresh in my mind, otherwise, I might forget the details. I don't care if I need to change the scene when I finally link it with chapters one and two because there will usually be at least some element that will remain that really works and can act as a springboard to the following chapters.
Conversely, I often find that I'll invent something in a later scene that will require me to go back and set it up in the previous chapters.
Like they say, 99% of writing is rewriting. This saying is true, by the way.
November 14th, 2017
I don't believe in writer's block. I understand that sometimes, you might not be sure how to move forward in a story, but to me, figuring that out is part of the natural process. I may have stopped typing on the computer or jotting notes on a pad, but I'm always thinking about the story. That's still writing.
This is one of the things I think a lot of non-writers don't get. They often think that if we're not scribbling madly in notebooks or pounding a keyboard in the local coffee shop that we're just goofing off or staring into space with nothing going on upstairs.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In my opinion, most writing takes place in the mind before it ever gets committed to paper or computer screen. And it takes time. Lots and lots of time.
When writers tell friends and family that they need time to write, it could mean a few minutes, a few hours, or even days, weeks or months. Unbroken focus is crucial to crafting a story. Your friends, if they're truly your friends, will understand that you may need extended isolation on a regular basis.
Anyway, if you do get stumped, one trick that can break the mental logjam is to write about the block; how you feel about the experience, what sensations or perceptions are happening at that moment. Before you know it, you're flowing again. It's worked for me on more than one occasion.
December 4th, 2017
For me, writing is like having a time machine. I can sit down at my computer and start writing in the morning and, before I know it, it's lunch time. Somehow, hours fly by like minutes and suddenly, the morning is history and I'm in the future. The irony is, when I look at what I've written, it may only be a page or two, sometimes only a few lines, as though I did start writing only minutes ago.
It's a fascinating paradox. I believe it happens because when you're in a state of passion, you're truly living in the moment, in a sort of timeless "now."
February 1st, 2018
Well, here it is, already a month into the new year! I hope everyone's holidays were warm and cozy. Nocturnal, book two of the "Shards" series, is proceeding slowly, as is the first book in the Peculiar Pearl series, "Peculiar Pearl and the Calico Cat."
I'm very excited about both projects and looking forward to bringing new stories and characters into being over the course of this year.
In addition to running our Zia Films production company, my wife, Erica, and I are also very excited about our new business, Boggled LLC. We started it to create escape rooms, a form of entertainment in which groups of friends are "locked" in a room designed to immerse them in a story, and in which they must find clues and solve puzzles to escape within one hour.
Escape rooms began in Japan in 2012 with a single room and, at present, there are nearly 3,000 escape rooms around the world. We've visited several escape rooms in the Los Angeles area. They're not only great fun, but also inspire team building and clear communication. We highly recommend them!
We're now in development on our first escape room, a mystery called "The Curious Case of Henrietta Holloway," and we're looking forward to opening our Boggled facility in LA in about two months. Fingers crossed, we'll be able to expand by adding new rooms and themes as the business grows. We'll soon have a dedicated Boggled website where players can book the escape room experience with their friends. Stay tuned for updates!
The Oscars are almost upon us once again. Did you have a favorite movie this year? Mine was "The Shape of Water." Which film do you think deserves to win "Best Picture?"
Finally, we're also developing a musical play that we're very excited about! Unfortunately, it's a secret for now, but hopefully, come the fall, I'll be able to tell you about it. I'll say this: It's definitely never been done before!
All these projects keep me very busy and I don't have as much time as I'd like to post updates here in The Notebook. But I'll do my best to stay relatively current with progress reports on all our doings.
Once again, I wish everyone a very happy 2018 and amazing journeys on wherever your passion may take you!