Nicholas Reicher

Writing Your Next Blockbuster Film or Novel

Month: March 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

I Hate My Book

Two of my books I was hampered with by the face that book Number Two was so good.

Book three I hated, until about 90% done with it. suddenly, I had it in a place where I finally didn’t hate it any more.

The problem I guess is something everyone goes through when you write a book, and it’s really, really good. I had drama, death, pain, tears,… I mean, book two had it ALL. Even sheer terror and excitement.

When you hate your book, you have two choices – trash it and start over, or keep plugging until you like it.

I chose with book three to keep going. There was so much CONFLICT. I’m sure that makes for a tense book.

So, I had to really drag the reader through the mud for most of the book, before picking them up again.

Hopefully, it worked.

If you’re a writer, how do you get through it? If you feel like your book is simply not what you wanted, make snapshots with Scrivener, and start over. If you feel like it’s going in the wrong direction, then evaluate – can I save this? Or should I just delete, and start over again?

Don’t be afraid to simply throw away what’s not working. But save it in a backup! Because you may suddenly figure out in two years how to do it!

Locations For My novel

When I was writing my first novel, I had to pick a location. I was tempted to place it in Ontario. But I realized quickly, looking at a map (which is how Carpenter, the lead character would have done it) that the exit route determines the location. I needed to be able to leapfrog medium size boats from Canada to Baffin Island to Greenland to Iceland to Europe, and then bounce down to the English Channel, to Spain, into the Med, then finally into the Middle East.

So, that ruled out Northern Ontario. That would have added a near-impossible route out through the Hudson Bay. I mean, my characters are making that trip, but when you look at how much farther north they’re going…

So, my people’s end up settling in an area in Northern Quebec. It’s roughly level with Labrador, and it’s called Nunavik. It’s so sparsely populated that Canadians actually confuse it with Nunevut, on the west coast.

This meant pouring over Google Earth, zooming in as best as I could. I actually found a spot (and I marked down the long-lat somewhere, but can’t find where!) they would go. The area’s ideal, from aerial photography. The tree cover is so dense that you could be dancing in all flourescent colors waving flags, and a helicopter circling above wouldn’t see you. There’s streams and small lakes circling it. If you look at Nunevik, you’ll spot a heart shaped lake about 50 miles south of it. Lake Maurice is to the southwest, about another 50-75 miles.

Now, what Carpenter would have done is look at the terrain once he got to the location, and chosen a fairly flat location with a higher ridge to the south, and hills to the North, allowing them something to circle around in case of pursuit. That seems to describe every 30 feet in Nunevik.

If you’re a survivorman fan, be aware that every place Les Stroud was in the Boreal Forest was far to the south. Apparently, where I’m sending my people, there’s no surviving except on the coast.

Feel free to visit. Then again, you can simply go sit in the woods somewhere more accessible, and get the same feeling. Bring hot dogs.

Movie Review Patton

Well, then. This was a movie I used to watch with my dad, who was Special Forces Vietnam with the Marine Corps. As far as I know, he was the only US Marine attached to a special group normally made of paratroopers and airborne rangers.

Anyway, my dad and I used to watch Patton, and my dad would lecture me as if I was the Officer Class at the Navy War College. I learned HUGE amounts about military history, combat, and etc. And one thing my dad said really stuck with me: “Patton was too good for the Army. He should have been in the Corps.”

The story of Patton showed me that brute competence often fails in the face of vanity and squawking. Incidentally, the reason I have a disdain for Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery is that his accomplishments failed to rise to his own pomp and expectations. Montgomery was convinced that given all the material, men, munitions and support, he could single-handedly win the war. And every time they gave him that chance, he managed to get thousands of men slaughtered, and crawl for 50 yards a day.

When Patton was given a fraction of the same consideration, he very often flew for 50 miles a day.

It was no wonder that General Frank McCarthy decided he was going to make a movie that would vindicate Patton.

Ready for some trivia about the movie?

  • General Bradley and McCarthy were standing there watching the first screen test where George C. Scott put on Patton’s uniform for the first time. “It was George Scott one minute, and George Patton the next.” Was how Bradley described it. It’s not the makeup or the uniform that does it. Sheer talent as an actor, something woefully missing today, is what did it.
  • All of the equipment was genuine. Every last airplane, tank, jeep and artillery was authentic World War 2 equipment. The soldiers were all Spanish, since Spain had been given all of the war surplus material at the end of world war 2, mostly in a reparations method after the Spanish Civil war, where Hitler had tested all of his various designs.
  • The first day of filming, George Scott sat in his trailer unable to move until one in the afternoon. He was in dread panic about his ability to play the part. He then went out at 1 in the afternoon, and by 4, they’d completed the shooting schedule.
  • The role of Hauptmann Steiger was invented by Coppola for the purpose of getting exposition into the movie.
  • The King Tiger scene almost went horribly wrong. The soldier who is run over has to pull his hand back quickly to avoid it being crushed by the tank treads.
  • There’s a scene where the Battle of the Bulge is being planned. Karl Mulden was playing Omar Bradley, and apparently they needed one more shot of everyone at the table… but Mulden couldn’t be found. So… Omar Bradley put on the coat Mulden had been wearing, and sits down for the filming. See if you can spot it.
  • One war scene was filmed when the Spanish Army decided enough was enough, and at 2 in the afternoon abruptly left the set to go get lunch. As the men marched off in the snow, the director started setting off explosions in the snow as if they were being shelled, and the panicky run of the soldiers is not faked.
  • The Patton family attended the first showing of the movie, and Scott’s portrayal of Patton was so convincing it reduced his son to tears.
  • The first actor the studio had approached to play Patton quit after reading the first draft of the script, mostly over the weird reincarnation references and the intro scene of Patton in front of the flag.
  • George SCott was opposed to opening the movie with the first scene. His complaint was not that it was weird, but that he felt the performance required was too “high” for him to maintain the entire rest of the movie, and he felt if that was how they wanted to do it, they should have filmed it first instead of last, so he could have done a better acting job!
  • George Patton had only one butt cheek, due to a serious injury he’d gotten in world war 1. They should have put a flat piece of plastic in Scott’s pants to show that.
  • The jeep driver in the “Cartheginian” scene is actually Chet Hanson, the personal aide of Omar Bradley.
  • One of the German Generals is actually the director of cinematography.
  • The camera system (Dimension 150) used for Patton was used only for one other movie: The Bible.
  • There are three distinct elements to the theme for Patton: Reincarnation, Praying Man,and Warrior.
  • Coppola wrote the movie based upon the book by Codman. The studio had purchased two other books instead.
  • George Scott’s nose is modified with clay to give the Patton “chiseled feature.”
  • The original script written by Coppola used as much authentic dialogue as he could find from the books he had on Patton.

The telling moment about Patton is not in the movie Patton, but actually in “A bridge too far”. Field Marshal Rundstedt is debating with Field Marshall Model about who will lead the assault on Holland. Model looks up, and with obvious distaste in his voice, says.. “Patton.”

Rundstedt nods. “It will be Patton, I would prefer Montgomery, but of course, Eisenhower is not that stupid.”

Eisenhower would indeed choose Montgomery.

Possible Project

You know, I’ve got an admission to make. I’ve got a project which keeps popping in my head. I know a lot of History, and certain people in history to me are irresistible. The history of Balthasar Hubmeier really needs a Mel Gibson to direct it, but he never would. It would take some serious convincing to get him to do it. If you know who Balthasar Hubmaier is, you’d know why.

But, there’s a pivotal person in history that I remain fascinated with, because I could see how a biography movie of him would be a HUGE epic story, since after all his life was a huge epic story. By this I mean Tokugawa.

Yes, I said Tokugawa. Ieyasu Tokugawa. Changed his name seven times, his parents taken from him early on, forced to be a hostage until he was fourteen, then expected to go and immediately be the Daimyo (samurai lord) of his family. You can almost see the fourteen year old’s thoughts at that point. “I can be Shogun.”

The future of Asia was almost set in stone from that moment. History had conspired to make him strong almost from birth. If you attempt to show the humanness of Tokugawa and Ishida as well as the might and power of both… it would make a compelling movie.

I’ve got an article on how to write a movie script in 30 days. At some point, I’m going to do it, and the subject may well be Tokugawa, because I’m a real nerd for Military history. And while I’m aware that there was a book and TV movie made about James Clavell’s book “Shogun”, it truly falls VERY short of the power and majesty any movie about Tokugawa should elicit.

And of course, prior to filming, one would need to sit with the head of the Ishida clan and the Tokugawa clan and get permission. You can proceed without it, but hey, POLITENESS is everything in Japanese society.

Contour

Tried a different program the other day. It’s intended for Script development, but actually, you can use it for novels as well. A good way to describe Contour is like a budget Dramatica, but the way they explain things is… well… much more usable.

Dramatica is an essential program, in my opinion. Highly priced, but outstanding. The only issue is, the interview process they give you is not complete (when you poke through your story in Dramatica, you’ll see what I mean), and the descriptions on what story element you’re filling out is lacking. I suppose despite my high IQ, I should get the Dramatica for Dummys book at some point.

If you’d like to try something similar to Dramatica, but relatively inexpensive, give Contour a try. Mariner Software also has a screenwriting program that’s inexpensive (at this point, I’ve got Fade In and not likely to get something else unless I suddenly get a lot of disposable money, and in that case it’ll be Final Draft), a character creation software, novel writing software and more.

Day Off

zzzzzzzzz

Scrivener Tweaks

One of the things I undertake when using a piece of software, is very shortly after using it, I try to learn all of the tweaks you can do to make it more usable. I understand most people don’t do this. But I went to college at one point for computer programming, got disillusioned and quit.

So I know something about software environment. There’s usually two ways to do everything, and there’s usually features built in to software that the programmer knows the average person wil not use, but they will.

Scrivener is kind of unusual in that the programmer gives you access to those hidden features. I’m hampered by my personal choice of a PC instead of a Mac, as the programmer for Scrivener decided to not carry over two very important features to the PC version, the “Words by date” feature and the “Compare snapshots” function.

So, Meta-Tags. That was the first question I had. They’re there for something. Keywords and Meta-Tags.

Ah. A quick search of the videos on the L&L website shows me that Meta-Tags allow you to track certain things . Like what? What do you want to track?

Character, POV, Scene, Date. Since my books are deadline-centered, I can track what characters are in what scenes, whose POV it is, where it is, and WHEN it is. Now, you go to the Scrivenings view (icon 3), and click on the little square above the drag line… and add those meta-tags into your view.

Voila! (pronounced “Walla”)! Now you can track those things! You may have to restart your Scrivener to be able to enter the meta-tag info in all three views, but now you can track that.

Then I found that under views, you can apply the color schemes for “scene”, “Chapter” “Character” to your left hand column. COOL! “View”>”Use Label Color inh”>”Binder” & “Icons”. So in other words, you can choose Binder (The left hand column) and icons. Play with it, choose all four, decide what you like, decide what you don’t like. You may go back and forth on it per project. more stimulus equals more creativeness, or less intrusive equals less distraction.

There you go! A couple of tweaks you can use!

Status!

Why do I give status updates? It prevents me from simply allowing my work to dwindle. I learned this from a course on time management. Set a deadline, and communicate that deadline to someone else.

Status reports on the deadlines help as well.

My first three books were written in Ywriter. It’s kind of a free version of Scrivener, but without the cork board and several other perks. And you can’t read the entire book (and edit the entire book) in context, the way you can in Scrivener.

So, recently, I’ve moved everything from my first novel into Scrivener, and I’m going through and taking snapshots of the book a scene at a time. This way, any changes I make, a publisher can say, “Actually, I like how you had it the first time”, and I can restore it with the click of a button.

Shortly, I need to get the second and third books into Scrivener.

I use the Cox cloud uploader to upload daily backups of my Scrivener and Ywriter files. Since I’ve switched to Scrivener, I probably can discontinue the use of the Ywriter. I know, I know, everyone is going to tell me I should use Mediafire or Dropbox, but I didn’t want to have to sign up for ONE MORE THING!

Deleted Scene 2

Check last Thursday for the first half of this… This was a scene I couldn’t fit into my story. What I didn’t tell you last week, this is raw. It’s not even first draft, but actually what left my fingers without any polish or tightening.

*****

Tariq inched the van forward. It was 8:07, and traffic was even more gridlocked than usual in Los Angeles. He briefly wondered if he’d made a mistake. If he got out of the van now and started running, he might make it. Might.

Or the police might find the device, and spread the warning. That would risk the entire event. Tariq knew now that to pull this off, his life was probably forfeit, He decided that this was the way it was going to be.

Tariq pulled onto South San Pedro Street, thumbs thumping the steering wheel in frustration. He was stuck behind a bus, and there was a family in the passing lane in a beat up car…just poking along. He was frustrated. He wanted to get closer to the city center before time ran out!

And then he saw the police car.

Officer Lightspeed watched the van weave. The driver kept looking back in the rearview mirror. That was normal, but Lightspeed’s every instinct, honed from years of street patrol in Los Angeles told him something was wrong. Very wrong. He reached up and flipped the switch, his lights beginning to rotate.

Tariq glanced back at the device. I’ve failed. He thought. He was still a mile out from the very heart of Los Angeles. Well, it will have to do. He thought.

The police officer tapped at the window, and Tariq rolled it down. “license and registration.” He said. Tariq pulled his wallet out. “Yes, of course.” he smiled. He saw the countdown on the device. 8:28…. There was no getting away now. Tariq was prepared to meet his destiny. He opened the glove box, papers spilling everywhere. Tariq smiled at the Police officer. He pulled the papers off the seat, and leafed through them. He handed the registration to the police officer.

“Where were you going?” The policeman wanted to know. Tariq glanced at the mirror. 8:29.

“Paradise, my friend.”

“I’m sorry?” The policeman looked very suspicious. 8:29:30

“To paradise, my friend. Allah awaits me.”

“What are you talking about?

8:29:45…

“Allah Akhbar….”

The police officer stepped back, drawing his weapon. Something is wrong…. He thought. Just then, Tariq raised his hands, a wide smile on his face…

…and the van exploded. The flash reached the officer, and he had a brief moment to think, “Jesus….” The officer felt the blast hammer him…..

The blast happened too fast. Anyone nearby had no time to react. The closest automobiles were turned into dust, and all buildings for two hundred yards were turned to ash. For the next three hundred yards, massive chunks were demolished from most buildings, the debris scattering. The pressure wave had begun.

Gilliard looked down at his cell phone to press the “2” key, the speed dial for his wife. He was looking up as the flash hit his eyes. “Oh, my Lord!” He was dazzled, but he had missed the flash by a critical second. He swerved the SUV, hitting another car and turning off his ignition. He popped the door open. “Get out of your cars! GET DOWN!!!!” He shouted. People panicked, but many obeyed him. They crawled up against a building, and hugged the pavement. “open your mouths, so the explosion doesn’t blow out your ears!” He shouted.

The sound hit them, powerful and loud. Gilliard was too busy praying. “Oh, Lord God, save my wife…” the pressure wave was intense. It felt like he was being crushed for a second. Then pain hit him as heat flowed over him, and they heard the crunching sound as debris began impacting the cars on the street. Shattering glass was the loudest noise, as the windows in the building above them shattered. Glass pieces began raining down around them….

The Inner Circle

Where did I get the numbers for the inner circle?

I’d already postulated that Controller and Lynch would be known more by their job designations. That’s from Three Days of the Condor, where a single CIA operative who served as contact with street operatives was known as Control.

Incidentally, that designation actually originally belonged to a man who monitored everything going on in the strangest TV series ever made, “The Prisoner.” Control was a bald man with glasses who ran the Village from the control room, clutching only a telephone. When Three Days of the Condor was written, they obviously borrowed the concept.

Mad Max also borrowed from The Prisoner. Australia became a form of the Village, except those living there were beginning to suffer from Madness. And the striped shirt thugs of The Prisoner became the police of Mad Max. The operator of their system was a scarred, bald man known as Control.

So, I know that the most effective organizations are run with one man at the top, and a group of three working for him.

The Organization would be run this way as well. Number One would run things, but I never gave him a name. The quorum beneath him, the Inner Circle, would be First, Second, Third. The other half would be Four, Five, Six.

You see the rank structure now. Obviously First has slightly more power and influence than Fourth.

So how did I come up with all this? I don’t know. I just started typing and it came out. I named one man Six automatically, when Controller had to call someone about events he was unsure of. He wasn’t happy with Six’s answers, and he had to call…

Who?

One? One would be in control. So… call…

First.

That’s how I came up with the Inner circle. Later on, I was able to make the mental connections you see above.

Sometimes Inspiration is accidental. well, with me, most of the time, i’m typing something, and it just comes out. When Lynch met someone, who would be a controller for the organization, I came up with the name Organization – because to them, there is only one Organization!

So someone would be Lynch’s Controller. What do I call him? Controller.

Simple. Now that’s several less names I need to come up with. And all the connections you just read about all came later!

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