Nicholas Reicher

Writing Your Next Blockbuster Film or Novel

Month: July 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

Seven Scrivener Tweaks

I’ve got a couple of followers who are writers themselves, so… here’s some Scrivener tweaks that will help out a lot!

  1. Where are you backing up to? If you haven’t specified a directory for Scrivener to back up to, it’s not backing up. it’s just overwriting what you just saved. Make a directory in Dropbox called “Scrivener backups”. Set all of your Scrivener projects to backup to that directory. After you do the first one, the rest seem to default to that. The backups are saved in a dated zip file.
  2. Keywords. These are not project keywords – I’ll deal with that next – but these are keywords. Enter keywords like “Location”, “characters, “POV”. Now when you go to Scrivenings view (third icon), theres a scroll bar with a little box at the top. Click that box, and you’ll see the keywords you just entered. You now can track who what when where why how all tracked in your Scrivenings view. Make sure you check the “word count” option, so you can see your word count per scene.
  3. Project Keywords. Okay, I just found this one recently. Under the Project menu, there is an option. project keywords. Enter in all of your major and minor characters. You can edit the little color dots – make sure you do, so that the colors are all distinct. Now, in the inspector, click on the key icon, and… (two ways – number one) click on the plus icon, and type in the name of a character in that scene. (way number two) click on the wheel and open the project keywords box, and drag the names of all the characters in that scene into the keyword box in the inspector. Why? Go to your corkboard, and look at the right hand side of every notecard! You now can see at a glance who’s in your scenes!
  4. Full Screen. I make Scrivener all colorful. But when I’m trying to concentrate on a scene, I go to full screen to start typing. You can choose a backdrop to it, or leave it black. Try both. See what makes you more productive. You can also make it translucent, so you can see your scrivener underneath it. Choose what you like. Or constantly change it. The idea is, to see what makes you more creative, and sometimes changing the display makes you more creative.
  5. Apply icon colors to… This one’s a favorite. The plain Scrivener looks good, but i like to see it more colorful. So, I apply the icon colors to almost everything. Chapters are Green, scenes are blue. Make SURE you’re taking advantage of the labels to determine “chapter” and “scene”. this is how Scrivener is set up, to deal with them in this manner.
  6. Icons – you can add icons to Scrivener, and apply those icons to a scene. I don’t do this, but apparently some people love this. You just have to install icon sets to Scrivener, and then apply them to each chapter-scene.
  7. Cover Creator – This only works in the “Compile to epub” format. Of course, you have to make your own graphic for the cover. I played with it a little, but right now, I’m working on writing and editing,and not ready to self publish.

These should get you started! What Scrivener tweaks have YOU discovered?

For the Book reader III

How does your favorite author come up with ideas? I talked two days ago about how they train themselves to look for ideas.

Then yesterday I explained the process.

But where do the ideas come from?

An idea you love.

A place you think is amazing.

A place like a mountain. It’s cool mountain.

Why is it cool?

Because…. um… there’s a guy on it. And he’s… going to throw off everyone who climbs it?

No… um…

Because someones trying to kill him. The key is, he doesn’t know who it is. So he gets into a mountain climbing party with all of the suspects.

And the killer is going to kill them all one at a time, until they find out who it is.

All you need is something that sticks in your head. A boat. A house. A man with a knife.

sometimes its a situation, like the germ of an idea I have for a novel. “a Waffen SS officer who is Hitler Youth is subverted at the end of World War II into Odessa, and then into the shadow government as an assassin.”

That’s really not enough. But it’s enough to get it stuck in your head.

What if that job is very competitive/ Then I have to make it so that there’s several rivals for the job. And only one is getting it.

Or what if he’s assigned the job of killing a political figure? How do I get you to root for him?

Or do I want you to? What if I want you to fear him, and fear instead for the safety of the political leader?

What if the shadow government wanted Hitler to succeed, so they’re going to use this Hitler youth man to punish Winston Churchill? Or what if he goes after Charles DeGaulle?

What if it’s President Eisenhower? Dwight D? See, I can turn that idea a hundred ways! I just have to find the one I like! And if I decide I want it to be a series, then I can make it so I’ve got three or four of these kinds of things. That way, I don’t have to decide… I can just do them all!

I can tell you, i’m not interested in writing a book that makes you root for the villain.

Okay, now, what if I combine both ideas at once? There’s several hit men, all going after President Eisenhower, or Winston Churchill, or any other British Prime Minister, like Margaret Thatcher? And the cold as ice former Hitler Youth man has to keep himself alive, eliminate the competition, and try to kill the Prime Minister all at the same time? That’s getting chilling, because the Prime Minister is doomed, unless someone – a protagonist – actually is there to stop it!

Okay, now you have a novel.

THAT’s how your favorite author gets ideas.

For the Book Reader II

“It’s about a guy who…”

Want to know how the writer came up with the idea? Writers love to tell their stories about what PROMPTED the idea. But here’s how it ALWAYS happens…

describe the book to a friend. “It’s about a guy who is in a family on a planet that’s the only source for this spice everyone needs to live a long time. If they stop taking the spice, they don’t live as long. And the people on this planet look at the son of the family, and he’s the coming one they’ve spoken of for centuries. When someone tries to kill his family, he and his mother escape into the desert, and hide with the people on this planet. And he finds out he really is the coming one they’ve been waiting for. Together, they take on an empire.”

There you go. That’s how Frank Herbert wrote Dune. That’s called a synopsis. If Frank Herbert had yWriter or Scrivener, he’d have written all of the Dune novels before he died.

Write a syopsis of your favorite book. Better yet, just tell a friend what the book’s about. That’s a synopsis. That’s how the author wrote the book. “It’s about a guy who…”

condition. “lives on a planet that makes this spice…” or, “inherits the one ring that the evil lord needs to conquer the world.” or, “has a rapidly emptying cup of coffee…”

Environment… “the people on the world look at the son and think….” or “they’re sent on a quest where they have to travel south to the evil lord’s land” or, “Has to get up and walk downstairs quietly and turn on the coffeemaker…”

Goal. “Together with the desert dwellers, he begins a rebellion that takes on the empire” or “teaches Darth Vader to tap-dance” or whatever.

This is by no means all that goes into it. But this shows the process. tomorrow, I’ll talk about HOW to get the idea.

For the Book Reader

How does your favorite author get ideas?

I think that’s the most often asked question by readers.

I literally have more ideas than time to write! Where do I get them?

Ideas are like loose change. When you’re looking for them, you trip right over them. Every buy a particular car, and as you drive around town, you’re suddenly seeing them everywhere? It doesn’t mean that everyone bought one the same day you did – you’re just open to seeing them now.

Authors train themselves to look for ideas.

I often will see something that I think is interesting. Within minutes, I’m turning it around in my head, like picking up a rock. Since a lot of my first seven books all concern survivalism, I spend time looking at Cheaper Than Dirt catalogs. Tents. Ammo cans. Backpacks. Knives. Multitools. Fire starters.

I can honestly say I like the Magnesium stick a lot better than the flint striker – but I can say the flint striker probably lasts a lot longer.

Pick that flint striker up. Hold it. Think about how you’d attach it to a belt, or clip it onto a backpack. In a cargo pocket.

Now your imagination comes in, as you picture a man hunched over a tinder bundle, trying to start a fire with the flint striker. It’s cold, wet. The fire is not starting. Ever tried to really start a fire with one? THat’s some tension.

So, let’s make it REALLY tense. The fire won’t start. It’s getting darker, colder. You need that fire NOW! Why? Maybe you fell into a river. The water had tinges of ice in it. You’re soaked through. And trying to start a fire. Because you’re going to have a really rough night you probably won’t survive if you DON’T get that fire going!

I had an idea for a book back in the 90’s, where a man wakes up, and everyone is missing all around him. I’d forgotten about it, but saw 28 Days Later years in the future, and a co-worker said to me, “of course you like it! It was your story they stole!”

The reason you don’t have ideas is because you haven’t trained yourself yet! That’s the only reason. I could teach an entire seminar on writing ideas.

What grabs you? What idea can you just not let go of?

A single idea is enough.

Japanese Monster Movies

Okay, it’s no secret I’m a Godzilla fan. Here’s a fun fact most of you aren’t aware of.

Japanese monster movies are often ridiculed in America for low budgets and bad acting. Guess what? I’m going to argue the second part.

What’s bad is the voice overs. Very often, a heavier set individual intended as comic relief tends to have a sing-song baritone voice. So, voice talent would see a Japnese character who’s heavier set and automatically assume…

No, it’s not that way! The two characters in “Godzilla Raids Again”, which is a poor title since it was a DIFFERENT Godzilla, and it wasn’t technically a raid, but a battle that wipes out a city.

The thinner character we see in that movie is actually a coward, by his own admission, and fairly disrespectful to his fiance’. He’s motivated by how others see him. He’s not the hero.

The heavy-set guy whom the voice over talent made to look like a buffoon, is actually the smarter and braver of the two. When he sees Godzilla is about to leave the Island, he begins buzzing Godzilla’s head with an airplane that has malfunctioned in the past. When he sees the battle is going wrong, he joins in… flying an unarmed plane.

He doesn’t care what people think of him, and he willingly joins in on the mocking of the fact he’s not engaged, seeing anyone, or married. He turns the joke around to show that he is married to his job.

When the lead actress realizes the thin hero-looking man is actually kind of s jerk, her heart turns to the heavier set man. He’s gruff voiced, funny, brave, and treats her nicely.

All this is lost in the dubbed version. Watch the Japanese original, and suddenly it’s a MUCH better movie! The original Godzilla, panned as being a low budget classic with Raymond Burr awkwardly edited in. When the Japanese original was released in America for the 50th anniversary, people were actually surprised how GOOD it was. Some scenes that were edited out (a Henry Saperstein decision, I’m guessing) were actually exceptionally sad.

If you’ve made a habit of mocking the old Japanese Monster movies, try watching them in Japanese. Turn the subtitles on, and go! You’ll actually be surprised how much better they are than what you thought.

By the way, you’ll learn a lot of Japanese that way, too.

Japanese Acting

If any of you reading ever plan on being an actor, and the thought comes to you, “Hey… I could be an actor in Japan! They always want Western actors!”, let me tell you the only problem with it.

American acting is often, in Japanese eyes, laid back. Read: Boring.

Americans tend to not really DO anything with their faces. So, Japanese directors tell Americans, “Act more!” Americans, typically, when told they’re under-acting, tend to freeze up and act even less.

Try this – watch a Japanese movie in Japanese. Watch the actor’s faces. “You’ve got to be kidding me” is accompanied by eyes opening wide, and an upward motion of the head. There’s a lot more physical movement.

“You ran away and I didn’t know where you were!” is accompanied vocally by the last words in a long, downward slide. The motion of the face accompanies the musical note… a downward tilt of the head. Watch the american kids in “Gamera versus Jiger” – the little girl has this DOWN.

“So desu”, when intended as a “Yes” answer, often accompanies a head movement.

Now compare this to Russ Tamblin’s wooden (by comparison) performance in “War of the Gargantuas”. No kidding, his Japanese co-stars toned down their own performance slightly in order to not make him look bad to Japanese audiences. While Mr. Tamblin was doing a performance that Hollywood would consider A grade acting, it was dull by comparison to a Japanese audience.

Who really got this? “Godzilla verses Monster Zero” featured an American actor (Nick Adams) who had mastered the art of Japanese acting. His performance seemed colorful and a little overblown to an American – to the Japanese audience at the time it was great!

So… if you plan on being in a third series of Godzilla movies at Toho… REALLY PAY ATTENTION to how actors in Japanese movies (past and present) have a lot more body motion and facial expressions than Americans, because there’s been some changes since the 1950’s and 60’s in Japanese acting.

Good training would be to live in Rhode island for six months. Observe how Rhode Islanders interact with one another. Six months after that in Japan… You’re all set!

Go film movies.

12 ways to…

Every three weeks, I get an offer from people to take a seminar on how to blog as a writer. It’s usually expensive, and my thought is… if I’m going to do it, it’s probably going to be Platform University by Michael Hyatt, because he gives you a million things.

But then I get cheat and lazy and think to myself, You know, I don’t need to pay money to figure out this blogging thing. I guess. Maybe. But then that explains why I get like 15 visitors and they get 15,000! But I’m cheap, so…

It seems to me a lot of these experts try to get you to pick a random number (“7…) a task (“Ways you’ve been…”) and a condition that provokes you (“poisoned by alien plumbers”)

Flowchart it.

Intro, x number of words.

Bulleted list

conclusion, with cautionary statement that there may be more ways, or these may not apply to your situation. But those Alien plumbers are poisoning you for sure!

Concluding question…

“In what ways have alien plumbers been poisoning you? discuss.”

And 10,000 people begin talking about implants inside their nose.

My readership should be BOOMING, now!

There you go. i’m sure that’s what the $199 seminar’s are going to teach you.

Send me twenty bucks, and think of what a bargain you just got.

Computers

One thing I’ve learned about computers.

Number one, avoid HP. Lesson number one. Learned that the hard way. My Dell laptops run so much smoother than the HP.

Next – get as MUCH hard drive as you can.

Next – these tend to be conflicting, for some reason – get the BEST laptop you can buy. I can’t count how many times we’ve bought a computer, and it’s been insufficient power.

I suppose the best of both worlds is to buy some gaudy gaming laptop, or one for video work. That way, it’s already set up with max RAM, max processors.

The funny thing is, gaming computers tend to have a little LESS hard drive space than regular computers.

So, Dell, here’s the challenge. Make up a Video editing computer or gaming computer, with as much RAM as the thing can handle ( a terabyte of ram??? I don’t know what the current limit is), and the biggest hard drive it can hold, and as much processing power as you can muster.

Why go so crazy on computer power? Because the average person ends up replacing their laptop every two years. This way, you’ve got more computer than you can outgrow in 24 months. A computer you keep for 48 months is more cost-effective than one you keep for 24.

Setting Goals

My key to productivity is that I’m a planner. I’ve written before about the James Caan movie where someone said something about the 5P principle.

I discovered how effective being a planner is. My articles over the last week show that. I’m writing scripts at a pace seven times faster than other screenwriters.

And you know, there’s indeed the possibility that because of my writing volume, that I may end up with a job as Script doctor – one of those guys who takes other people’s scripts that don’t work, and get them to work. There are some professional Script Doctors who Hollywood studios actually buy a script from an unknown, send it to the script doctor who changes it all around, and the script doctor’s name is the one you see on the movie credits. Two of my favorite movies “Black Hawk Down” and “Patton” were done exactly that way. Although I’ll point out that the director of Patton felt, after reading Coppola’s original, that the doctored version removed the essence of Patton. So he took all the parts the studio heads hated about Coppola’s script and stuck them right back in!

There is justice. The same thing was done with Black Hawk Down, where one man had it, a script doctor was brought in, and then the producers felt the essence of the movie was removed, so they brought back in the original guy. “You got a passport? Be in Casablanca the day after tomorrow. We’re shooting.”

Anyway, getting back to my original point (if I had one), there’s a way to set goals. If you’re writing a novel, it’s this: 1,667 pages a day. Do that.

If it’s a screenplay, it’s as many pages as you can write in a day. I can do 8-10, so I set it at 7 to be safe. I then go to Microsoft office online, and add in a to-do every day. “Name of script, page #” is the reminder. I have to be at page 21 tonight, or so.

Trust me. Try that.

Your movie will be done in no time, because those reminders force you to get busy. Plus, if you’re already working with a producer, he knows when I’m working on the script!

So, no minesweeper for you!

How to beat Writing Exhaustion

One trick I’ve read people talk about for beating writing exhaustion, is to have a “for the fun of it” book project. Your version of Casablanca. If anyone who was part of the East Anglia class, they’ll remember my scene for the writing assignment where I took Casablanca and added Tokugawa to it. It was… really strange.

So, the idea is, you can write something like, taking Winnie the Pooh, and writing your own stories set in that world. It is IMPORTANT, as I’m discovering, to write every day.

When you have a writing exhaustion day, but you still have to write, write in your “for the fun of it” book. It doesn’t have to be great – just fun.

Try Charlie Brown.

Gilligan’s Island.

Winnie the Pooh.

Star Trek.

Tolkien, if you’re into that.

Godzilla.

The Flintstones. Brady Bunch. It doesn’t matter what, just as long as you like it, it’s a world ready to play in, and you have time to write!

The idea is, to always be writing something. It doesn’t have to make sense, just that you’re using descriptives, narratives, dialogue, character descriptions, timeline, events, and above all, goals and frustrations (conflict).

If you’re a nonfiction writer – and its amazing to me how many more of those I meet than others – practice selling pens or something along those lines. Write a book why people shouldn’t be allowed to _________. Why _________ will make them smarter, healthier, wealthier, and live longer. It doesn’t have to be correct, it doesn’t have to be interesting or something you believe – it just has to be PRACTICE, and fun.

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