11 March 2012

More Success, More Work

I'm happy to say my read-throughs of the Project Kronosphere Episodes 1, 2 and teaser for 6 have gone for the most part better than I had expected.  I didn't have and still don't have a handy copy of the last couple scenes of Episode 1 so we never did that but I now know that the news conference dialog the Professor has to speak is a bit too technical for many to read so I will have to reconfigure it to make it a bit easier to recite.

However, in the reading of Episode 2 we ran up into the same problem I've had with with recording the teaser of Episode 1 for the group earlier in the year.  Specifically, it's sometimes hard to follow the action without either narration or Foley.  So my current goal is to get a robust sound effects library and use that to supplement the dialog and bring it more to life.

Of course, all this precludes people showing up to these read aloud sessions.  And by people I mean specifically people with a naturally higher-pitched voice, as in women.  It's not that I need women per se to enjoy my tale, but I can't help but feel it sounds really silly when I play the Professor in my scratchy falsetto.  After all, it's Project Kronosphere not Monty Python's Flying Circus!

So I'm thinking of going to the library tomorrow before my regular Reston Roundup Read Aloud meetup and borrow one or more of the BBC Sound Effects Libraries, transferring the audio to one of my large, portable, USB disks.  Then, if I'm properly hasty I can return them at the wonderful Book and Essay Writers meetup that inspired my read aloud group on Tuesday.  Well, probably not that fast; it'll take a while to rip all 10 disks.  But so be it, progress is progress and as long as the chains are moving PKS is one step closer to your ears and my heart!

18 December 2011

Project Kronosphere Read Through

Tomorrow, I'm planning to have another Project KronoSphere read through at the Reston Regional Library with the Book and Essay Writers of Reston and Beyond. Although the rendez-vous isn't yet on the group calendar because a minimum of people have yet to sign up, with the cooperation of the Reston Writers' Roundup we should have a at least a greater chance of turnout.

The event starts at 18h30 and reading go no later than 20h00. We're limiting the group to 8 and will be including readings by other local writers so if you plan to attend, be early, bring no more than 2,000 words and welcome! You'll find us in conference room 2 off the main entrance.

27 February 2011

The TV Script Writers Meetup

It's been a while since I've made any progress with Project Kronosphere, especially after my poor reviews for episode 1, especially as I've focused on my Electric Vehicle enthusiasm.  That's not to say Project Kronosphere is dead; after all, I've drafted a new act breakdown as a new beginning, though I've still a long way to go for the full, Radio rewrite.

But Project Kronosphere wasn't always a Radio program.  Indeed, it's my dream to see Project Kronosphere fully realized as a live-action, hour-long television drama.  But television production is expensive, and radio is relatively easy.  Sure, audio editing and Foley can be time consuming, but actors are often happy to work and some for as little as a box of pizza according to J. Michael Straczynski.  That definitely makes my role as sole producer more accessible, but hardly satisfies my dream.

But thanks to Meetup.com, I've made some great writer friends, some of whom need to be published.  Like Mike Bresner's All I Want for Christmas, a twisted murder mystery set in Santa's workshop.  I met Mike through the Loudoun County Writers Group and though he's not been able to find an agent for his work, in the age of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and various retellings of the Adventures of Peter Pan.  It seems only natural that a story like Mike's should find an audience in our revisionist, modern world!  All I can say for now is keep an eye on Mr. Bresner; I expect we'll be hearing a lot more from him someday soon.

Anyway, the nice thing about Meetup.com is you can find some very interesting groups that may align with your interests, as I've mentioned numerous times in this blog.  So I was quite delighted when someone created the TV Script Writers Meetup I mentioned at the top of this post.

The TV Script Writers is based in Alexandria, VA, which isn't particularly convenient for me but I'll try to make it work.  The organizer, Crystal, couldn't be nicer and I look forward to making her formal acquaintance.  But what I think is most inspiring of her is to make our first meeting not about showcasing our own ideas, but to learn instead from known successes.

Thus, for our first meeting, we will be reviewing Jason Katims pilot episode for Roswell, based on the novels, which is available here.  I've tried to analyse the pilot for Heroes before, so I find this analysis rather inspiring and interesting, especially since I've never seen an episode of the original television series nor read any of the associated original novels.

The basic goal is to mark up the script with a yellow highlighter to highlight what works for you, and a red pen for what you find doesn't.  Since I lack a yellow highlighter, I decided to use a green sharpie, with the unfortunate consequence of my notes bleeding through to the flip side of the page.  I hope that won't cause problems.

At this point, I've read the teaser and first 2 acts for what I assume was cut down to an hour-long drama with about 15 minutes of commercial breaks.  At 1 page = 1 minute, the script would likely more fit into 90 minutes as written with commercials, but I know they must have cut it down quite a bit.  Act 2 seems especially long.

The shining star of the story this far has got to be the character Isabel.  I find me underscoring nearly everything she does and whatever comes out of her mouth.  She really makes the series for me.  What I must say though is missed in this script is an understanding for the target audience.  A teen drama featuring 16 year olds is basically meant for 14 year old adolescents who aspire to the characters on screen.  In and of itself, the characters seem to ring true, but much as they may use 4-letter words in real life, there's no way that's going to appear on U.S. network television.  Heck, it wouldn't even appear on HBO given the young adult target audience.

All in all, though, I'm liking this script and hope to have finished reading it by next Monday's meeting.

I'm hoping that I'll be writing more this year about the making of Project Kronosphere since I was so quiet in 2010.  As you can see, I've redesigned the page with a new Kronosphere theme.  I wanted to bring you closer to the great, gray-silver ball that can take you anywhere in time and space, coming soon to a speaker, or screen, near you…

02 January 2011

3 Better Moments in Time Travel than the 100 Greatest

½) Time Travel is just an excuse for wearing Diaphanous Robes

As if Telekinesis, Telepathy, Teleportation and Technology well beyond modern standards, never mind the standards of the 1970s, you'd think The Tomorrow People would have enough powers.  But when Peter, the guardian of time starts appearing in dreams, you know something it must mean a visit to Roman Britain in the episode A Rift In Time.

⅓) Toilet Paper Prom Dress

Erica Strange is leading a very strange life indeed.  She's just lost her job, her MD sister's fiancé is on her case and her estranged best friend from high school is a successful newspaper columnist.  Guess it's time to seek therapy.  Enter Dr. Tom and a return to the those fun-filled teenage years where one friend vomits on your dress and abandons you and the the other passes out from alcohol poisoning.  What to do but call for help draped in the only garment left available… just another day in the life of Being Erica.

This one can kick Marty McFly's butt from here to Gallifrey! And like the law that Entropy Increases, it can only be classed as Number 0!

0) Don't Step Into The Box!

An old man in a junkyard confronts two nosy teachers at his granddaughter's school before kidnapping them and taking them back to 100,000 B.C. to construct flaming skull effigies in Doctor Who.  Then, the Doctor gets trapped in the Pandorica.  Some other stuff happens between then, but I forget…

And what about Project Kronoshpere?

I'm working on it, I'm working on it…

26 May 2010

A Meetup Group of My Very Own!

Yes, you heard me right! A Meetup Group of my very own to meet and encourage local writers like myself to hone their craft and hopefully become published or produced someday. Well, not that I have much power to produce my own material, never give advice on publishing, but it's my group, and I've got some awesome members and I'm quite content.

So now I have my very own writer's meetup group after over a over a year of searching and nothing left to write. Where as a year ago, I had proudly completed my third script, for Episode 4a, despite adversity and minor imperfections, today I have nothing left to say for my own writing, at least with respect the Project: Kronosphere, has for the time being dried up. But do not fear, my friends, for this is not the end, it is only the beginning, and the moment is being prepared for...

The story of how I got this meetup group is itself an interesting one. As you can see from my previous posts, there's a gap of over a year between my last post in 2009 and my first in 2010. And although I have another draft post for April 2009 that I've yet to complete, there's still quite a bit I've yet to tell y'all.

You see, in January 2010, while scanning the occasional meetup.com spam new group announcements, I read of a new writer's group just around the corner in the town of Reston, Virginia. And what's more, it wasn't restricted to only Women or at an inconvenient time. Don't get me wrong, though, I happen to think Ruth Ghobadi is doing a wonderful job with her group and I would encourage any women who finds the time convenient to join her group of writers A.S.A.P. But, since I'm not a women, and that time's not for me, I could never be bothered.

But then Verge Writers was created, inspiring a whole new set of writers! It all began on Thursday, 11 February 2010. We all gathered at La Madeline, in Reston to meet the inspirational creator of this all new, writer-oriented meetup group. I was nervous. I ate and ate, stuffing my face in nervous anxiety, I even lost the organizer's name card when I was fumbling to get back into my car. It was both exciting and scary. Would they like my piece? Would they enjoy Project: Kronosphere? It was time to find out. Finally, a group that allowed men and was held at a descent hour: Sundays at 16:30.

So I came; I shared; I enjoyed; I engaged; I befriended. Week after week, I gave more of myself, my story, to my new colleagues. And they gave me their opinions. Some of them were positive; some were negative, and some got worse over time. But you've already read about that. I even made new friends with them on a few of the Social Networking sites: Facebook1 and Twitter. And it's through these contacts that I discovered Susan Diranian's Loudoun County Writers Group, but that's a story for another post.

So I diligently attended each meeting at the group organizer's apartment each week through the month of March. Then came April, and calamity after tragedy canceled meeting after meeting after meeting. Not having the full story from our esteemed organizer, I was not the only writer more than a little frustrated with the inconsistency of our meetup schedule.

If that wasn't bad enough, the organizer for a group I like to call Digital Animation for Fun and Profit was going to have a demonstration of audio recording tricks and techniques she'd picked up in her work with video voice-over production. I was very excited — audio recording is just the skill I need to learn, seeing as Project: Kronosphere is almost certainly going to be a radio series, even if it's never broadcast. Sound is my bread and butter. So I read the meeting description; it says the meetup will take place Tuesday, 13 April 2010 at the Panera Bread in Reston Town Center at 7pm. So I make my way over to the Panera only to find there's no meeting. I check my iPhone and it turns out it's been canceled and moved forward a week.

So a week later, on 20 April 2010, I head on over to the Panera bread again. The meetup was changed to a webinar, to be sure, but the meetup location still said Panera bread. So I arrived at Panera, met another group member and we both scratched our heads: the meetup leader could not be found! Needless to say this made me rather cross. It seemed like very meetup was canceled in April 2010.

As May 2010 rolled on to the scene, the missed Verge Writer's meetups got to be overwhelming and I'd had enough. I decided to counter-program an alternate meetup for the Verge Writers to correspond with ever meeting that was canceled. Every time the organizer scheduled a meetup, I scheduled one around the same time at the Panera Bread — at least one good thing came out of the Digital Animation for Fun and Profit: discovering this great meeting location! This went on for one more week until finally, we were able to attend a meetup that wasn't canceled on Sunday, 16 May 2010, when our esteemed leader announced that she was stepping down as leader and was looking for someone to take over.

So I volunteered.

The next day, I got a letter from meetup.com that was an invitation to take over the Verge Writers group. I clicked the included button and was immediately presented with a bill for $72 for 6 months continued service for the Verge Writers group. I was none too pleased by this. I personally think there's nothing really value-added that Meetup.com is providing over services like Google Groups and Yahoo! and informed my members that once the 6 months continuation expired, I may be moving us to one of these services.

I figure what happened is the original organizer bought the less expensive 3-month service for the Verge Writers group and in April that expired so rather than keep paying for a group she was having trouble attending herself, why not had it off to a more dedicated member. So I don't have any animosity toward this action, just that I think meetup.com is itself quite overpriced. In fact, I'm very proud of our former leader since she's told us she's going to India in August to council victims of the slave trade in that country. I of course wish he well in this and every future endeavor!

The first thing I did when I took over Verge Writer's is to change its name. Verge Writers never settled well with me, because, being fluent in French, I always read this as "Penis Writers". So I felt the name had to change, but to what?

I'm quite fond of alliterations — just like the leader of the Washington Singers and Songwriters Circle. So although it's a bit more Texas that I'd generally like, I chose the name the Reston Writers' Roundup! I even gave it its own sub-domain in the timehorse.com hierarchy. But apart from that, and a few other cosmetic changes, and moving the regular meetings to Tuesdays at 6pm, the group is still pretty much the same, with the same mandate and goals for its members. I've even opened the group up to new members since the the unfortunate purge of 29 March 2010 (29 March has never been a good day for me, but that's a story for another blog).

On Tuesday, 25 May 2010, we had our first meeting at the Panera bread. Most of our regulars were there and it was great seeing everyone once more. Next week, we may even be getting back one of our long lost and greatly missed friends, a victim of the purge.

Of course, nothing's perfect, and there are still some minor problems with the group. There are members who come to a meeting and then disappear or who join the group but never even come out to attend a gathering.

And there's one member who has some beautiful poetry she wrote on Microsoft Works. The thing is, no-one I know has a copy of MS Works, and this means her wonderful piece is pretty much visible by no-one. Fortunately, I found NeoOffice, which can, to some extent, read MS Works files with the .wps extension. So I opened the file in this and exported it to PDF so that I could share this member's work with my fellow enthusiastic writers. When I did this, the author unceremoniously removed the file, claiming it wasn't the right format. I searched quite a bit for find NeoOffice so I could read her file and was quite miffed when she just took the PDF file down. I've continuously tried to extend my hand to this member to work with her to convert the piece to PDF while still preserving the integrity and presentation of her work, only to be rebuffed and ignored. This really bugs me, but there really isn't much I can do. I've thought about kicking this member out of the group, but for now I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

In any case, that's the story of how I came to own my very own Meetup group! Woo!

1My Facebook profile is restricted; only my Facebook friends can see it. To become my Facebook friend, you'll have to request me via e-mail, but I don't want spam so I'm not including that here. Instead, if you really want to friend me, feel free to leave a comment in this blog with a link to your Facebook and I'll be happy to friend you, my dear, sweet reader.

17 May 2010

Where's my other X?

Sometimes, I have to admit, I envy women. Oh sure, both genders have their advantages, to be clear. But I think a women has a better time channeling the male in her than a man has in picking out his inner female. I think a lot of this has to do with the latitude we give for the female personality as opposed to the stricter rules we place on males.

Take, for instance, Professor Rebecca Priestley, designer, inventor and creator of the Kronosphere. She's a woman working in a man's world, the world of academic Physics. She is a woman, she likes to dress nicely and has a lovely house in a quaint part of Notre Damme de Grace, or N.D.G. as the Montréal locals call it. She's more or less secure in her job, though constantly in danger of loosing her funding and her recent focus of research has gained her much ridicule among her peers. This makes her driven, and so sometimes she spends the night on her couch after a late night's research and experimentation. Sometimes, she may look disheveled, but she's keen to get cleaned up when the opportunity arises. But she's most assuredly left-brained. She's mathematically methodical, almost Aspergerian. She's quick to anger but soon lets her more passive, feminine nature calm her back into reason. She's not a girly-girl or a fashion Deva or a sex-crazed Cougar. What the Professor is, is extremely intelligent. She's a woman with 2 PhDs with very diverse academic and professional experience. Does this make her any less a woman?

Sure, I've not told you everything about our Professor in Episode 1. I haven't even revealed it all here. There's so much more to the Professor; it will take time to tease out the threads of this woman's life. We must wait until she's good and ready before she's reveal her past pain. Until then, we must accept that the Professor holds her past close to her chest and doesn't trust easily. Does that make her any less a woman?

Or is it just me? Is this Y I can't write her? Because my X lays along on the chromosomal roller-coaster? Does this prevent me from channeling this woman into my stories?


In fact, I disagree with this postulate. In fact I posit there be more inside a gender than there be betwixt. A nerdy male may better know a nerdy female's mind than he may that of a sports-crazed arm-chair quarterback. An atheist female can channel an atheist male better than he can the blind faith and ecstasy of religion. That's not to say an atheist nerd can't write a devout Christian and Sports Fanatic. Just that that type of person is less likely to navigate in her circle of friends. We tent to surround ourselves with people like us, male and female. And this leads to our experiences being highly colored by similar personalities.

So can I write for a woman? Well, I was told I cannot by a genuine, to the best of my knowledge, XX woman. Does this mean she's right? Perhaps she is, perhaps she isn't. Certainly being told this makes me question whether I should even bother continuing. Especially when positive feedback's been so few and far between. So perhaps she's correct right now, in this one small case, but not over my full abilities or the total future of all of my writings. In the end, when I present this show to you, my dear reader, in it's final, recorded form I will leave it to you to judge if I've correctly described the Professor and all the other characters that appear within and surround the existence of the Kronosphere.

05 May 2010

The Reviews are in! Episode 1 is a MISS!

First of all, I just want to say I'm sorry I've been so remiss in posting here! Believe me, I will, at some point, retroactively add those posts I indented to submit earlier. They should eventually appear here once they've been properly edited. I have a huge post that I may make into it's very own blog given its length. It recalls my adventures in the hectic month of April 2009. But that's for later – or sooner, as the case may be…

Anyway, I've been getting a steady stream of input on the script to the first, maiden voyage of the initial Project KronoSphere crew and I think in summary you could say this: I don't know how to write my characters. I've had numerous suggestions that my characters should have an affectation or some other delineating personality trait. More recently, I've been simply told they are flat, wooden and uninteresting by a number of people. I wonder if this is what Harlan Ellison told J. Michael Straczynski when the later first contact the former? I really wish I knew, because if that was it, then I can't help but feel I'm in excellent company. But it doesn't belittle the fact that my story, at least the initial, and in some way most important, episode, is really quite flawed.

If that were not enough, the woman who runs one my primary meetup groups, the Verge Writers of Reston, has been ill and quite busy and unable to schedule any meetings since March, 2010. Well, technically a lot of meetings have been scheduled since then, they've just always been canceled at the last minute, meaning that I get all excited about giving and getting feedback from my fellow writers only to have my hopes continuously dashed just before the appointed hour.

But in the end, another group, the Loudoun County Writers Group run by a wonderful woman named Susan, has been very welcoming and helpful for me to hone my writing skill. But at the same time, both groups have repeated again and again how my characters are uninteresting each time they get a new piece of my script and I don't know quite what to do. I have some very good suggestions that would change the story around a bit that I will try to implement at some point before I release the Tag to the writing groups – So far, at least the Loudoun group has read the Teaser and all 5 Acts and are just waiting for the Tag. Of course, with all the missed meetings in the Verge group, they're still on Act 4, but it's good to have feedback for most of the script from the Loudoun group.

In the end, I will probably move the climax at the end of Act 5 to be the new Teaser and make the current Teaser, as of script revision 856, the beginning of Act 1. As it is, that would mean the Teaser takes place about a week before Act 1 and, assuming this becomes a Radio play, this is is very hard to do without some narration indicating that Acts 1 - 5 now occur in the past relative to the Teaser and Tag. I don't want to use the crutch of narration because it breaks the suspension of disbelief and although that practice was common in the 1940s, it's relatively frowned upon today. There's also the problem of the ever-growing Acts. Acts that I'd like ideal to be 5 - 10 minutes at most are now bursting at the seems with 20 or so minutes of action! I really don't know what to do. I don't think Episode 1 should be a 2-parter – Episodes 2 - 3 already are and not enough happens in Episode 1 to sustain it through 2 full episodes! That means a lot of dialog is going to need to be cut. That, too, breaks my heart, but at least I have the version control software to recover the lost content should I ever so desire.

As for the bland characters, I will probably put more of the Professor and Yuseph's back story in the Auditorium speech and may do more exploring in Act 4's environment to make it seem less mundane and explain why the characters are so restricted in their actions. But overall, it's as I feared long ago: there's too much technobabble. Of course, I don't want to give away too much in this public forum, but needless to say, there is work I can do to improve the script but even then I think Episode 1 is a total failure and as Episode 1 fails, so fails the entire Project KronoSphere concept. Alas and alack, I knew the Professor well!

But even if I do edit the script 1 more time, as I've said in my Twitter Feed @TimeHorse, "Editing my own work a third time would get me fired if I worked in Television." And yet, that's what this is: a third draft. To be making such major edits so late in the script just demonstrates how poorly a writer I truly am. And as for my pipe dream of seeing Project KronoSphere Television, that dream is utterly hopeless. Ironically, when I was googling to find a link to the Verge Writers of Reston, I actually came upon this link: NBC Universal Careers. Oh, would that I were young, unencumbered and able to just hop on a plane and spend more than 5 months in Los Angeles even if it would be a stepping stone into a much less lucrative dream career, one in which, in 10 - 15 years, I may be able to build up enough of a reputation and enough experience to pitch and sell the Project KronoSphere idea, write it the way it should be written and finally garner the $50,000,000 per series that a proper dramatic television series needs to survive. Then, promptly get canceled 13 episode in because I didn't have and Daleks and go on to try produce the rest of the story as a cheap radio program.

So be it!