Original Publication March 21, 2013
(Note: I have been writing this blog for over a year and a half. The subscription list started out with very few people—friends and family. I am pleased to say that it has grown to a very healthy number of people at the moment. This means that 90% of our readers missed the very beginning blogs. I have therefore decided to re-publish some of the earlier ones every-so-often for you in the coming weeks. Today’s blog was my sixth blog. I hope you enjoy it and that it fills in some of the pieces of my career which you missed early on at this blog. Cheers.)
Very soon after I arrived in Los Angeles, I began working on the screenplay that I had been hired to write. It was to be based on two best-selling books by Mexican author Irma Salinas y Rocha.
I broke down the characters in her two books, which numbered about fifty. One thing I knew was you couldn’t have fifty, fully-developed speaking parts in a film any more than you could in a play. In a book twenty-five or thirty characters would be considered normal.
With a film, like a play, you have to have a good guy (protagonist) and a bad guy (antagonist). Then you have about 6 to 8 more people divided between both sides and that’s about it as far as characters goes. Otherwise you’ll need a scorecard to keep up with who is diddling whom.
Irma was appalled that I had boiled her characters down to only eight, had combined some of them and, besides, was leaving out some very important scenes as far as she was concerned. We had many go rounds on these points. Finally after arguing all these matters ad infinitum, I followed my central plan on things and eventually turned out a 126-page screenplay, which I called Tequila.
During all the time we wasted on discussions of the author’s moot points, I had become bored. To keep my mind functioning, I began multi-tasking. I undertook the writing of another screenplay on my own (and strictly in secret) which I called The Devil Sent You To El Paso. It was 114 pages long and had a few more characters than usual but in this screenplay, I felt they were justified.
Finally the moment of truth was fast approaching for Tequila. What was going to happen when I turned it over to the production team? From where I observed, all looked like cloud nine was straight ahead. Everything seemed to be going along beautifully–that is, UNTIL one day out of the blue I received a notice that the production had shut down. I quickly found out a development like this can happen in Hollywood on the spin of a dime. The poop about our closure centered on Irma’s decision all of a sudden to end the project. So, without any warning, there I was— off the gravy train in one swift kick.
Hollywood is certainly not Paris. Hollywood plays peaks and valleys with your emotions 24/7 while Paris is the city of dreams. Hollywood will make you a quick study of expecting the unexpected. I learned that fast. If failure moves in with you, you must quickly develop a hide as thick as that of a rhinoceros so you can learn to ward off all forms of rejection and unexpected actions. You’re about to meet Roger, the guy who is responsible for my having such a thick skin.
In the next blog, you’ll see the reality of Hollywood setting in on my life.
WE HAVE A WINNER: In our BEGINNINGS contest, we had quite a few excellent entries. They were turned over to our judge, Anne Zimanski of The Vieux Carré Book Club (VCBC) of New Orleans. Anne is an avid reader and leader of one of her area’s best book clubs. From her vast reading experience, I figured she would be a perfect judge for our contest.
As winner, she chose the entry by James T. Stewart. I am not personally acquainted with Mr. Stewart, but if he will send me an email with his address, I will gladly forward him his free copy of MURDER IMPOSSIBLE as soon as it is published. Congratulations to James and all of you who entered. Here is James’ BEGINNING sentence:
“I could hear Ed, the guard, coming down the hall.”
Here is Anne’s reason for choosing this entry:
“While I think that all of your readers made a great effort, I selected this sentence as the winner because I felt like it had a great “hook.” The mention of a guard suggests that the narrator is in a special place where he or she must be guarded or in a prison. Either way, it made me wonder why the narrator needed to be guarded, and what made Ed’s coming down the hall appear to be ominous. When an author makes me wonder about something with his opening line, I’ve been hooked.”
Interesting. Thank you all for entering the contest and a special pat on the back to James