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SciFriday: Trying My Own Hand At Writing

Michael Hinman talks about the struggle to complete a work of fiction

Well, I have decided, for sure, wholeheartedly and under no other circumstances, that March will not end without me finishing a story treatment that I’ve been working on since late last year.

I know that sounds very disciplined of me, but to be honest, it’s not the first, second or even third month I have made such a proclamation to myself.

After spending so much time writing about news and other non-fiction events, it can be tough to switch gears and suddenly concentrate on fiction. I’m not really sure how other people, like my friend Jody Wheeler, does it — writing a story on his website DoorQ one minute, and then writing a screenplay the next.

Worse for me, I’m not even trying to finish a screenplay. I’m just doing a treatment — the steps after the story outline process, but before you actually sit down and craft a script. Many times, treatments like the are used to sell a project or gauge interest in a project. I’m trying to do the latter, to see if the story that has been rumbling around in my head the last few months is a solid one, or just something that sounds good to me, and only me.

You know, like what “Twilight” should’ve been with Stephenie Meyer.

But as much as I might like to knock Meyer, she at least is far more capable (and much more wealthy) than I am in doing all this. She finished her stories, and can now sit back and enjoy the praise/criticism. I, on the other hand, still have a half-finished treatment, and I’m looking for the energy to finish it.

A good portion of the treatment was actually finished thanks to popular genre writer Jane Espenson, who is doing some amazing work not only on “Game of Thrones,” but ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” as well. You could say she is being a great coach, even though I am not a direct student — just someone who follows her on Twitter, and participates in her “writing sprints” as often as I can.

The most recent work on the piece came from a 30-minute sprint, where we are supposed to sit down and do nothing but write for 30 minutes. It’s an excellent way to discipline yourself to write, and not allow yourself to put things off — which is so easy to do. In fact, I think when the word “procrastinate” was developed, the creator of the word specifically had writers in mind because damn, we sure know how to procrastinate.

Ever since I was old enough to realize what a writer was, I wanted to be a writer. At first, I wanted to write books. In the second grade, I created my own little children’s book (made on construction paper with crayons) about a frog who had a very long tongue. Later on, in an advanced reading class in sixth grade, I would actually doing my first reimagination, bringing the long-tongue frog story back to life, and actually putting together a complete story (that someone could read in 10 minutes).

After that, I came up with a number of ideas, some fully realized, others not so much. I tend to focus on a specific concept, and go from there. For example, in 2000, I wrote a one-act play that started from the idea that I’ve never seen a stage production take place in a treehouse. So I wrote “The Treehouse,” and in the process realized one major reason why we don’t see tree houses on stage — you would have to enter through the floor.

Unlike some of my other ideas that just fester in my head for years, this current concept came to me late last year, and I was able to develop it rather quickly. I am a huge fan of twists and turns, and the story in my head has plenty of them. Now, so that I can share it with others, I just need to get it down on paper. Once I do that, either I will get a lot of people praising me, or I will learn a tough lesson about writing anywhere near Hollywood — diamonds are just as rare in good movie ideas as they are in the clump of dirt we call our yards.

It’s going to happen. Someday. I promise. If not by the end of March, maybe by the end of December … of 2015. When is the world supposed to end again?

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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