One Simple and Incredibly Painful Way to Fix Your Novel Draft – by Charlie Jane Anders
Congratulations! You’ve written a first draft of a science fiction or fantasy novel. You (and your heroes) have vanquished the enemy, and your story has come to a glorious end. And now, the real agony begins. Chances are your first draft is a misshapen wreck, which requires huge surgery.
The good news is, there’s one great technique to diagnose and fix the problems with your novel draft. The bad news is, it’s excruciatingly painful. But you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t a masochist in the first place.
That technique is: Try writing your whole novel over again, as a short story. From scratch, without looking at your novel draft. If possible, you can even do this a few times over, focusing on different POV characters or different themes.
This isn’t the same thing as just writing a synopsis or outline of your novel, which is something you absolutely must do as well. When you’re writing a novel synopsis or outline, you’re not trying to make it a particularly great read on its own — especially not when you’re doing it in the middle of the revision process. (Later on, when the novel is ostensibly done, you’ll write a polished synopsis to show to agents and editors, but that’s a ways off.) When you’re writing a synopsis or outline, you’re just trying to describe the main events that happen in your novel and how they (hopefully) fit together.
David Israel here. How to Rock’s showrunner and Executive Producer.
There have been rumors swirling around about the future of How To Rock so I thought it time to set the record straight. Nickelodeon has decided, unfortunately, not to give How To Rock a second season. I know this news will be very disappointing for many of you. Believe me, it’s disappointing for me, too.
Why isn’t the show coming back? There’s no one simple answer. NIckelodeon is going through a transition right now. You already know that iCarly and Victorious are not coming back. Nickelodeon has many new shows in production and development that they believe will better suit their audience. While I don’t love their decision, I have no choice other than to accept it. The Nickelodeon executives who’ve worked on the development and production of How to Rock have been incredibly supportive of the show this past year. They’re good people who want nothing more than to make the best shows for their audience. I know it wasn’t an easy decision for them — they truly do like the show — and I’m grateful for the time and energy they’ve put in to make How To Rock as good as it is. Or was.
There is good news. We made 26 episodes. You’ve only seen 17 of them. Meaning — quick, do the math — there are NINE new episodes still to come and Nick will be showing all of them. Seasons of British shows are often 6 episodes. So if you think British right now, you still have a season and half of new How To Rocks. Smashing.
The next episode that will air is “How To Rock a Singing Telegram” on September 22nd. In it, Gravity 5 raises money for the school by performing singing telegrams in several different musical styles (including one like Big Time Rush, which is awesome). At the heart of the episode is a touching story about friendship. I know you’ll all like it. On September 29th, you’ll see “How To Rock a Yearbook” where Gravity 5 tries to get their own yearbook page, just like the Perfs have. The Perfs, of course, are two steps ahead. You’ll also learn why Zander is so secretive about last year’s yearbook from his old school — and why Stevie and Kevin will stop at nothing to uncover the secret.
There are 3 new episodes in October, including “How To Rock a High School Sensation” with special guest star Romeo Miller and “How To Rock a Camping Trip” in which you’ll be shocked which of the gang takes charge after Zander eats some bad berries. The acoustic campfire version of “Only You Can Be You” will melt you.
Our season — and series — will conclude on December 8th with “How To Rock Christmas.” Tremendous episode. Festive, funny, touching… and Kevin and Nelson are dresses as elves.
My biggest regret about How To Rock not getting a 2nd season is that I won’t be going to work everyday with the truly remarkable people who made the show happen. You know the cast and they are all incredibly talented and gracious people. Cymphonique, Samantha, Halston, Lulu, Max, Chris, Noah, Kirk, Jacob and our many guest stars brought the show to life by truly committing themselves to their characters. (Though I’m not sure Chris and Noah were ever really acting — they are that ridiculous.) I will miss our run-throughs and rehearsals and their pre-show rituals that I was fairly close to figuring out. (“Bunny bunny bunny bunny…”) All of them will continue to shine on screens and stages for years to come and I hope they look back at their How To Rock days with pride.
Behind the cast were a team of writers, producers, directors, production staff and a tireless, phenomenal crew who poured their collective hearts and souls into the show to make sure it looked good, sounded good and felt like a show worthy of being on Nickelodeon or any other channel. We never settled for average, always strived for excellence, and I think we hit far more home runs than we struck out. (Sam and Halston, that is a baseball reference. Can explain it to u more privately.)
Thank you, cast and crew, for your hard work and passion. This past year has been the best professional experience of my life. I hope it was as fun and rewarding for you as it was for me.
And then there are you fans. Wow are you people devoted. Especially you Shippers. As this was my first Nickelodeon show, I have never experienced fandom like I’ve seen on How To Rock. I’ve been overwhelmed (and slightly terrified) by your passion for the show and detailed observations of moments that occurred in various episodes. I am truly sorry that the How To Rock storylines won’t be continuing for multiple seasons because I know you would have been following — and complaining — every step of the way. You have no idea how gratifying it is — Chris and Noah, now would be a good time to google “gratifying” — to have the characters you helped create and develop strike such a chord with so many people. I’ve loved reading your comments about the show on Twitter (even those from the fearsome Zevie Nation) and look forward to seeing what you have to say about the final nine episodes. (Except those from the fearsome Zevie Nation).
I did read some comments about Nickelodeon after the Victorious news came out. I know how difficult it can be when some of your favorite shows go away. And I get the frustration. Try to keep in mind that the people at Nick really are trying to serve their audience the best they possibly can. Be open to the new shows that will be coming on in the next several months. They may surprise you.
Thank you, How To Rock Family, for going on this journey with me. I have loved every minute of it (almost) and could not be more proud of this season. Rather than focusing on what we didn’t get to do, let’s focus on all we’ve done. Life’s too short to worry, don’t you know it’s true. Only you can be you, only I can be me.
We would’ve spelled “Emmus” differently (e-m-m-i-s), but otherwise this guy knows his stuff.
I have to admit that I found the threads above fascinating. And informative. And all that other good stuff. “Age hath not withered,” etc.
If you’ve got questions, the Message Board just may have the answers because, let’s face it, the odds are you’re not the first person with a particular problem/concern/issue. I could be wrong, but the only way you’ll know is if you check it out.
Bottom line: Have a look at all that’s available on the Board and let us know how it works out. And also let us know what else you’d like to find out so TVWriter™ can get you that info too.
I love this guy. I met him while I was running one of the most enjoyable shows of my career – THE FALL GUY – and he offered me the chance to write and produce any film I wanted with his company…as long as I paid for it. I mean all of it.
In that moment, Roger proved to me that, without a doubt, he had showbiz down. Not that he had to prove anything to anyone, but still…
Aince I oh-so-regretfully turned him down, I haven’t seen him again. Which is a shame because, as it turns out, Boss Corman and I have two important things in common.
Our wives. Once upon a time, my wife Gwen the Beautiful worked for his wife, Julie, as her personal assistant
We both have a thing for 50 foot women
And speaking of that:
Roger Corman on ‘Attack of the 50 Ft. Cheerleader,’ the Benefit of Budgetary Restraints and Why the Internet’s the Next Home for Indie Film – by Danny Bowes
Roger Corman should need no introduction. Without him, independent film in the United States would be an entirely different entity, if it would even exist at all. As a director, he was responsible for a classic series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations in the early 1960s, among many, many others. As a producer he gave early-career breaks to some of the most storied names in American cinema: Coppola, Scorsese, Bogdanovich, Sayles, Demme.
And, above all, Corman maintained a steadfast commitment to making fun, profitable pictures, of which he has made literally hundreds over the course of his career, now in its seventh decade. His latest film as a producer stars Jena Sims as aspiring college cheerleader Cassie Stratford who, you know, grows to a giant size after taking an experimental performance-enhancing drug, and premieres on Epix this Saturday, August 25th at 10pm. Indiewire caught up with Corman on a recent afternoon for a chat about this most recent project, his career in general, and matters philosophic.
This question will probably answer itself — it certainly would for me — but why “Attack of the 50 Ft. Cheerleader”?
The idea was originally Epix’s, and I had worked with a friend of mine who had produced the original “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.” I had designed the ad, which is sort of a classic — it’s in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection — so they knew I had some connection with that, and I’m just on good terms with them.
They just asked me if I would like to make it. I said yes, for two reasons: one, I thought it would be a fun project, and it was, and secondarily, I had never worked in 3D before. I thought there’s so much going this way in the industry, I’d better find out and this would give me a chance to learn. So the picture worked out very well on both bases.
It’s a kind of picture that at the same time it feels very modern, it feels in the best ways like a throwback, in terms of it being the kind of T&A comedy from the 70s and 80s, was that a conscious decision to bring back that kind of aesthetic?
Yes, we were aware of the changes in the film industry, and also the successful films we had made some time ago, and we felt we would bring back a little bit. It wasn’t a major event, but we felt we would bring back a little bit of the flavor of that, which would add a little interest to the film.
The picture seemed as though as it was made for a fairly modest budget, which is something your work has been known for. Is it strictly a practical choice, or are there some aesthetic benefits to working within modest means?
It’s primarily a practical choice. We had a deal with Epix, we knew exactly how much money they were giving us. We retained the foreign rights, so it was just sort of a calculation as to what sort of budget, putting all these factors together, should “Cheerleader” represent.
Do you feel, though, that working within restrictions like that is a boon to creativity in any way? How do restrictions like that affect the choices you would make as a producer or director as opposed to having unlimited resources at your disposal?
The rumour mill says that Chevy Chase walked off set at the end of filming for Season 3 because he refused to do something. What did he refuse to do?
He refused to do the “tag” for the Digital Estate Planning episode (the 8 bit video game episode). In the scripted tag, Abed comes to Pierce with the thumb drive he took, and says “Pierce, I’ve been able to adjust some of the code for your Dad’s video game and I’ve made a version I think you might like better.” He puts the thumb drive into a laptop in front of Pierce. We cut to the laptop screen, where we see Pierce’s avatar on a front lawn with the giant floating head of Cornelius. Every time Pierce presses the space bar, his avatar throws a baseball to his father’s head, which gives him a thousand points and a “great job, son!” Pierce presses the space bar a few times, pauses, then leans over and embraces Abed and we fade to black. When Adam Countee pitched that tag, tears instantly rolled down my cheeks, and in point of fact, my eyes are getting watery describing it to you. It was the most important part of the episode and possibly one of the most important moments of the season. I was very upset to hear that it wasn’t shot because someone didn’t feel like shooting it, especially since it was literally the last day of shooting, which meant we’d never be able to pick it up. I regret nothing about how upset I got. My job was to care about my show.
Why did he refuse to do it?
The answer I heard from the people on set was that he didn’t think it was funny. After he realized how upset I was about it, he said things in voicemails like “there was no script” (untrue) and “I have a weird relationship with the name Cornelius” (dumb, he had no dialogue in the tag). The real answer, I believe, is that he wanted to go home because he was tired. He probably didn’t realize he was permanently damaging the episode by doing so because he often walked off set and then we would just pick up his shots later in the week. But this was the final shot of the season. The sets came down after he walked away. So this was the one time in three years that his personality caused unfixable damage to something I really held valuable.
This kind of thing happens all the time. We’ll see if we can get LB to tell some of his stories about scenes that didn’t get shot and lines that didn’t get said and why. Better yet, why don’t you email the boss and bug him about it directly? Mwaaahhhhhh…