Sunday, June 24, 2007

20,000 Words in Twenty Days

Script Frenzy.

Nailed it.

Best … contest … ever.

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not the title claim itself. Made the 20,000 word quote in twenty days, but completed the first draft of Doc On Loan today. It ways in at a heft 27, 885 words (or 155 pages, fully formatted). To give you an idea, the rule of thumb is one page of script for one minute of movie, bringing this bad boy in at two hours and thirty-five minutes of hilarity. WAY too long, especially for a comedy (which are generally recommended to be shorter than two hours).

(Conventional wisdom suggests that scripts be between 110 and 120 pages, with some sources citing 117 pages as an ideal page count … why that number?).

Anyway, I got a certificate for my Script Frenzy accomplishment, suitable for framing or at least keeping hidden in my desk drawer somewhere.

Several things came out of this exercise … first, such a feat can be done (and I proved to myself it could be done and still live my normal life). Second, I really enjoy the self-motivation and challenge to complete the contest. Third, I REALLY love screenwriting. I may be the most successful screenwriter in Hollywood, but I feel confident I could hold my own in the prolificacy department.

What's the future hold for Doc On Loan? I'm taking a two week sabbatical on it and will be working on other projects. Then, I'll be editing the first draft with the goal to cut thirty-five pages by September 30 (I have a vacation in mid-August which will encroach on my editing time for several days). By the end of October, I'll have it posted on

As far as other writing projects, it's back to my short stories … the one in progress is "Bones Under the Bed." I need to complete a few more for the collection and my goal to have all of them edited and ready for inclusion in the book's first draft is by November 1st. February 1st is the target release date.

On the screenwriting front, I still have Original Idea to start outlining as well as Thirty Years, my first drama. I'm trying to decide which one I want to write first, with the goal to write that script's first draft in a month as well … perhaps starting as early as July 7th.

With the non-fiction writing, I need to start writing articles for American Chronicle again. I have to admit I enjoy writing fiction much more, but it's good to do non-fiction, too, if for anything else, the satisfaction of getting something published on a regular basis.

I'd love to go back to outlining some of my novels in progress, with the ideas of writing one of them for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, sponsored by the same people who sponsored Script Frenzy). That will happen in November. If I have a proper outline by then, I think I can churn out 80,000 words in 30 days.

I have a few other ideas on breaking into other genres, too. More on that later.

So, it's no rest for the wicked, I'm afraid … and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Have a creative week, all …


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Writing on the Road

I just returned from four days away, so this will be a fairly short post. Not only that, but I've pretty much eschewed all writing since last weekend except for Doc On Loan for Script Frenzy and the blogs I write. No American Chronicle articles, no "Bones Under the Bed" (my latest short story) … just me facing 20,000 words by June 30th.

I'm happy to report that I have over 12,000 words logged on Doc On Loan, thanks to the long plane trips and time in the hotel waiting for my wife to wake up (she's a heavy duty sleeper, especially when traveling). I credit a lot of this production to spending time in the early part of the week writing out the scenes all the way until the end. As much as I was hoping I could just write it from start to finish from my head, with all the characters I was introducing and the multiple story lines, I was getting confused.

I figure I'll finish this by June 30th, edit it through the month of the July and then post it on by August 1st.

Meanwhile, I came up with a great screenplay idea on my trip and already started writing out key scenes and dialog. After the first draft of Doc On Loan is completed, I may put this new one ahead of Original Idea. Strike while the iron is hot, I always say! Anyway, I'll reveal more about that one sometime down the road, but the working title is Thirty Years.

Nothing more than that to report, folks … have a great week to all of you (including those now residing on one of our islands in the Pacific).


PS Happy Father's Day to all the papas out there.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Working Without a Net

Progress being made on the Script Frenzy front. As of this writing, I have 6,000 words done on Doc on Loan, "only" 14,000 more to go! I'll be traveling this week and I hope to be able to get a lot more done on the long, boring plane flights. I figure I should have four page a day written to stay on track … so what, I'm about twenty-one pages behind, that's all!

My production is a little low anyway this week, thanks to a head cold I got out of the blue the other day. I hope to shake it by Wednesday because I'm flying out of town. If you've never flown while suffering from a cold, consider yourself lucky!

American Chronicle

I'm finished the piece entitled "The Crisis at Walter Reed: Outrage In Absentia." Though I got a decent number of hits on it, I was amused by one piece of feedback. Obviously, the reader took issue with what I wrote, but could hardly express himself coherently. I particularly liked the comment about how he wished my toilet paper would be replaced with sandpaper.

I welcome all points of view and certainly know I'm my opinion is just that, my opinion, but when I use the Army Times as my principal source material, you pretty much have to figure I've gone right to the source for my facts. Anyway, I chose not to respond to the author of the letter because I don't look at this writing as a debate, but rather I'm expressing my point of view. If you disagree, get your own gig and take me on.

I haven't decided on a topic for my next article yet. It will either be an article: criticizing Vladimir Putin for his overreaction to the proposed missile shields in eastern Europe; urging a fresh look on how we interact with Cuba; exploring the death penalty in this millennium. Let's see how many fans I can win with my views on one of these topics.

Short Fiction

"Macdougal Street" continues to do well on Right now, it's #4 of 47 in the "Short Story / Life" category. It hasn't gotten any higher than #4 since I posted it, but I'm pleased it's doing as well as it is.

I made some progress with the first draft of "Bones Under the Bed," but the new screenplay has been taking most of my time.


Out of the blue this week - and probably as an homage to The Sopranos (one of my favorite television shows ever) - I started writing scene summaries for a Mafia novel I'd like to write. It has quite an interesting twist and I'm enjoying preplanning the work. I usually don't have attention deficit issues, but one thing that writing has done for me is to open up my mind to every possibility. As I said in my interview with E.I. Johnson, I'm feel just like a kid in a candy story sometimes!

Thanks for your kind comments, friends. Wherever you are (or on what island you landed), I extend maximum greetings and good things to you.

Michael C. Cordell

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Script Frenzy

It's not like I don't have anything to do or anything. Yesterday (June 2), I heard about Script Frenzy, an event put on by the same people who sponsor National Novel Writing Month (in November). This time, participants have the entire month of June to write an original, complete 20,000 word screenplay (or stage play). No winners, but one gets a certificate of completion if you make it. Naturally, I decided to do it (more below).

American Chronicle

I completed the piece I was working on last week which was published. I originally entitled it "The Follow of Nation-Building," but I found out there was already another article on the Internet by that title. I changed mine to "Iraq - A Misadventure in Nation-Building."

I'm currently working on a new article I hope to get published by the morning, current entitled "The Crisis at Walter Reed: Outrage In Absentia." I hope that this article will get some people reengaged in addressing the scandal at our premier VA hospital.

Short Fiction

After implementing suggestions by my editors, I submitted "Macdougal Street" to GUD Magazine and Glimmertrain. The former already turned down the piece (I love the fact that I got a decision in only a few days), but I'm still waiting to hear from the latter. I also posted it on very briefly, but got very few views and no comments. After that, I decided to post it on, my first piece on there since I joined several weeks ago. So far, it's #6 of 37 in the Short Story / Life section and going up every time I look at the placement! The story is also posted on, but to date, I haven't gotten any feedback. It seems that site's been pretty dead as of late (at least for me).

I'm still writing the first draft of "Bones Under the Bed." This one will be an interesting piece and I hope that the twist appeals to readers.


No progress on Original Idea this week.

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, I started a brand new screenplay just for Script Frenzy. This one is called Doc On Loan and I describe it as "Doc Hollywood meets Deliverance." The competition website is very interesting … you post your own word count up there during the month, but at some point, you submit the completed work for the official count. Right now, I've completed 782 words and have the basic plot in my head worked out, but unlike my normal approach, I haven't laid the scenes out. No time!


I joined AssociatedContent - The People's Media Company - another online site which accepts writing of all types. I love the fact the Internet has become such a vast marketplace for writers to be read.

That's all for this week, folks. I wish you all a great week and keep writing!

Michael C. Cordell