2020 Screenplay Competitions

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The computer components will be arriving next week, and most of my film gear is already here. I have 3 screenplays that I need to enter into into contests but spending more money on this toxic relationship I have with writing is the last thing I should be doing. It’s always funny to me how after I spend large sums of cash I skimp on the already cheap stuff. Below are three contests that I intend to enter. They are affordable, reputable, and still open for 2020:

Nicholl Fellowship – $48 March 6th (early deadline)

Scriptapalooza – $60 March 2nd (late deadline)

Breaking Walls Thriller Contest – $60 February 29 (extended deadline)

The first 2 are more well known. The third I’d like to enter because I have a strong thriller and it seems legitimate.

I’m not a big fan of screenplay competitions – in fact I’ve never entered one. I don’t believe winning a competition can actually land you a job in the film industry. I do believe it can get you attention. Winning a big competition seems like a great stride toward some form of representation.

Unfortunately, the world of writing is over-saturated with writers. It is difficult enough to craft a novel or screenplay that is emotionally engaging for the reader. The harsh reality is that this is not where most writers get rejected. Having a professional open your story and read the pages is next level – it’s much more common to complete a clean chunk of work that never even gets opened. That’s why there is so much emphasis on writing a catchy logline and intriguing synopsis. By shooting my own short films I’m finally be able to see how my writing plays out for real world viewers. By entering competitions, I’ll essentially be paying people to read my screenplay. It’s not a decision I’m at peace with but viewing my prospects logically I believe it’s a necessary investment. But for today, my only investment is going to be 2 chicken sandwiches and a small drink from Jack in the Box – for a cool $5 I’ll glad trade the health points.

The Ball that Disappeared – Part 3 – Story Finale

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If you missed Part 1, click here

If you missed Part 2, click here

Hugo remained where he landed – on top of the screen he broke down after diving into Old Man Semos’ living room. The harsh landing knocked the baseball out of his hand, and Old Man Semos had picked it up.

Hugo pushed himself up to his feet. The giant hound continued to bark ferociously as Hugo wondered what would happen next.

Old Man Semos wore a a big straw hat, and he chewed on a long piece of grass. A rifle lay in his lap, and Hugo had no doubt he’d used it before.

“What you doing over here, son? Some people get killed for trespassing.”

Hugo gulped. “I’m not afraid of you.”

Old Man Semos turned the rifle barrel and aimed it at Hugo. He squinted one eye, and locked in on his target.

“Pow!” He said.

Hugo flinched and took a quick step back. Old Man Semos laughed outrageously, then set the rifle aside. “Sure look scared,” he said.

“Give me my ball, sir.”

“What do I get?”

Hugo cautiously approached Old Man Semos. “Nothing.”

“Then I can’t give it to you!” shouted Semos. He grabbed the rifle and aimed it at Hugo again.

“Please sir, that baseball is the last thing my dad left me!”

“Your dad?” Semos lowered the gun, and arched an eyebrow as he stared at the ceiling. “Your name wouldn’t happen to be Hugo, now would it?”

Hugo kept his eyes locked on that baseball. Semos was holding it in his hand still, which was at his hip and level with Hugo’s eyes. One quick snatch and he could have it.

“No,” said Hugo.

“What is it?”

“Pudgy.”

“Pudgy?” Semos said, staring curiously back at the boy. “You sure? Can’t imagine any real folks would be dumb enough to name their kid that.”

Hugo’s eyes went wide. “I swear it’s my name.”

“Well, that’s too bad then,” said Semos, before sitting down and tossing the ball up and down in the air. Hugo watched it rise and fall. Semos continued.

“Cause if you were a little boy named Hugo, I might just be able to tell exactly what happened to your dad.”

Hugo stopped tracking the baseball, and looked back at Semos. “What happened to Hugo’s dad?”

Old Man Semos grinned. “He left town altogether. His boy will never see him again, not for the rest of his life.”

Hugo’s heart sank. He knew his dad had left, but hearing he was gone for good made nothing easier. He turned around, then started walking away with his head down. “You can keep the baseball,” he said on his way out.

“Funny thing about that boy Hugo, though,” said Old Man Semos.

Hugo stopped at the doorway, and turned around. Semos tossed him the baseball and he caught it.

“I heard his pops telling people, right before he left, about that boy. Said he’s got an arm like you wouldn’t believe, and so much potential he has no doubt that his kid’s going to be someone special someday.”

“So why did he leave then?”

Semos grinned. “Well, Hugo’s father felt it wouldn’t be fair to the other boys if he stuck around to raise him. Said the only way he could possibly imagine his kid not succeeding, is if all the odds are stacked against him. Says no boy is tough enough to make himself into a man.”

“He said that?”

Semos nodded.

Hugo tossed the ball up, then caught it. “Huh.” He started toward the backyard again.

“Oh, and Hugo?” said Old Man Semos.

“Yeah?”

“As long as you don’t run, my dog isn’t going to chase you.”

Hugo nodded, then walked back through the yard. He squeezed through the fence, ball in hand, and found all the other kids waiting for him on the other side.

“Woah, he did it!” said Pudgy. “We thought you were dog food.”

“Way to go, Hugo,” said Measles, before tossing a friendly punch at Hugo’s shoulder. His reach wasn’t long enough so his elbow straightened and jammed instead. “Ow.”

Hugo smiled as he walked, tossing the ball in his hand as he did. The rest of the kids followed after him.

“What are we gonna do now?” said Measles.

Hugo looked around. He spotted an old, abandoned house way out in the distance. “Betcha I can hit that house.”

“From here?” said Pudgy, before laughing hysterically. “I’d like to see you try, straw man! Ten bucks says you can’t even throw it halfway.”

“I thought your mom gave you that money because you said you needed a better plunger?” said Measles.

“Shut-up Measles,” said Pudgy.

Hugo smirked, then whirled his arm around and let the ball fly.

THE END

  • Thomas M. Watt

Rising Tension: Roy and James Play Cards

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The purpose of today’s excerpt from “A New Kingdom” is to reinforce some of the concepts discussed in my last two posts, building stakes and increasing tension. If you don’t have any idea what either of these terms mean, I suggests you click those links^ and check them out.

I’ve highlighted any lines that are specifically designed to increase tension, establish the stakes, or foreshadow problems to come. This scene is about Fitz and the threat he poses. He is the antagonist of the underground scenes. Enjoy.

* * *

        “What about Fitz? He’s not going to want us back there.

Let me worry about Fitz,” said Roy.

The pair got up and made their way down the corridor. The yellow lights helped make daytime feel almost authentic. Many families sat in the hallway, exchanging their horror stories from the night of the invasion. The cute blonde girl with the yellow rubber boots sat alone, and for a moment James thought about introducing himself, maybe even inviting her to play cards. He wondered if she were dealing with the loss of her parents as well.

Placed at the end of the hallway was a cardboard box, labeled “ELECTION.” When they finally reached it, James peered inside and saw it was filled with napkins – write-in votes for the new underground ruler.

“I don’t get why we are having this damn election today, you know? We’re done if Fitz wins – might as well as be underground slaves from here on out. And why are we voting for a ruler? Shouldn’t we vote for a leader? Somebody oughtta speak up about this stuff,” said Roy.

They entered the backroom that Fitz had strictly reserved for underground council meetings.

Roy dealt James a couple of cards, who turned them around to see a queen and a seven.

“Why don’t you speak up?”

Roy checked on his own hand, “Wouldn’t do no good. None a’them are gonna listen to me, kid. Most adults don’t like me.”

With a quick hand, Roy flipped over three cards on the table. There was an eight, a nine, and a six, giving James an open-ended straight draw. Roy bet and James called.

“Maybe you should try to make them like you? You never know unless you try.”

Roy laughed, “There’s some people I prefer to dislike me. If a guy like Fitz liked me, I don’t think I’d like myself.”

A fourth card was flipped on the table, and a ten was turned over. James had a straight. Roy bet and James re-raised all in. Roy put his hands behind his head, sat back in his chair, and looked as though he were thinking his move over.

“I’m sure you got a seven, which gives you a straight. The damned thing is, I flopped one too, ‘cause I got a five-seven. So I gotta call, but I’m gonna be pretty damn upset if that last card gives you a better hand.”

Roy pushed all of his chips into the center, and both of them were all-in. He flipped over the final card, a jack of clubs. James revealed his hand, and Roy tossed the entire deck into the air.

“C’mon kid, how could you do that to me?”

James didn’t see it at first, but when he studied his hand further, he realized why Roy was upset – The last card gave James a higher straight, Queen-Jack-10-9-8. He got lucky. Roy’s frustration died down, as he chuckled at his bad-beat and picked up the scattered cards.

“You see, in this game, all the brains in the world won’t guarantee success. The skilled professional can lose to the young novice, any day of the week-

The office door flew open, and Colonel Fitz’s entered in.

“Pick up your things and leave. This isn’t a game room – it’s for official government meetings only.”

Roy shuffled the cards and dealt out a new hand. “With all due respect, sergeant anus, there are only four rooms in this place. If there were more, I’d understand. But we may be down here for a very long time, so I’d ‘ppreciate it if you eased up a little bit.”

James pretended not to notice the escalating tension between the two grown men as he picked up the cards.

Fitz marched over to Roy until he stood over him. “It’s Colonel Fitz, low-life. And I will not stand for any under-age gambling. This meeting room is for grown-ups only. That means both of you need to leave.”

Fitz used his arms to pile up all the poker chips into the center of the table, erasing the winnings for both opponents. Roy stood up and put his face to Fitz’s. “Look, Colonel Dick head, when you and your friends finally come here to play ‘pretend government,’ when you make huge decisions like ‘who showers when?’ Then we’ll get out of here. But until then, I’m gonna enjoy life the little bit that I can, and me and my buddy James are gonna play cards right here, whenever we want,” He said, then pounded his fist against the glossy marble.

The colonel took a step back. “Today, go ahead, play your silly game. But I got news for you.” Fitz pressed his finger into Roy’s chest. “I am a military man, Roy, and you don’t wanna start a war with a military man. When I win that election, you’re going to change your attitude.

Fitz left the room. Roy grabbed the deck of cards and returned to dealing them like nothing had even happened. After a couple minutes, James finally broke the silence.

“I think you might be right about some people not liking you.”

Roy shook his head. “If Fitz wins that election, ain’t nobody down here is ever gonna see the surface again. That man is power hungry, James, and hungry people don’t like sharing their food.”

* * *

–  Thomas M. Watt

Author of “A New Kingdom”

The Worst Kind of Marriage – Part 5

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Missed the beginning? – Click below for Part 1

Bethany finished up the stairs. She entered the room first, while Amanda followed behind. Huerto, The sick pervert who had kidnapped each of them and called himself a husband, was in the back, carrying his rifle with him.

Bethany looked to the bed. Her puddle of blood still remained. She clenched her stomach wound. She was dizzy.

Get a hold of yourself.

Bethany squeezed her eyelids closed, grimaced, then remembered she had one chance to escape.

Find the knife.

“Ok my little lady. Are you ready to get our wedding underway?” Said Huerto to the young blonde teenager.

Amanda sniffed, but did not answer.

“I love you, you know,” said Huerto.

Amanda sniffed again.

“Say you love me bitch!”

Huerto smacked the young woman across the face with his rifle. After she kept at a hunch and he started to swing again.

“HEY!” Said Bethany.

The pock-marked Huerto stopped. He looked at her funny, smirked then raised the barrel in her direction. “What was that, honey?”

“Don’t hit her.”

Huerto shifted the bolt handle then locked it down, loading his rife. “Dear, I’m beginning to wonder if you’ve forgotten how this relationship works. Have you?”

Bethany looked down. She spotted the bloody knife. It was on the ground behind Huerto.

“I’m the master, you’re the slave. Right?”

Bethany gulped. She looked at Amanda.

Amanda barely shook her head. “No,” she mouthed with her lips.

“Right?” said Huerto, holding the gun to Bethany’s pale cheek.

She finally nodded.

“All right, great!” He hugged Amanda in close with his free arm. “Let’s get the ceremony underway. Are you excited baby?”

Amanda didn’t answer.

Huerto threw her headlong into the desk near the window. “I said, are you FUCKING excited!” He walked over to her then kicked her in the stomach.

Bethany looked at the ground. The knife was in plain sight, and Huerto’s back was to it.

“ARE YOU?” Screamed Huerto.

Amanda cried.

Get it. Get the knife.

Bethany started after it, but as soon as she did Huerto whirled around and loosely aimed the gun at her. “Where are you going?”

Though she was curled up in the fetal position, Amanda bit Huerto on the front of his shin.

“Ahh!” He returned his attention to her and smacked Amanda in the ribs with his barrel.

Bethany moved fast, too fast. When she reached for the knife she kicked it instead. Over shoulder she saw the painful expression on Amanda’s face. The young girl bit Huerto’s leg again anyways, and dealt with the repercussions.

The knife had slid under the dresser. Bethany crouched to her hands and knees and reached for it. The blade cut her fingertip and she felt it spin away.

C’mon!

She could hear Amanda getting pummeled. Time was running out. Bethany lowered all the way to her stomach, felt around underneath, then finally took hold of the handle. She shimmied her arm back out, knife in hand. She gritted her teeth, shot to her feet, then turned around.

“What the fuck are you doing?” said Huerto. He was holding Amanda up, his fist clenching her hair.

Part 6, Coming Soon!

– Thomas M. Watt

The Writer of Words

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The words the words the writer of words,

The one who lives for the nouns and the verbs.

Alone in his attic, gone to his room, thinking of something, a plot twist or truth.

The words the words the writer of words.

Prose doth he speak, knows what he knows, sees what folks doesn’t, see what folks done.

Thinking it always, see words less speak, teaching us something, writes what we read.

The words the words the writer of words.

Always he does, tinker his best, lays down the rules, opens his chest.

Let’s us all in, to that weird little mind, provides for us glimpses, of thoughts stuck in time.

The words the words the writer of words.

What is this talent to roll and to go. What is this desire to describe just one rose.

A man of the world? A man of the arts? A maker of stories? A thief of used plots?

What is his trait, why does he think. Why does it matter if we like what we read?

What is this passion? From where does it come? Secluded in nothing, promises to him none.

Not laughing funny, not getting laid, not getting read much, not getting paid.

Still he can’t sleep. Still he does write. Still his pen scribbles. Still he sees light.

Where is this end? At what tunnel he thinks? Does he not know that he’s working for free?

Find his reward, please show it to me! Tell me the prize to take on this disease!

Tell me for once, just give me one word, give me a reason this mans lives so absurd!

Well I’ll tell you reader, I’ll say what I know – The thought of not writing fills writers with woes.

For when pain does come, when life is unfair, there’s two kinds of escapes, addicts all do share –

One is through drugs, sex and bad things. The other’s through art, hearts raised to beauty.

For a man of the world does not see these two lines – he is a fool who thinks they’re both of one kind.

But I tell you something, for I have once seen – A man in his mind accomplish impossible things.

For hours spent thinking, writing fine lines, imagine the way to reach that pinnacle high.

How does that happen, to whom does it go? Who are these writers we have come to know?

They are the ones who persisted the best, they are the writers who pushed on from the rest.

Through all the rejection, the hatred and such, the loss of a lifetime, the miss of one’s touch.

Keep going forward, make that book great. Get that shit perfect, work through night’s late.

At the end of your life, on your death bed, would you rather have quit, or stuck it out to be best?

Is it not worth the struggle, not worth the strife, to see your own words, passed on through time?

I say it is, I say that I do, the words I do love you, now please love me too.

The words

The words

The Writer of Words

– Thomas M. Watt

A Conversation between Thomas M. Watt and a character from his book

Adam from, “Way of the World.”

Thomas and Adam were both sitting on the curb together. Thomas was wearing his shoulder sling, while Adam was sipping scotch from his flask, dressed in his usual eccentric attire.

“Rah, why are we here, Thomas?” said Adam.

Thomas shrugged. “I don’t know. Just wanted to talk, I guess.”

“Talk? You want to talk let’s do it at a barroom.”

“We’re here, so just deal with it.”

“Sure.” Adam scoffed. “Deal with it. He shook his head. “What a terrible phrase. Well, let’s have at it then. What have you brought me here for?”

“I wanted to talk about your plot. I wanted to see how you felt about it.”

“About what, exactly?” said Adam.

“You know, the love curse. The prophesy on the train. The fact that if you fall in love it puts your entire company at risk.”

“You know that company hardly matters to me. And I don’t care about love, either. Despite what you might think,” Said Adam, scratching his long white chin.

Thomas laughed and adjusted his sling. “What about those quiet moments when you seem ashamed of yourself?”

“What! C’mon! Everybody has those moments! It’s called having fun. Thomas, listen, I honestly don’t care about my plot, whatsoever. I just need you to do one thing for me.”

“What?”

“Allow me to fuck Evelynn.”

“What! I can’t do that!” said Thomas.

“Why not?” said Adam.

“Because that’s what’s driving your whole story now! It’ll kill the suspense!”

“Oh, forget suspense! Here, I’ve got an idea.” Adam stretched his tall lanky legs straight out in front of him, then rested his white-gloved hands in his lap.

“What?” said Thomas.

“How about this – If I don’t have sex with Evelynn at least twenty times in your novel, the Kingsley Products goes out of business.”

Thomas laughed. “I’m sorry, I can’t see that appealing much to readers over the age of thirteen.”

Adam stood up, then brushed some dirt off of his white buckskin shoes. “Rah.” He stood up straight. “Well what’s with you, anyhow?”

“Me?”

“Yeah, how are you? What exactly happened today?”

“With what?” said Thomas.

“Oh, c’mon, you know what! You had a captivating story going for a few days, then you published the finale this morning, and… well… let’s just say it wasn’t good.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“In fact, I’d say it was shit.”

“Yeah. I know,” repeated Thomas.

Adam laughed. He picked up a small black pebble then tossed it into the street. “Why did you publish it?”

Thomas shook his head. “I don’t know. I had forty-five minutes to write it, and by the time the first draft was finished, I had to get out the door. I guess I just pressed publish without a second thought.”

“It was a mistake.”

“Yeah, tell me about it. Nine views and three likes. I’m hoping they just didn’t wanna press the button.”

“No,” said Adam. “They read it and decided it was shit.”

Thomas raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, or that.”

“Billy the butler? That was almost offensive. You’re not a very good writer, you know.”

“I created you.”

“Yeah, that’s why I said it. You don’t bring a character out of his normal setting to have a conversation with him. And about his own plot, for rah-sakes!”

Thomas stood up. “Well shit, I’ve been struggling all day with this thing. I even wrote a poem about it.”

“Yeah, and the poem sucked.”

“You’re kind of a dick, you know.”

“And you’re kind of a bad writer.”

“Whatever dude. I’m leaving.”

“Hey dude!” Adam called out, as Thomas started away.

“What?!”

“Write me more sex scenes! Get me some new flousies or something!”

“It’s spelled floozies.”

“Shut-it, you’re the writer. It was you who decided to be different and spell it your way.” Adam adjusted his black felt topper and failed to hide his smirk.

“What?” said Thomas.

“I’m just embarrassed to have been created by you, is all.”

Thomas opened to speak, before biting down hard on his bottom lip and walking away.

– Billy the Butler

The Writers’ Dream

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Back is hurting, ass is sweaty, tired of hunching, always pressing,

Got to get back on my feet got to get those words to seep –

Through my fingers, from my pen, to the desktop, repeat again.

How many drafts does one book take, how much perfection do readers crave?

Doesn’t matter, I don’t care, I know one day it will get there.

Perseverance? That is shit. Try to spend one year like this.

Learn to get up when you’re damper, know each word from front to backwards.

See description and how it lies, find out what meets readers’ eyes.

For it is not the talk of bees, nor the words that make you pleased.

What readers want is not so much, just to read and feel a rush.

To stimulate the modern mind, without much pictures in faster times,

To do the work of talking grand is indeed one dumb-ass of a plan.

They did not come here just to see the mind of yours and learn you’re deep.

They came instead to just relax, to grab a book and eat a snack.

To keep them going for one night, to let them think your book reads right.

Get them thinking it’s a treat, get them wondering why ‘Jack leaps’.

Raise a question, submit the answer, in the middle fill with banter.

Do this once and you’ll achieve, fulfillment of the writers’ dream.

– Thomas M. Watt

Mayor Dunlap’s Estate

Mayor Dunlap's Estate

This is the Dunlap’s estate. It is known as the most lavish abode in all of Gnashing, and is frequently admired by all who pass by. It is located in the farm country, and is the same home former Congressman P. Farro inhabited.

Michael has some troubling childhood memories here, as the third story room was where he committed twelve murders during the Slave Owner Slaughter.

For more about my novel, “Way of the World,” feel free to check out my website at http://www.thomasmwatt.com