Consistency is King

Today I have the apartment to myself and no work obligations.

I completed my first non short film style YouTube video yesterday and posted it. It doesn’t have many views, though I wasn’t really expecting it to. I have been hosting online meetup zoom meetings for the past 2 months every Sunday. It has been an awesome experience to see the same faces show up regularly. We have also had new members stop by each week. The plan was simple – host an informal, low pressure event routinely and allow the attendance to grow naturally. So far, it has worked.

I’m going to apply the same methodology to my short YouTube videos. I will regularly update my progress on Episode 5 and discuss whatever part of the process I am currently developing. I intend to build a gradual increase in viewership from posting consistently. If I were still writing novels rather than screenplays I would do the same thing. It’s an easy and low cost way to grow your following.

This does, however, increase my overall workload. My friend suggested a while back that I create a schedule for production and stick to it. I haven’t been able to generate that timetable because I’m still stuck in the writing process. I do feel that a good script cannot be rushed – creativity is not something we control, it is something we express.

So this fine March day I have the place to myself and can sit down and work through some of the major bugs in my script. I may completely rewrite the opening scene with a centralized focus on the plot’s greater mystery. Rewriting my opening scene would be ironic considering the current scene was the object of discussion in my last YouTube upload. I would also like to learn more about crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon, Twitch, Indie gogo, and paypal (general). It would be wise for me to find a way to make items from the show available for sale.

Anyway, I hope you have a fine day doing what you love, or at least figure out a way to pretend to love doing that which you are forced to do.

Forcing Familiarity

“Read it!” The author said to the stranger.

Anytime you release a creative project – be it a novel, a film, a product, or an idea – you must take into account the realistic reception it will most likely receive.

It is naive and ignorant to anticipate the masses will flock to view your work because of its “masterful composition.” Any creative individual seeking external validation has signed up for disappointment.

The most common misconception of any artist is that the quality of their work will be instantly recognized upon its release. This is because the human mind does not operate that way.

Let’s say you decide one fine Sunday to read a book that has 0 reviews and no prior purchases.

Despite the fact you do not know the title of the book, nor it’s contents, nor its subject matter, you have already made an assumption about its overall quality. You are picturing novel ripe with plot holes, poorly applied research, and quite possibly grammatical errors. Why? Because you are looking for a reason to explain why the novel is a failure. It has thus far been labeled a failure by the rest of society, therefore you must examine it to figure out why.

This is no different than how we judge our fellow brethren and sisters. When we meet somebody new we ask what their occupation is shortly after introducing ourselves. In a job interview we provide a chronological blueprint about our prior life experiences in order to vouch for a job. In other words, we validate individuals, materials, and philosophies by first examining how they have been validated by others.

Now let us pretend on this fine Sunday morning that you have purchased a Stephen King novel instead. Perhaps you have never read any of his books before. What angle do you approach the pages with? You seek to discover why he is regarded as one of the all-time great novelists. You will study those pages and analyze the story in order to find the recipe to success. You are ready to receive his book with high regard and it will take work to change your opinion.

What’s the point of all this? To reassure any person out there who is trying to introduce something new to society that they are not falling short because of their skills and talents. That plays a role (the biggest in the long run), but it is not 100% responsible for the reception it receives. As a brand new novelist, your work will still be compared to Stephen King’s for examples of what not to do.

So what’s the point? Why even try? How can this hurdle be overcome?

You must continue to market your work even after learning it is not the masterpiece you once thought it to be. You must continue to defend yourself even after your weaknesses have been exposed. You must become a sales person who realizes that the consumer will not buy their product unless they are convinced it is a worthy investment.

The more you expose your imperfect work, as gut-wrenching as that may be, the more the public will find a sense of familiarization with you, the individual. Where at first they said no, they may eventually say yes – and only because they have been exposed to your brand multiple times. This is why advertising exists, after all – we’re not running to Mcdonalds every time we see a billboard. However, we may just feel like a McGriddle when we head into work the next day.

If you’re interested in my imperfect work, please check out my short film below and feel free to leave me a comment:

Free Write – 6/27/20

DSC02660

I finally sat down and did some writing yesterday, about 730 words worth. I wanted to avoid it, contemplated the pointlessness of the task, but in the end – I did it.

It’s easy to get bogged down during any first draft. The amount of elements we learn to incorporate in an effective story is never ending – create a sympathetic protagonist, inciting incident, conflict, need/wants… it simply never ends.

They say you’re either a plotter or a planner. I’ve heard the great Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) has literally every major beat plotted out before he begins writing his script. Stephen King, on the other hand, is a notorious plotter.

I have to say I’m more of a plotter. When I sit down trying to plan out the story, I find myself dumbfounded and unable to create a sequence that will work once the writing begins.

What I’d really like to do with these short stories is experiment with different effects. I want to establish a character who experiences a fundamental arc that resonates with the reader and leaves an emotional impact along with a lesson learned.

The story I’m crafting currently is about internet dating and how artificial it is compared to real, genuine relationships. I’m not a hundred percent sold on the concept but it’s simple enough that I feel I can write it quickly without a momentous struggle.

But since this post is about “free write”, let me spontaneously move to another thought that’s been nagging at me – we’ll call it “intrinsic attraction.”

I’ll define intrinsic attraction as a primitive curiosity that subconsciously prompts us to investigate an issue. When you look at videos that “go viral” or news items that generate massive public response, I believe intrinsic attraction is the culprit. I also believe that when producers and publicists refer to the strength of a story’s premise, they are referring to the level of intrinsic attraction.

I think this is what a writer should look for before they begin writing any story. Does the subject itself generate interest? We’ve all seen videos on youtube with millions of views that feature nothing more than a rock being microwaved for 10 minutes. Why do we watch these? Because we want to see what happens.

I feel it’s much more difficult to find as captivating a premise for a story, but that’s the key to gaining views. I think the more ambiguous you can make your stance as the story teller, the more intrigued the reader will become to find out what agenda is at play through the unfolding of your story. If you can find a controversial issue and keep the reader guessing at what you think, this intrinsic attraction will generate a viewer response to engage in your material.

I don’t think I’ve found the answer to this with my current story, at least not yet. I need to put a twist on it or else the reader will enter the story already knowing the answer – internet dating is not as true and reliable as a person in the flesh. I should also clarify what I mean by internet dating – I’m referencing the short term experiences made by online interactions that do not manifest into real world meetings.

I’m going to do more thinking in this area, but of course I’m open to suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to read this and feel free to share your thoughts.

Like a Small Business – 4/17/20

Mountain Cult 2

This is a barn

I’m writing this for no one, and to be honest it doesn’t exactly paint me in a great light.  But I believe in consistency, so I’m going to post despite having nothing good to report.

My buddy bailed on me for filming on Tuesday. He’s a personal trainer of sorts, and had 2 time slots get filled last minute. He’s also got a wife and a young son. That’s at least his 4th time cancelling, and 2 of the cancels came the morning of the shoot.

We rescheduled for Friday, but again something came up. He requested we shoot on Saturday, to which I initially agreed. I spent 3 hours editing the footage we had from our first day, doing my best to salvage shitty footage. I sent it to him and asked for his opinion. The real reason I asked is because I wanted him to see how necessary it was to reshoot the entire thing. After 2 hours without I response I cancelled his involvement entirely (in a much kinder way than it sounds).

It was a really difficult decision to make – after-all, the character was written specifically for his build and personality. I’ve invested a lot into the production, including props, rewrites, and even the edits I made. The worst part is – I have nobody to fill his shoes.

If you followed me years ago, you may remember I shot a project with a friend named Scott. I reconnected with Scott and he’s excited to play the re-occuring role of a private detective in the series who should be in episode 3. We’ll see how that works out.

Now, back to the title of the post. My friend has personal obligations – everyone has them. The problem wasn’t him or anything he did. The issue is that he doesn’t want to be an actor. I need to find fucking actors.

I’m taking my small ass youtube channel, with 15 subscribers and 3 mediocre videos, and I’m marketing it everywhere and to everyone. I’m hoping to collaborate with other filmmakers. I’m considering offering $50 for a days work, though I’m hesitant to do so because I will not see any financial return. I’ve contacted a former acting teacher, reached out through the Meetup app, and made a profile on several websites that are specific to film networking. On top of all that, I’m trying to learn how to build a motorized dolly for under $50 so that I can resell it. I figure if I can find a way to make extra cash, those funds can go straight to the film-expense jar.

Anyway, I’m doing fine. I put off making this post because it doesn’t exactly make me look like any sort of legitimate “Producer” – which is my title on so many of these websites. But I don’t really give a shit about any of that. I just want to film quality stories and grow an audience who will enjoy them. That’s it. I’ll try to update with something positive here soon.

How to Market your Ebook – 11/1 (links at the bottom)

indiana jones

Waddup, waddup.

My first week of marketing Master is officially over. And boy-oh-boy was it… uneventful. That’s not to say I didn’t learn a tremendous amount.

Doing anything new requires an enormous amount of patience and persistence. I spoke to a friend of mine about working construction projects with him, as he is a tremendously successful independent contractor. He explained to me that though he is willing, taking me along with him would most likely result in a financial loss. A project that would normally take him fifteen minutes would take me four hours or more. Now that I’m branching out into a field I have zero experience in, I understand exactly what he means.

One of the most effective ways to generate buzz for a book you plan on releasing is to release it shortly after a novella. Because I don’t have a novella, I’ve decided to take some of the short stories I’ve written on here and self-publish them in a timely manner leading up to the Nov. 20th release date for Master. Even though these stories have already been written, I will have to purchase ISBNs, e-book covers, and a membership with a program called Merchant Words (this program allows you to view the keywords consumers most often search on engines such as Amazon).

Along with releasing numerous short stories leading up to the release of Master, it’s imperative I rack up a number of bloggers to provide reviews during that same week. Unfortunately, I have yet to contact any potential reviewers. This is largely because review bloggers are bombarded for their services, by traditional and indie authors alike. The biggest obstacle we indie authors face is separating ourselves from the pack – let’s be honest, a group that accepts anybody is bound to have its share of hopeful hacks…. And I’m hoping to hack my way out, but until then, I’m one of them!

I’m happy that a plan is coming together, regardless of how behind schedule I currently am. After-all, we learn from taking taking action and making decisions. The only way to avoid the pangs of reality is to forever avoid it.

Posted below is a list of websites that I’ve found extremely helpful for marketing my e-book. I suggest for any and all authors to take advantage of the information they have to offer.

Master – 5.3

Master_eBook

Click here to start from the beginning!

Ch. 2

Ch. 3

Ch. 4

Ch. 5

“What kind of pansy-ass…”

It goes against everything I know about conduct with police officers, but I step out of my Dodge pick-up and walk over to the officer. He’s now sobbing uncontrollably.

“Easy.” I continue to creep carefully. “Hands up, don’t shoot!” I say with a laugh, hoping to get a rise out from him. He doesn’t even react.

I’m within feet of him now. His chin is in his chest as he looks downward at his gun. He’s shaking it erratically in his lap.

“Why don’t you put that gun back in its holster, Officer?”

“No, no. Everything is not alright!” He waves the gun as he screams.

I take a step back. I swear if he were any person besides a police officer, I’d grab that gun away from him.

“I can’t do this anymore, Phillip.” He says, then turns away.

My brain starts to spin, but then I realize he has my driver’s license. “Hey, relax, it’s okay.”

“No, it’s not. You won’t let me sleep, so what’s the point?”

“What?”

He points the gun at me. I dodge the shot by smacking his wrist with my forearm. I drop back a step then go sprinting toward a front lawn. Another gunshot rings out and I dive. I lie on my stomach with my hands on my head.

“Ahhh!”

I open my eyes and look up. The scream came from a little girl – she points at something behind me.

I whirl around.

“Jesus,” I say.

The police officer blew his own head off. Chunks of brain litter the pavement behind his bike, along with a fresh red pond.

Neighbors exit their homes. I have no idea what’s going on, but they won’t stop asking me. Then someone realizes there’s an officer down, and I’m the guy he pulled over.

“Stay there!” yells a middle-aged woman. She points a plunger at me.

“I can’t,” I mumble. “I didn’t, I don’t know what-”

A familiar ring – my cell phone, sitting in my driver’s seat. Loretta’s calling! I stand, sprint over, fling my dented door open, and rush to answer.

“Loretta!”

“Help.”

Call ended.

CLICK HERE FOR 6.1!

  • Thomas M. Watt

 

Master – 1.1

Master_eBook

 

 

CHAPTER 1

I sit in the coffee shop waiting on my wife, who insisted on ordering the drinks tonight. She’s over at the barista stand mixing in the half-and-half, and the only thing that concerns me is the punk hovering right next to her. Wish to God he’d stop staring at her like that.

Is what it is – if I got up and did something every time someone looked at Loretta, I’d probably be in jail right now. I’m not a criminal; not even a bad ass. I’m just a pool cleaner.

“Excuse me,” Loretta says to the punk.

He rolls his eyes then takes a step back.

Love is a strange thing. You can go your entire life thinking you know what it is, getting a whiff of it now and again, but until you’ve found the right one you’re never going to know. Then again she was only my second girlfriend, so maybe I’m not one to talk.

Loretta journeys in my direction, and the punk follows behind her. Now I’m uncomfortable.

I rise from my seat. “You need something?”

Loretta looks surprised at first, thinking the question was directed at her. When she turns to find the punk is behind her shoulder, she scurries to our table, then meekly takes the seat behind me.

“Yeah,” says the punk. “Your autograph.”

I turn to my wife. She doesn’t say much; her body language does the speaking for her. A cross of her arms and shrug of her shoulder are enough to give me a clue – give the young man what he wants and send him on his way.

CLICK HERE FOR 1.2!

  • Thomas M. Watt

Cover Art

I’ve been researching successful indie authors the past few days to get an idea of how I can maximize book sales. One point that gets hammered is the importance of having a good cover design. Word on the street is find books in the genre you are writing in, see what cover designs sell the most books, then get a cover similar to them. If it were up to me, this painting I made would be my cover for Way of the World – Michael’s Story:

Kingsley's island on fire

And I feel it would be complement the cover to Way of the World – Adam’s Story:

Upscale Saloon

Unfortunately, one truth I have learned about people is they’re much more likely to purchase a product that seems familiar to them, rather then branching out to try a product that seems unique and different. Here are my top three cover selections from the genre of Christian Fantasy:

a draw of kings resistance cover - depositphotos the gift of light - j. and g. publishing

Each of these covers was designed by a different cover artist. G. and J. publishing, Lookout Design Inc., and “Resistance” credited four various contributors.

Perhaps I’m dreaming big, because I have no idea whether these cover artists are even available, willing to work with me, or even within my budget. Still, these covers are impressive, and each contributed to a book that found its way into the top 100 bestsellers list for Christian fantasy.

What do you think? Which cover design is your favorite? Am I fooling myself by thinking the paintings I made would make good covers? Be honest now.

Looking forward to your responses.

– Thomas M. Watt

Author of “A New Kingdom

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