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Penguin

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About Penguin

  • Birthday 04/07/1985
  1. Joining A Union

    As actor Jeff Bosley says, it's "show business," not "show friendship." Everyone has to start somewhere, and studios are going to go with the people they trust to pull in audiences. I don't expect to be an overnight success, but I do plan to finish my current script ideas and work on building a "portfolio" I can share with people who have connections. Hollywood is mostly about proving you have what it takes to draw in audiences. Growing up, I didn't pay attention to movies beyond who the actors were. Then I shared an apartment with a film editor student, and he turned me on to directors, editors, writers, special effects people...it got to the point I recognized a few of the "Assistants to Mr./Mrs./Ms. ..." I can also usually spot certain effects styles, so I could tell you if the effects were done by ILM or another outfit. What I've noticed is it doesn't take a huge budget to tell a good story. I've seen low-budget movies that take place in one room, and they're good. Unfortunately I also see the potential for a writer to get nailed to the wall because a good story was turned into a bad movie. Yet I'd like to think that even having a good script turned into a flop doesn't destroy a writer's chances at being picked up. I doubt I'll run into Dean Devlin or David Mamet at my local theater, but you never know. I'm sure I'll meet somebody.
  2. Joining A Union

    Thank you. I have been looking at scripts for good and bad movies, good scripts for bad movies, bad scripts for good movies, basically anything I can get my flippers on that falls remotely within my interests. I don't want to work exclusively with Christian production, because I personally see a lot of "preaching to the choir" there, and I'm opposed to evangelistic messages taking priority over a good story, which happens a lot in Christian fiction. To clarify, if someone wanted to do something like Passion of the Christ, I'd really enjoy it, because it was told as "this is what happened." It's not a movie made to evangelize a crowd. Contrast that with God is Not Dead, where good storytelling died on the altar of evangelism, and it ticked off and alienated people. I've got no problem putting Christian messages in my fiction, so long as good storytelling takes precedence. On the flip side, I wouldn't want to work on a movie with an agenda against Christianity, either. I would not, for example, write a movie that stereotypes all people in a given demographic as being single-minded. Not every white person was racist in the 1960s. Not every youth was against the Vietnam War. Not all men are misogynists. Not all police officers are out to shoot black people. Not all people who ascribe to a given political or social ideology are entirely wrong or evil, nor are they entirely right or good. I would not write a movie that pushes any agenda. I want to write action movies, dramas, comedies, historical stories, romances, thrillers, even horror, all from a standpoint of, "Tell the truth with a good story first and foremost." You want zombies? Fantastic. I'll write zombies, and it'll be a good story, where the characters act like real people and reap what they sow in realistic ways. As in life, sometimes people get away with doing bad things, but I won't show good as bad or bad as good. Sin is sin, and what's not sin is not sin. A good story shows those things for what they are, regardless of what anyone thinks. My plan is to watch a new movie every week, read screenplays, talk to people with an interest in movies, learn everything I can about the craft, and of course, write. My problem with the guilds is that they're expensive, but I'll continue to research and explore my options. Maybe I can find a mentor who can walk me through the guild process and teach me what I need to know. I've got a pseudonym I'd like to write under, and that might change depending on the genre I'm working with. At least with novels, it's difficult to cross genres in the traditional publishing houses while using the same name. If that's not the case with screenplays, I'm happy to use the one pseudonym. Again, thank you for the advice, links, and videos.
  3. Joining A Union

    Thank you. Those articles confirm I'm on a good path. Lately I've been writing, reading screenplays, writing, looking for books on the craft, and writing. Networking will be difficult, just because I've no idea where to start.
  4. Joining A Union

    I've been giving some thought and prayer to pursuing a career as a screenwriter. Given my personal hurdles, I struggle with writing short stories and novels. It's not that I can't, nor am I bad at writing prose, but I find screenwriting more interesting and engaging. The problem is, I know essentially nothing about how to become a published screenwriter. I do know there's a Writers Guild (West and East), but my research tells me there's not a lot they can do for me at present besides empty my wallet. So where do I start? I'm going to continue writing, of course, but once I've got some work completed, how am I supposed to know where to ask about publications, submissions, etc. that won't cost me a leg and a flipper?
  5. My Perspective On Christian Fiction

    I intended this as a blog post, so if this is in the wrong spot, I'd appreciate anyone who could point me in the right direction. For the better part of a year, I managed a church library. Most of it was books for children, Christian romance, and topical non-fiction. I began the job with gusto, eager to enjoy the books I read. About eight months later, just the mention of "Christian fiction" was enough to make me twitch. So what happened? In short, Christian fiction happened. Before I get into the specifics, let me be clear: I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe we should use our skills and interests to glorify God. My goal here isn't to be mean, but to examine my own journey from someone who was eager to read books that glorified God to someone who can't stomach Christian fiction. First of all, let's define what "Christian fiction" is. That may seem self-evident, but I find it helpful to define terms. A Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian may talk about Jesus, but they have a significant difference of opinion on His identity. So, what is Christian fiction? I submit it is not the same as other genres. Let's use movies as an example. Alien and WALL-E are science fiction, but definitely not intended for the same audience. The former is meant for adults, while the latter is meant for children. So it is with Christian fiction. The fact is, most non-Christians don't read Christian fiction. In my experience, I've never met a non-Christian who had ever bothered with it. Christian fiction, then, is intended for a Christian audience. Within Christian fiction, there seem to be two sub-types: evangelistic and non-evangelistic fiction. In evangelistic fiction, there's a point where a character is presented with the Gospel, guided through some form of "the sinner's prayer," and is met with the decision to give up their old life. Non-evangelistic Christian fiction doesn't include that Gospel presentation, but is often clean in its presentation of its content. Neither of those types is inherently bad, but I feel they are misguided. Let's deal with evangelistic fiction first. As I've said, Christian fiction is intended for Christians. Consequently, it seems redundant to include a Gospel presentation in detail, as it is often laid out in such novels. Christians are already aware of such presentations, so that part of the story can be very boring. I liken it to telling someone how to brush their teeth. Most people who can read also know how to brush their teeth; whether they practice that knowledge is a different matter. But if a novel went through a thorough presentation on oral hygiene, you'd probably be tempted to skip it. That's how those Gospel presentations feel. They are also often unrealistic. I've read many where the characters have a nearly scripted dialog. In real-life experiences that involve salvation, I've never found anyone who accepts what they're told about Christ point blank. Even the children I've talked to have thrown me for a loop. In fifth grade, someone brought up the problem of evil, though neither of us knew that's what it was called. I didn't have an answer. I've also never met anyone who accepted Christ in a wave of emotion, as is common in Christian fiction. I'm not saying it can't happen, but I've never seen a drug addict quit their addiction overnight and become overtaken by emotional change in the midst of accepting salvation. Yet every Gospel presentation I've read in a novel has some emotional reaction for the characters that falls into melodrama. In short, the problems with evangelistic fiction are that it targets the wrong audience, and it is often unrealistic. The message of salvation is meant for non-Christians, a group that doesn't read Christian fiction much at all. Consequently, the Gospel message in a novel falls on "deaf ears," in a sense, and it feels like a cheat when a novel halts itself to insert a sermon. When it comes to non-evangelistic Christian fiction, such books could be labeled as "safe." That's fine, except it can be unrealistic. Such books might be appropriate for children, but as an adult I find them to be poor storytelling. We don't draw pictures of the crucifixion of Christ with complete accuracy, especially when we teach children about it. The fact Jesus was naked and beat to hamburger isn't absolutely essential for children to understand why Christ died. But what about adults? It is an historical fact Jesus was beat to a bloody pulp, then crucified naked, and made to suffer further. Those details are included in Scripture, and not for idle curiosity. By those details, the account of Christ's crucifixion is confirmed, as is His resurrection. There comes a point where we should put away childish ignorance and be made to understand how agonizing Christ's suffering truly was. In some Christian fiction, the reality of the world is washed through a "clean" filter. I remember one where the villain murdered people, smoked, and drank, but never lusted nor swore. In the same book, the heroes never sinned. Not once. They would face down temptation with inhuman willpower, and even when the main character's wife was murdered, the main character never once thought of revenge. To me, that's flat and unrealistic. It's idyllic, and truly bad storytelling, especially when it comes to fiction for adults. There's a reason the Bible goes into some detail about specific sins. Song of Solomon is a steamy dialog that, if translated into modern terms, would be banned in churches--and it's not even sinful. The Church at large has done a bang up job of classifying a lot of non-sinful things as immoral, and the result is a safe zone where Christians feel righteously offended when reality crowds that space. Todd Agnew wrote a song called "My Jesus," in which he references Jesus' love for "thieves and sluts and liars." Because Anew said "sluts," local Christian radio stations and stores refused to play the song or sell the album. The new "sin" is to offend, and a lot of Christian fiction avoids that sin at all costs, in the name of "glorifying God." That brings up the question: what does it mean to glorify Him? In Hebrew, the word translated as "glorify" means "to make heavy." We might say that glorifying God makes Him noticeable. So what kinds of things make God noticeable? Christ said we should be a light to the world. He also said that when we cause that light to shine, people will glorify God because of our good works. Looking to Christ as an example, we could say He was a preacher in His time on Earth. If we had to give Him a job title, I think that would fit. He called a board of twelve disciples, but He preached to a general audience. He didn't expect the crowds of thousands to abandon their jobs and follow Him around like the disciples. Yet He did say, "Follow Me." To twelve specific guys, Jesus said those words literally. "Peter, put down your net. You're coming with Me. Judas, get your butt over here. There's work to be done." To the crowds of thousands, He said, "Acknowledge who I Am, and act on that knowledge in your daily life." He gave them specific examples of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. As Christians, we glorify God by being our true selves. I could go around preaching, but that's not what God has called me to do. I'm called to be a writer in a fallen world, facing the darkness and giving hope in it. If someone asks me what my hope is, I will tell them it's in Jesus. I'm not ashamed of that one iota. Yet as a writer, doing the best job I know how means telling a good story. If I put an agenda like evangelism ahead of telling a good story, I'm not doing my job to the best of my ability. If I sanitize reality for the sake of being "clean," I'm not doing my job to the best of my ability. Having said all of that, my last insight is this: Go with God. If God tells you to write evangelistic fiction or clean fiction, do it. But if what I've said has given you food for thought, take time to digest it, and see if it compels you to change the way you tell stories. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. I'm not out to kick anyone in the shins for doing as God leads, but if you write Christian fiction, I probably won't read it. That's okay. It's okay to dislike stuff. Blessings on ya, but I'm just not interested in Christian fiction.
  6. Writer's Software

    I like this, a lot.
  7. 32. American. Current WIP is scifi, like "Resident Evil" meets "How I Met Your Mother."

  8. Writer's Software

    I use Scrivener. It's not strictly Christian, nor is it anti-Christian in any way. It is what you make of it. I like that it handles the formatting so I don't have to futz with it, and it has good compatibility with Word and other word processors. It also lets you keep track of notes, research, versions of your manuscript, and word goals to keep you working efficiently. The trial version is free and allows full, unhindered access for a limited time, but the full program is well worth it. You can also get discounts through events like NaNoWriMo, if you meet the goal in November and use the NaNoWriMo website to track your progress.

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