Sunday, July 10, 2011

Suspenseful Seven-Sentence Sunday -- Spec Script

Okay, so it's not seven sentences, but this week, it's what I want to share with you. I recently completed a spec script for the TV police drama "Southland", one of my favorite shows ("Breaking Bad" is another). In case you aren't familiar with Southland, each episode starts with a flash forward in time, giving viewers a sneak peek at something that will happen later in the episode. The action freezes, and the voice of an anonymous male (ie. a character we never meet), gives us a hint at the theme of the program. Here's my opening -- please note that I know it's not set up here in proper screenwriting format, but my spec script does follow the standard. HTML coding just ain't my thing.



Smoke blots out the afternoon sun. Blue and red lights flash on the faces of TERRIFIED BYSTANDERS.

In the background, a building burns. FIRE FIGHTERS and POLICE OFFICERS try to restore order to the crowd. PARAMEDICS carry INJURED WOMEN on stretchers to waiting vehicles.

SAMMY and BEN watch from a distance.

I should have seen this coming.

He turns his head at the sound of an approaching SIREN and sees SAL bolt from his car just beyond the perimeter of the crime scene. Sal leaves his vehicle running, leaves his door open. He pushes his way through the throng. Sammy intervenes, blocks Sal.

What are you doing?

Get out of my way.

Sal breaks free of Sammy's grip and races toward the burning building.


Some cops believe they should have as much authority in their homes as they do on the street. Right now, Detective Salinger doesn't have authority anywhere.

Southland has been given the green light for season 4 on TNT, but I'm not sure when the season begins. While you're waiting, read the work of other suspenseful seven-sentence Sunday writers here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Suspenseful Seven-Sentence Sunday -- Found Writing

I was cleaning out the files on my desktop the other day, and opened a document I only barely remember creating. I think I had a dream about this start to a story. The document contained only these seven sentences:
She balances a small mirror in her left hand, focusing entirely on herself. With her right hand, she pencils brown arches over her eyes. She waits whenever there’s a bump in the road or the bus driver stops suddenly. She picks up the curve of the arch several times, which rather ruins the effect. She bites her tongue -- there's a silver ball pierced through it -- to aid in the procedure, as if the pain she inflicts upon herself improves her concentration. Eventually, she sees that I’m watching her, and her bright red lips bend like licorice as she suggests in a whisper a rather filthy activity, one I will spend a good portion of my afternoon imagining her doing with me. She texts and twitters for the rest of the ride to Manhattan, and I hope it’s all about me.
I find the protagonist quite creepy, and I will have to give some thought as to what horrible deeds he's up to.

Make sure you check out the other "Suspenseful Seven-Sentence Sunday" writers. I'm sure they have some delightful mischief to offer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Suspenseful Seven-Sentence Sunday -- One Day Late!

What better way to keep you in suspense than by posting my Sunday entry a day late?

I have as good an excuse as I can come up with -- I was in the final round of a screenwriting competition. What I love about this kind of competition is that it pushes you to invent something that you might not have come up with on your own. I had fun creating some desperate characters, and I just sent in my entry a few minutes ago. Now, I want to forget about it. I've learned not to obsess about competition entries, but just to move on and get busy doing something else. Otherwise, it feels like staring at a lottery ticket until the draw date.

Last week, I revised a short story about a young girl caught in the middle of a bank robbery. She tries to imagine the robbers as something other than they are, but they're so evil that she can only see them as a different type of bad. As this scene begins, she's on the floor, hidden underneath her mother's cloak.

Each man pointed a gun at the crowd and ordered everyone not to look at them, but Esther could not resist. She lifted a corner of her mother’s cloak.

Esther watched the men stride into the bank, and with every step, their bodies transformed. Their ragged camouflage jackets became shiny green scales, their thick bodies grew wiry, their guns became thick black fingers. They were no longer men, but appeared to Esther as snakes with arms. They shimmered with evil, their heads darted furtively, yet Esther could not look away. The creatures’ eyes were dark and menacing, and venom dripped from their gold fangs.

You'll find other far more punctual Suspenseful Seven-Sentence writers at .

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Little Victories

I'm delighted to have made it to round #2 of Cyberspace Open, a fun screenwriting competition.

Congrats to all the other semi-finalists!

Monday, March 14, 2011

CBC Short Story Competition

The CBC is asking readers to vote for their favorite opening lines of short stories in a current competition. Which story gets your vote?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

7 Suspenseful Sentences Sunday

I wrote a short story called "The Curve of His Shoulder" during the Kenyon Review's Writers Workshop in 2009. (If you're a writer and have never given yourself the gift of a writing retreat, do consider it.)

The story takes place in the woods, and examines how differently two people can see one object. Matthew is a photographer from Dallas, out on a day trip. He sees a deer in the forest.
In a clearing to Matthew’s right, a young man steps out from behind a tree. Handsome, Matthew notes, tall and lean. Matthew acknowledges the man with the upward half of a nod, then points at the deer. The young man responds with an appreciative smile and a slow thumbs-up. Matthew, who craves the isolation of the West Texas hills, is now thankful for the man’s company. A pleasant smile, Matthew thought, and he is happy to share his deer with a fellow human. He focuses his camera on the deer’s profile, and zooms in so close he can see the mist of the deer’s breath on its nostrils.
A shot splits the silence. The deer’s head snaps sharply to the right as the bullet pushes its narrow skull toward Matthew.

This story will likely never be published, yet it's still one of my favorites. Do you have a story that will live only with you?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Follow this writer!

A very talented YA author I know is looking for followers for her blog. Seems that publishing houses these days place a strong emphasis on their authors' social media savvy.

Visit and sign up to follow.