I’m delighted to welcome Pasha Adam with his guest post….
A 12 Step Guide for Turning a Bad Day into a Bouncing Baby Book (or Screenplay)
By Pasha Adam
For reasons I don’t fully understand but have always explained away with a God complex, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Since I was fifteen, I’ve attended screenwriting expos, read writing books, listened to writers’ commentaries and podcasts. But I was never really happy with the stuff I was writing.
And then, two years ago, that all changed. I started approaching writing in a way specific to me. The ideas started to flow and I began churning things out. Since then, I’ve completed two novels, a handful of screenplays, and am in the process of redrafting another two manuscripts.
I now want to share the twelve steps that helped me take my writing to the next level.
- Embrace self-absorption. Imagine everything that happens in the world — from a friend’s marriage to a global economic crisis — is about you in some capacity. Now start living that as if it’s a reality. Trust me on this.
- Now, have a bad day. The worse you can make it, the better. Lost a loved one? Now lose your car keys. This’ll help you think in metaphor.
- Once that bad day is in the rear view, keep it alive by dwelling on it past the point of what is mentally healthy. You can make this special by morbidly walking around the places that remind you of that bad day. Or keep it simple, by dimming the lights and sitting down with a Scotch. The aim here is to really internalize it and create a sense of longing and nostalgia. By doing this, you’re creating the kind of emotional turmoil that’ll get you through that first draft.
- Now that you don’t know where that bad day ends and you begin, you’ll find yourself organically creating narratives about it. “What if I’d done this? What if I’d done that?” That kinda stuff. Ask these “what if” questions long enough, and eventually you’ll start to imagine a parallel universe where things turned out differently. Maybe better, maybe worse. This will lead to a story idea.
- You don’t want people to think the story is about you though. So you need to start dressing it up. This is where genre comes in. Your bad day involves your bank balance plummeting into the red? Turn it into a horror story. Or maybe you found out your loved ones have been lying to you for months? Mazel tov, you’ve hit the noir lottery.
- Start structuring that into a story. If you’ve followed steps 1 through 5 correctly, your first act will usually hue closely to your real life bad day. Act two will be about indulging those “what ifs” and tearing them down, and then act three will be about finding some kind of catharsis. If you do this right, you’ll save yourself a boatload of therapy.
- Now you may want to flesh your story out with metaphors and symbolism to make it extra literary. This is where those lost car keys come in.
- And now you write.
- And then you rewrite.
- And you rewrite some more.
- And then the rewriting makes you so miserable your original bad day starts to look pretty good.
- And then you’re done. Congratulations, you now have an eternal reminder of a day you’d sooner forget.
Pasha Adam oscillates between Los Angeles, Toronto, and London, and prefers to communicate alternately via sarcasm, small talk, and empty platitudes. He is the author of American Asshole and Keep Santa Monica Clean: A Westside Noir. They will be available from October 25, 2016.
“As an office worker with a mediocre middle class existence, I’m giving you the opportunity to give me the opportunity of a better one.
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– River Conway, “Save an A$$hole”
River Conway grew up believing a lie, the lie that you can be anything you want to be as long as you put your mind to it. After losing his twenties to an office cubicle in the middle of nowhere, River reaches breaking point and launches a self-aware crowdfunding campaign asking for one million dollars, embarking on a journey that has him ricocheting between the sublime and the ridiculous.
New to LA and fresh off his first spec sale, a screenwriter sits alone at Cabana, a bar in Santa Monica, California. Through a cloud of cigarette smoke, he spies a girl. Their eyes meet and they connect instantly.
If the screenwriter’s story were to end on this moment, it would have a happy ending.
Alas, shit happens as it is wont to do and four years later, a storm is brewing over Hollywood. Cyber-attacks are decimating the studio system, exposing the secrets of everyone within it.
The screenwriter—now a disaffected entertainment news blogger—unwinds with a whiskey in Cabana after a day spent investigating the hacks.
That is, until Grace Chase—the girl from four years prior, now the star of television’s Vampire Queen—requests his help when she’s blackmailed with incriminating photos.
He’s reluctant to oblige. But Grace needs him and he’s powerless to deny her, embarking on an odyssey across Los Angeles that will have him questioning everything about the girl he once knew and the industry that’s defined his life.