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  • How You and Your Character Can Stage a Comeback & Succeed

    February 8th, 2012

    Comebacks, second acts and redemption. It’s what character arcs are all about – but it’s also what life in the entertainment industry is all about. This business is 97% NO and 3% YES. You will fail 9 out of 10 times in this industry, but I truly believe that every failure gets you closer to that success.

    Characters that fall from grace that must fight their way back are people that audiences root for. And it’s the same in real life. And the themes that cause our real-life comebacks, obstacles and redemptions are universal and can be worked into your story to make your character more relatable and your story more sellable.

    Motivational Speaker Gary Ryan Blair has laid out seven steps to staging a comeback and I’ve related them back to what your characters should be doing in your story and what YOU should be doing personally in this biz.

    1. Refuse to Die – This is the attitude your characters must have, that inner motivation that no matter what happens – they will not die. It’s what makes them a hero. They accept disaster and go from there.
    2. Decide to fight – It’s the character’s acceptance of their adventure and managing of their fears through the adventure. Regroup and plot and plot again. This is also what you need to do every time you get a rejection letter.
    3. Get Mad – Use the emotion as fuel for your story and character, and for getting your own creative juices out.
    4. Get creative – Don’t JUST have your character do what’s expected – get creative.
    5. Focus on Results – Know the character’s motivation and what the ultimate physical and emotional result for your character is. But also for you writers yourselves – know what your end goal is. Is it to sell your script, is it to break in, is it to get hired for other work, is it just to finish a script and say you did it? Know your goal and focus on your results. Because if you focus on your process, it’s probably going to be very hard to succeed.
    6. Take a chance. Take a risk – You and your characters may both be taking paths that are foreign to you, but don’t be afraid of taking calculated risks.
    7. Enjoy the ride. Not only should your character and the audience enjoy the journey, but you should as well. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Look at every obstacle, setback, rejection, and constraint as an opportunity to show your character’s true colors, make a connection between them and the audience, show emotion, flesh out their arc, and really make a compelling character and story. And then do the exact same thing in your own personal life.

    Look at all the setbacks and rejections you get and wear them as badges of honor, because you can’t get rejected unless you’re in the game. So as long as you’re getting rejections, you’re still IN it. Maybe not in the way or to the degree that you’d like yet – but much like your characters and their goals, you’re working towards it.

    If it takes 100 No’s for every Yes, then every rejection letter you get, every bad pitch you give give, every pass you receive, means it’s one less you have to get before you hear YES.  

    Having a PRO-ACTIVE response to failure is how you grow and prepare better for future success. Having a REACTIVE response to failure is how you self-destruct and close doors to future success. Keep your emotions in check. You probably want to rip out the heart of the exec or consultant who gives you the response you didn’t want, but you can’t.

    Instead of jumping down an exec’s throat or blaming a consultant for not “getting” your writing, you should look at your writing and ask yourself WHY they don’t get it.  If an exec says they don’t think your project is commercial, then that is your chance to look at what’s selling and see WHY it’s not commercial so you don’t make that mistake again.

    This town is full of people who have made careers of FAILING UPWARDS – and that quite frankly is a great way to succeed in this town. At least you’re failing in the right direction. If you fail downwards, there’s nowhere to go. If you fail upwards, the sky’s the limit.

    But you can’t fail at something unless you’re actively doing it, so you’re already on your way just by failing.  So, don’t give up NOW. You’ve already gone through the failure, you’ve already progressed, you’ve already gotten further than 90% of the other writers trying to do what you’re doing – so just keep your head down and keep progressing towards success.  Create your own comeback.

    **February 10th starts my 90-Day Teleseminar Program “90 DAYS TO A SCREENWORTHY SCRIPT.” In weekly interactive 60-minute Teleseminars, I will personally guide you through the writing process and cover everything you need to know to write and finish a more cinematic script! You’ll also get worksheets, exercises, weekly motivational tips, some great prizes, and we have lots of GREAT Industry Guest Speakers joining us!  For more information and to sign up TODAY, please click here – http://90dayscript.eventbrite.com

  • 100 Day Challenge – Fave Video of the Week

    November 4th, 2011

    By Danny Manus

    This blog is especially for my 100 Day Challenge Program participants, but also applies to everyone else as well.

    My favorite video of the week and one of my favorites from the whole series thus far, is not just about YOU but also your CHARACTER. And it’s the video about Comebacks, Second Acts and Redemption.

    This is what your character arcs are all about. Characters that fall from grace in some way that must fight their way back. The themes that cause our real-life comebacks, obstacles and redemptions, are the same universal themes that can (and should) be worked into your story to make your character more relatable and your story more universal – meaning sellable overseas.

    The 7 steps laid out in the video to stage a comeback are incredibly relevant to what your characters should be doing. And quite frankly, what YOU should be doing personally as you try to break in and work in this business.

    1. Refuse to Die – this is the attitude your characters must have, that inner motivation that no matter what happens – they will not die. It’s what makes them a hero. They accept disaster and then go from there. You need to have this attitude in your own life as well!
    2. Decide to fight – it’s the acceptance of the adventure we talked about and managing their (and your) fears through the adventure. Regroup and plot and plot again. This is what your character should be doing – and also what you need to do every time you get a rejection letter.
    3. Get Mad – this is one of the parts of the 5 stages of grief your character experiences that we talked about a few weeks ago. Use the emotion as fuel for your story and character.
    4. Get Creative. Duh! Hello! This means don’t JUST have your character do what’s expected – get creative with it. Stay natural to your story, but find creative and visual ways for your character to do what they need to. And, get creative in how you’re breaking in and forging new relationships and promoting yourself and your work.
    5. Focus on Results – know the character’s motivation and what the ultimate physical and emotional result for your character is. But also for you writers yourselves – know what YOUR end goal is. Is it to sell your script, is it to break in, is it to get hired for other work, is it just to finish a script and say you did it? Is it to make this a career or just to have a creative outlet?   Know your goal and focus on your results. Because if you focus on your process, it’s probably going to be very hard to see the end goal and succeed.
    6. Take a chance. Take a risk. This goes for your characters too. Your characters are taking a path they may not know.
    7. Enjoy the ride. Not only should your character enjoy the journey, or at least how they get out of it, but the audience must enjoy the ride. And while the journey of breaking into Hollywood is not always fun or enjoyable, if you don’t find the business an enjoyable ride – then you won’t be in it for very long.

    And as the video says, look at every obstacle, setback, rejection, and constraint as an opportunity to show your character’s true colors, make a connection between them and the audience, show emotion, flesh out their arc, and really make a compelling character and story.

    And for you as real live people, the same should apply. Look at all the setbacks and rejections you get and wear them as badges of honor, because you can’t get rejected unless you’re in the game. So as long as you’re getting rejections, you’re still IN it. Maybe not in the way or to the degree that you’d like yet – but much like your characters and their goals, you’re working towards it.  Good luck and keep writing!!

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