Tuesday Chat: Shauna Becker talks #loglinechallenge!


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shaunabecker

What do you write?

The occasional short story but mainly scripts. I tried to write my first feature when I was about thirteen, a political thriller about assassins and conspiracies and the first (totally kickass action hero) female president karate chopping her way to the truth. Sadly, I never finished it. Then puberty hit and it morphed into a romance between her and the head of her secret service detail.

Hey, I guess that’s when I learned that random genre flipping will be the death of a script! Also my awesome heroine turned into a D.I.D and I was disgusted and didn’t know enough about character to fix it. Believe it or not, even though I was writing it, it never occurred to me to take those scenes out. I didn’t really understand the concept of ‘editing’ means removing things that don’t work. I thought editing was just spell checking at that point in my life.

How long have you been writing? Where did it all begin?

I started writing when I was in elementary school. I loved essay assignments. I didn’t understand why everyone else complained. Everyone else: Ugh, a page and a half. Me: WOW I can round up to two pages! I was totally Hermione Granger and turned in extra pages all the time. I’m sure my teachers hated me.

I did start out with my eyes on Hollywood young. When I was about ten or twelve years old I pitched my first TV episode. I was madly in love with Star Trek: Voyager, so naturally, I wrote Paramount about my GREAT idea for an episode with Tom Paris reprogramming the holodeck to play Mario Kart and ending a quadrant destroying war by letting the aliens shoot green shells at each other.

I was a kid! I thought that’s how shows got made! Clearly, they failed to see my genius. But maybe they just couldn’t clear the rights to Nintendo. I lived in hope for a shockingly long time. Like, years. I guess that was a sign I was meant to be a writer. In my head no reply really means ‘yes they just hadn’t gotten around to telling me yet.’ Oh, the eternal hope of maybe *this* great idea will stick to the wall of success!

I’ve always been fascinated with movies and TV. I remember working out the three act structure using Voyager without knowing what it was called. I just realized there was a pattern.

The first ten minutes was the Setup and to pay attention to anyone introduced then because nine times out of ten, one of them would be the villain unless we also met a previously unknown shifty-eyed crew member who would be the villain unless they became a victim. The middle bit between ten minutes and forty-two minutes was when Stuff Happened because of the first ten minutes. At about forty-two minutes in, Connections would be Made and Risks would be Taken and roughly eight minutes before the end there would be One Final Crisis and the crew would triumph.

It was the three act structure and I applied it every show I watched and they all followed the pattern. I carefully explained my discovery to my parents. They carefully explained maybe I should watch ‘I Love Lucy’ for research to see if an older show fit my pattern. I felt like I had discovered a new law of nature. I named it Shauna’s law of good shows. I was Bill Nye the Science Guy of TV.

Then I was crushed and heartbroken when a random trip to the book store revealed that it wasn’t something I discovered and there were piles of books detailing all about the three act structure of storytelling. Heartbroken I tell you, heartbroken. That was also my second case of outrage because they stole my idea. The first case happened when I was about five and thought I invented egg bacon and cheese sandwiches. I felt like McDonalds ripped me off. I’m very strange. I’ve embraced that about myself.

So, what made you decide to take part in the #loglinechallenge?

I tried out the first one on a lark and came up with about six loglines that I thought were worth outlining and now I’ve got a folder called ‘Ideas’, as in every file is just a logline with a few extra notes jotted down. If I work up an outline then the ‘lil baby logline graduates to its own named folder.

It’s a good thing to have a big file of random ideas. It makes me feel productive.

#Loglinechallenge forces me to look beyond my instant knee-jerk default of evil clown/serial killer/stalker/creeptastic plot. It’s just so easy to go with BUT THEN HE’S TRAPPED IN AN ELEVATOR WITH AN INEPT MURDERER TRYING TO DISPOSE OF A BODY IN A CARPET. I imagine in that scenario eye contact would *not* made.

Have you found it easy, so far, to come up with an idea/logline every day?

Kinda sorta. Some of them are more of a challenge, and I’m trying to not have every idea be horror, which is a challenge and also a bit weird because I don’t actually watch or write that much horror… but I tend to make everything scary in some way.

In what ways has the process of working from a prompt challenged you?

To write every day. I am the WORST one for frittering away my writing time on other things.

Have you found working from prompts to be a good way of exercising creativity?

Yes. I’ll have my first idea, then try to think of another one that’s slightly more original.

Has the #loglinechallenge inspired you to embark on any new projects?

I may or may not have a comedy going about a down on their luck carnival led by a retired surgeon acquiring the world’s only living two headed calf…

Do you feel you’ve improved your logline-writing as a result of taking part?

Yup. Condense, condense, condense. Y’know, I should probably apply that philosophy to some of my previous answers.

What is your favourite entry so far and why?

The one I just posted because I DID IT and I WROTE! TAKE THAT time suck facebook/tumblr/email/other email/phone/wordswithfriends/dirty laundry/clean laundry/all the laundry/dishes/dog/cat/sweep/work/people/stuff/people/drama/roller derby/sleep/walking dead/orange is the new black/GoT/483 movies on netflix queue/garden/sleep/all the sleep!

A carnival full of pitiful acts lucks out when their busker acquires the world’s only living three headed calf. But their luck runs out when a band of reneged clowns steal the calf for their show.

Would you recommend the #loglinechallenge to other writers?

Yes because it helps. It might seem weird (and I admit that I am a weird individual) but it helps me focus long enough to write and it’s only two or three sentences. I can always write two sentences! They might suck but who cares?

It’s worth gaining the ideas more than the words. I focus on getting the words out but the ideas are what will excite my imagination and make me want to write more words about that magnificent idea.

Shauna Becker grew up in a tiny industrial suburb right outside of Houston, Texas. She played around with writing while pursuing a respectable ‘legit’ career. Then she ran away with her then-boyfriend to a land far far away… San Marcos, Texas. Several legit careers later ranged from putting labels on wine bottles to putting shoes on horses. Then she decided to put words on a page. Then-boyfriend has been upgraded to now husband and they live in Oklahoma for his job. She writes mostly fantasy and shamelessly spoils her two cats and dog.

Connect with Shauna:

Blog: shaunajbecker.blogspot.com
Twitter: @ShaunaRulz

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