Spreadsheeting a Novel

For several weeks now, I’ve been planning my first novel.

Originally, this was going to be a screenplay. However, the main protagonist is 80 years old, and the moviegoing audience likely wouldn’t match her demographically. On practically every website and in practically every screenwriting book I encounter, it’s pounded into my brain that the lead characters must be young. People like to see reflections of themselves onscreen, and the older cohorts just don’t seem to go out to theatres. (They’ve likely learned by now that they can afford to wait until the DVD comes out.)

A synopsis: Anna, celebrating her 80th birthday alone in the 2040s, learns that her pension has run out and she has only two months before she’s evicted. She’s offered “dechronification”, a backwards-aging procedure, but first she must go through a FIVR (full-immersion virtual reality) program in which she confronts her demons. Along the way, she learns valuable lessons about herself — proving that you’re never too old to learn.

I’m using some Excel spreadsheet ideas to plan it out. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I do have a Save the Cat genre. I’m pretty sure I’m dealing with a “Fool Triumphant”, or a novel in which an underdog character proves her worth to the world and — most importantly — to herself. I originally thought it was a “Rites of Passage” tale, but now I think I’ve got my genre down. As for its conventional genre, it’s obviously science fiction, but with a smattering of period drama as Anna faces her past.

I hope to finish it by the spring. Then I can have a reason to read those emails I get about how to find an agent!

Premiere Week

Hi! Welcome to my website. How appropriate that it should have its debut on Season Premiere week on the networks! For tonight, I’m looking forward to watching The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, and the Magnum, P.I. reboot. I’ll be reviewing at least one of these shows — stay tuned.

I’m also season-premiering my latest writing class, UCLA Extension’s “Beginning Writing for the One-Hour Spec” with Erica Byrne. This past summer, I completed “Beginning Writing for the Half-Hour Spec” with Claudia Grazioso, and out of that sprung the American Housewife outline on my samples page. Claudia was generous in her feedback and she knows what she’s doing, so we worked on my outline until it popped and bubbled. (And it has a goat in it.) I hope to take the second half of the class next term and flesh it out into a full teleplay.

Anyway, welcome, grab some refreshments, and dig in! I hope you enjoy the journey with me.