Futurist Resources

Google Glass

The Meta 1—an alternate to Google Glass. This will work in 3-D and provide augmented reality.

Sergey Brin from Google talks at TED 2013

Samsung Smart TV Scroll down and play the video. You operate the TV by moving your hand in the air and talking to it. But you can still use the remote.

String is an augmented reality program you download to your iPad or iPhone. Aim your device at the target (making sure the black border stays onscreen) and it triggers a routine that adds to what you're seeing through the eye of the camera. You can move your device around and interact with what the program displays. You can also rotate the target.

3-D Printer Star Trek's Replicator—Printing a working wrench.

Kurzweil.net has daily reports on emerging technologies. You can subscribe the their email newsletter. Fascinating stuff.

Writing Resources

In The Successful Novelist, David Morrell has written one of the best books on writing and the writer's life I've read. It's both informative and engaging, leaving the reader with the feeling of having been given great advice by a good friend. I highly recommend this book.

Author and Editor, John Robert Marlow on how to write an Elevator Pitch (also known as a Tagline, Cutline, Logline and Blurb*). It's the 25-words-or-fewer sentence you use when people ask you what your book is about. This is a very good resource—and free!

* A "Blurb" is the 1-3 paragraphs you read on the back of a book. But since some people use it interchangeably with elevator pitch, I thought I'd better include it here.

Here's another one by John Robert Marlow on self-editing This is a very good resource—also free!

Author and Agent, Noah Lukeman's book The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

Jessica Page Morrell's book Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected

Scott Meredith's book Writing to Sell - Some of the advice isn't pertinent for the current publishing business. But his take on how to capture and hold a reader's interest is right on the money!

Why are my short stories (and books) being rejected by agents, editors and publishers?

How to write a compelling first chapter Sad to say the original site is no longer there. But this link gives you lots to work with.

John Lescroart and Paul McHugh discuss the discipline of writing and how to avoid writer's block among other things. Scroll down until you see 2010, click the movie and pay attention!

The Hollywood Formula

(Edited by Jonathan Stars)
Lou Anders – Hugo-award-winning editorial director from Pyr books
Writing Excuses 6.18 – October 2, 2011 Listen to the podcast

Purpose: To squeeze the maximum emotion out of the movie-going audience. It works with novels, too.

This version of "the formula" was created by Dan Decker. He had a career as a screenplay fixer.

3 Main Characters
Protagonist – Wants something concrete (not to be happy or pretty or rich). It must have a definite achievable goal. To have someone fall in love with me so I will be happy. To win the game show so I will be rich. To rob the casino of the gangster who stole my girlfriend
Antagonist – Person who places obstacles in the way of the protagonist. It does not necessarily mean "the bad guy." His goals are diametrically opposed to the protagonist. The antagonist may not be the person you expect.
Relationship or Dynamic Character – Does not mean the lead is having a romantic relationship with this character. It is the person who accompanies the protagonist on his journey. Typically it's someone who has "been there, done that" before, and they have wisdom to communicate to the protagonist. They are the person to whom or from whom the film/novel is articulated. There'll be a conversation in the film between the two of them that articulates the film's theme. And at the end of the film, they will revisit their conversation, and they will do what's called the reconciliation of the protagonist and the antagonist.

The film is done when the protagonist:
1) achieves his goal,
2) defeats the antagonist and…
3) reconciles/reprises the theme with the relationship character.
The closer those three events are to each other, the stronger the emotional impact the film will have.

The Greeks established the three act structure thousands of years ago. That's the reason it's still used—it works!
As a generality, let's assume a 2-hour film. One page per minute of film makes a 120-page screenplay.
Break that into 3 acts
Act I – 30 pages – you introduce the 3 characters and what they want. On pages 11-13 (or 11 minutes in or about 1/3 of the way into the first act) you have "the fateful decision." It's the moment in which the protagonist is presented with a choice, and he must choose the thing that will make a film. (In the Matrix they had 3 fateful decisions; the cell phone, the pill, staying in the car.)
Act II – 60 pages – which culminates in the Low Point
Act III – 30 pages – The Final Battle – it's the fight from the low point to the end
The proportions hold regardless of the screenplay length

The way it plays out across a film
The first act and a half (up to page 60) is about asking questions. After that, you should start answering questions. So from 60-120 is question answering.
Page 90 (end of Act II) is called the Low Point. That is where the protagonist is the farthest possible from his/her goal. [James Bond and the Harlem Globetrotters always win. For the Globtrotters it's how far away from the basket they can shoot and still get the ball in. The tension in Bond is about what he has to go through to reach his goal. In Midnight Run with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodon, Grodon is in the desert and 100 cop cars come over the horizon – now that's a low point.]

Stargate and Die Hard are unique in that they're all 3rd act films. The first two acts are done in about 10 minutes with 1.5 hour final battle. So you can see, there is some play in the formula.

Short story advice, but pertinent to novels, too
Editors give your story about three pages (assuming they make it past the first three paragraphs!) before they know they're not going to buy your story. You have to hook them before that. You have to make them care about your characters. And it's not just about putting your reader (editor) in the middle of some action. We don't necessarily need to know the person's job. We need to know what he's fighting for. All this needs to be clear in the first three paragraphs. Will his weapons be enough? Does he have enough experience using them? What is his ultimate goal?
Find out why your short stories (and books) are being rejected by agents, editors and publishers.

Watch out for too many generic characters too soon. Readers can't keep track. It can work to have a large number of character, if you give them some unique characteristics—but certainly not if they're generic.
Something unique must happen fairly quickly.
Don't hide your central concept for The Big Reveal (because you're afraid the readers won't have any more interest in the story). If the concept is good enough, it'll keep the reader's attention.
Incidentally, this is why a lot of editors love reading stories by non-American authors—it seems like every other story I see features a white guy in a detective’s office, or a white guy scientist in his lab, or a white rich guy regretting his past actions, or something. They’re all generically American, almost a blank space that we’re expected to fill in with our culture. [This is Lou Anders talking here. My comment is, I have to write what I know. I wasn't born in India or China. I can study the culture and I have an imagination, but I probably can't write a whole novel from that perspective. I feel my job is to show the white guy and find a way to make him interesting. But Lou is also warning that you shouldn't leave a blank space. You have to show whatever culture you're writing about in enough detail that it has real life to it. And just because the pieces Lou likes are in another culture doesn't make them good. I've read some of his picks and found many of them tedious. --JS]


Email us here.