I must admit, gentle reader, I'm one of those people. When shopping at a particular online store, named after a great river and rain forest, if I happen to hit the "check out" button and receive a message informing me that I must spend just a little more of my hard earned cash to qualify for free shipping, I spend the money. I spend it each and every time. Super Saver Shipping has got to be one of the most ingenious concepts that a retailer has thought of since some baker way back when asked himself, "What if, instead of selling these huge awkward loaves, we sliced the bread?". It does not matter if I have to spend ten more dollars or ten more cents, I will spend (or if I'm real honest with you, over spend) that extra amount to qualify for the free shipping. It's not just that I need an excuse to spend money on myself, I think it actually makes some sense. I tend to look at the situation this way. I could buy one item and pay the money to have it shipped, or I could buy two items and get them shipped for free. Since I would have had to pay shipping on the one item, I mentally deduct the amount that shipping would have cost from the second item. I would have had to pay the shipping price to get the one item, so I might as well put that money toward getting a second item, and in my mind, it's like getting the second item on sale. Like I said, gentle reader, I'm one of those people.
But, now I sense you wondering, "How could using free shipping as an excuse to buy more merchandise possibly help one on their journey to become a real live, honest to goodness, filmmaker"? Well I'll tell you. On one particular occasion I found myself going to checkout with my virtual cart and I needed a little something extra to qualify for the free shipping, so I decided to invest in another screenwriting book. This time I decided I would see what I could learn from the legendary Syd Field.
We have spoken many times before about my love for screenwriting books. I love to buy them. I'm always running out to the mailbox seconds after the postal truck has driven away to see if they have arrived. It's because of the potential they offer. The idea that somewhere in the pages of the book is the secret that will allow me to write the blockbuster movie that I know is inside of me. "How to Write a Movie in 21 Days" was the first time that I purchased a book with more than just the unrealistic hope that it contained some sort of magic within its pages. I bought it as part of a plan. That plan was to sit down at the computer and actually do whatever the book instructed. However, that plan did not work out the way I had hoped. After 21 days I did not have a feature length screenplay. I had fifteen pages and a crushing case of writer's block which had me doubting my ideas, talent, and ability to write feature. Now to be fair, I do not blame Viki King or her book for my situation. I read a lot of reviews for "21 Days" before purchasing it, and many people had a lot of great things to say about it. It just didn't work for me. I needed a little more structure than "21 Days" had to offer. Many people don't like structure. They find it confining and feel it can strangle their creativity with rules and boundaries. I, on the other hand, felt that I needed a few more guideposts to help me define my ideas. I thought that more structure would help me to mold my ideas into a good story. I was at a point in my screenplay where I didn't know what my character should be doing. I knew who they were, I knew what they wanted, I just didn't know what they were going to do, or where they were going to go. They were trapped, and I was blocked. Enter "The Screenwriter's Workbook" by Syd Fields. I think the description on the cover says it all. "Exercises and step-by-step instructions for creating a successful screenplay". I have only one thing to say about that... add to cart. And yes, it shipped for free.