“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Overnight Success?

The Beatles, remember them? 

They were that little band that apparently jumped from Liverpool to stardom overnight.

One of the band’s earliest gigs was performing near military bases in Hamburg Germany. They played eight hours a day, seven days a week, for eighteen months. So the band that seemed to drop out of nowhere had already played together for an astonishing 1,200 gigs by the time their first single hit the charts.

This may seem daunting, for it appears that some youngsters come out of the starting gate and win the race. But we don't know those people--we don't like them either.

Long ago I read that it takes 20 years to make a writer.

I asked if that came with a guarantee, but no one answered.

I dove in any way.  I decided that I wanted to be a writer, and I was willing to put in the time.

It’s been a fantastic 20 years, but I am not a rich by being a writer yet, my writing doesn’t sparkle as some do, (Dear Ray Bradbury, I’m still reading and writing), no major publishing house has bought my work.

Am I a failure?

Naugh.  I have expressed myself. I have studied. I have learned something about writing, (I have found that it is an endless process), and I have found that writing helps clarify my life. I write because I want to know what I am thinking. And I write because my intuition, that part that does not think) tells me to.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliners said it takes 10,000 hours to be “a world-class expert.”and he's the one who used the Beatles as an example.

"World class expert." Perhaps we don't have to be one to be successful, maybe he's wrong, or on the possibility that he's right perhaps we are willing to put in the hours.there's the catch.  And consider, maybe he's wrong.

Stephen King said, “I’ve written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got the kids through college, but those things were on the side–I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

(There go the "world-class experts.")

“Writers live twice.”
—Natalie Goldberg

Yep, that’s what I was saying, only they said it better.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Spielberg on Story

“Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.”--Steven Spielberg, from his 1986 Oscar acceptance speech

Shanee Edwards in Screenwriters Magazine lists Steven Spielberg's seven great story tricks he used in BFG, (the movie Big Friendly Giant) from the book by Roald Dahl. I thought I had read all the children's books by Roald Dahl--don't know how I missed that one.

.No. 1 — Go to the dark side
Spielberg says we root for the character the more the character endures--especially if he is a child.
 In a typical Hollywood narrative arc, characters must be tested and the happy ending must be earned. Darkness and redemption must be balanced to give the story heft.

No. 2 — Dream all day
Daydream about your characters.  In the film, the Big Friendly Giant collects dreams and stores them in jars, showing how important dreams are

No. 3 — Take your time getting to the good stuff
Storytelling isn’t a race.
Spielberg has also been quoted as saying, “All good ideas start out as bad ideas, that’s why it takes so long.” Don’t judge yourself, just keep working on your idea until it feels authentic to you. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

No. 4 — Don’t be boring
 Of course, we don't want that, yet don't most of us wonder if we are boring our readers?
No. 5 — You don’t need to attend a fancy film school
Legend has it Spielberg applied to USC’s film school, but couldn’t get in due to his poor grades. He attended Cal State Long Beach but dropped out when he was offered a film contract. Making his first film as an 11-year-old to earn his Boy Scout photography badge, it was Spielberg’s passion and dedication that brought him success as a director, 

No. 6 — Structure is king
“People have forgotten how to tell a story," says Spielberg. "Stories don’t have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.”
 Act one should ask a question that gets answered in act three. 

No. 7 — Read everything you can
Watch movies, read screenplays, and read books!
Reading opens your mind, stokes your creativity and helps to understand various points of view. ”Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.”