What’s been turning into once a month posts has lapsed beyond that! Truth be told, we’ve been in crunch mode on trying to finish two scripts and it wouldn’t really be worth it to update and say, “Yep, still writing.” And since I’d rather post other people’s more useful writing advice than try and blurt something out on my own, there’s really nothing to say right now. I will, however, link some worthwhile stuff that I’ve been stockpiling for the last month or so.
Pixar story artist Emma Coats has been giving out some ’story basics’ gems which I’ll re-post here. I recommend following her on twitter as she pumps out tons of useful stuff each week, which I then collect in my big word doc of tips.
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
As an addition to my last post about kickstarter, this site gives way more info than you’d probably need on starting your own campaign and attracting investors.
Any interest in sound design? SoundWorks was made for you.
The Hammer Museum has posted a conversation between J.J. Abrams and Michael Giacchino. As someone with a huge interest in film composers, you rarely get to hear about directors and composers talk about their working relationship in any real depth so this is a treat.
The latest guest on Kevin Pollak’s chat show is one Damon Lindelof. I’m not a fan of how LOST ended but I am a big fan of Lindelof. He gives a frank, and lengthy, talk about working in the business, his history (which I’ve tried to find with little success), and gives the best definition of what a movie prequel should be. Also, it’s available in both video and audio podcast format, which I appreciate immensely.
Lastly, for the writers, there’s a nice wiki of common surnames sorted by country.