Friday, October 21, 2011

Write Around the Corner

I don’t believe in the woolly nebulous idea of Writer’s Block. Whenever I get stuck, it’s usually because the problem is what I’m writing or how I’m writing it, not a blanket inability to get the words out. When that happens, I stop and write something completely different and that usually gets me back on the yellow brick road. (My real problem tends to be Writer’s Cockblock - when external factors or people prevent me from getting shit done).

I’m also wary of Advice for Writers. There are things that work, and things that don’t work, and those things aren’t necessarily the same for everyone. Having said that, there are times when I stumble upon a different perspective or a juicy comment that casts a new light on something that I’m beating my head against. No point keeping it all to myself, though, so here are a few things I’ve tripped over on my journeys around the Internet recently.
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
Orson Welles
“You’re going to change your mind a thousand times. That’s a good thing. Only imbeciles never change their minds.”
Anna Rascouët-Paz speaking at San Francisco, Creative Mornings
William Goldman’s “Ten Commandments on Writing”
(from the perennial essential Adventures in the Screen Trade)

1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.

2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.

3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.

4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.

5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.

6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.

7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.

8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.

9. Thou shalt not write on the nose – put a subtext under every text.

10. Thou shalt rewrite.

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