Monday, September 20, 2010

Peace Day

Peace Day

Peace. Let's all live it, experiene it, know it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Audition by Michael Shurtleff - Importance

The following is the eighth in a series of twelve articles based upon the twelve guideposts listed in Audition: Everything an Actor Needs to Know to Get the Part by Michael Shurtleff. The author was the casting director for many of David Merrick's Broadway productions. He also worked with Bob Fosse and Andrew Lloyd Webber. His book is known as the actor’s bible. If you take a college acting class, it will likely be required reading. While Shurtleff’s book is aimed at actors, his principles are beneficial to both writers and directors as well. This series is geared toward writers.

Novels, stage plays and screenplays emphasize the most important moments in people's lives, not the humdrumness. The truth is not enough for a commercial story. It must must be invested with sufficient emotion to make it important. Actors in their acting must seek the opposite of what they've been trained in life to seek. Peacefulness and the avoidance of trouble won't help in acting. Actors must seek the opposite in their acting. Writers must seek the opposite in writing their stories. Importance does not necessarily mean of significance to others. It means what is emotionally important to the protagonist in this moment. Make trivial things important in the moment, even if a day later the character has forgotten them. Make the importance in each scene as important as you can. Find the maximum importance. Add importance. If you don't, no one will be listening to you.

Choose the positive, not the negative, in creating your character. People are motivated by dreams, not negative realities. Reality creates problems; dreams are how we deal with them. Dreams are why we stay alive. If you leave out the dreams, you omit the best part of the character as a human being.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

UGH!!! Revisions

You've read your manuscript again, and again. And again. You've got a deadline looming. Your completed, final manuscript is due to your agent or editor and you're still revising. You're tired. You're frustrated. You're just about ready to start taking hostages. What do you do? Take a small break. Walk your dog. Put your cat's favorite toy on the end of a fishing pole and watch the fun. (I've seen this done and it's more entertaining than cable tv.) Go to the gym. Treat yourself to lunch.

Then what?


Blend minor characters that can't stand on their own together or get rid of them. Make sure the logic of your story holds up. This one can be particularly difficult when writing science fiction or paranormal stories, but the fact remains: no matter how crazy the story, fiction has to make sense or it's not going to sell. Once you've done this, see if your manuscript passes the major test. Does it keep your reader turning the pages? You were drawn enough to the story to write it. Now put on your reader glasses and read it. Is the pace moving quickly enough where you need it to? If not, tighten it up with shorter sentences. Balance the action with the dialogue. Is the pace slowed down where the reader needs a break in the speed of the story? If not, work in some narrative. Just make sure that anything new you add to the story continues to move the story forward. Tell the reader what he or she needs to know to keep your story moving forward and that's it. Any extra prose you like you can copy and paste and save for use in a subsequent story.

Have you been working on revising your story so much now that you can barely stand to look at it anymore? You almost hate your story? Congratulations! You're at that perfect phase to finish it. Now, just go through that manuscript a few more times, fine tune it for logic, story elements, characterization; make sure it's smooth sailing forward throughout the story; double check grammar and punctuation. Have another trustworthy pair of eyes look at it. I mean a good critique partner who knows commercial fiction. Spouses, best friends and family members need not apply. They can read your book when it's bound and your name is on the spine. Like the old advertisement says, "Just do it." Finish it up and send it off to your agent or editor.

Then, get cracking on your next book. Enjoy!