Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Now that 2011 has really started and we have all survived our second snowstorm, it seems very important to now focus on correcting the excesses brought on by New Years Eve partying and beginning to create a disciplined approach to finishing that screenplay!
My point of difference is that I believe it is desire rather than yelling at our selves to get our butts in the chair to get our screenplays written. So I invite you right now, as you are reading this blog, to list 5 reasons why it would be great for you to get that screenplay done. Here are a few examples:
1) To keep a promise made to yourself
2) The creative satisfaction of finishing something
3) The potential for a movie to be made
Many writers prefer to have written rather than focus on the arduous process of actually writing. The way to overcome this is before you actually start to work, pretend for a moment that the work is already done and imagine the benefit you will gain from having done it.
Monday, January 10, 2011
For the last few months, I have been watching a Korean television series, Jumong, with my dear friend, Nick. We are on episode 68 of 81 and the hero, Jumong, has experienced terrible trials and tribulations, very much like the biblical figure, Job. Unlike Job, Jumong’s reaction is not to harangue God or to play the victim, but rather to try to find a positive meaning. By looking for the lesson he is being taught, he turns the experience around and finds a solution to the impossible situation he’s in. I wondered aloud if Job had taken a similar outlook, could his suffering have stopped sooner?
One of the purposes of drama beyond entertainment is to provide a catharsis, a vicarious release of emotions by watching imaginary characters in a play go through difficult life experiences, and Nick pointed out that the literal meaning of the word, catharsis, was “ learning through suffering.”
I am always intrigued when life imitates art, and found myself trying to think like Jumong earlier today. After visiting my mother, I found myself posting on Facebook to my many friends:
“My mother is terribly ill, and as a result, I have been spending more time with her than I have since childhood. I have resolved my issues with her – or so I thought, but today when I came by, Mom gave me a piercing, not very friendly look, and for a moment my soul just withered -- I have always gotten both her love and her hatred in alternating cycles. It was literally the story of my life replaying itself in a moment -- the endless anxiety: will I be on the A-list or the poop list today? What am I supposed to learn?”
One of my wonderful friends answered: “I think you are supposed to learn that her moods and her ways are about her, not you. You are always loved and loveable regardless of the attitudes of those around you.”
I was so grateful – this new friend really set me straight, and I felt a great weight lift off me. Thank you, dear Ms. A -- lesson learned!
Friday, January 7, 2011
Life and movies are not the same, but we can take from life and improve our stories by seeing what really happens and using the structure of reality to improve our plots. By putting happy and sad events next to each other, we create irony and raise the stakes.
Here was my day in real life:
The good news is that my essay on The Four Magic Questions of Screenwriting was published by Tarcher/Penguin as part of the Now Write book series. More good news, it was my sister's birthday.
The bad news was that my mother was given some painkillers and slept all day and evening without waking and my Aunt Barbara died suddenly.
Some juxtaposition, huh?
I called my uncle, who was my late father's brother and said, " It's too much to lose your wife and your brother in the same few weeks. What can I do?" he said,"Nothing, unless you can bring her back." I felt so sad for him. This same uncle survived The World Trade Center Bombing because he was late for the first and only time he was late. As a result, he was about to step into the elevator as the first bomb hit, and got out just in time. More bad news/good news.
In your current screenplay or book, can you move events around so that good events are more closely juxtaposed with bad? It will improve your story. For example, in The Godfather, Michael saves the family business, but loses the love of his life.