Month: January 2015

Art and Polarity

By Shawn Coyne | 17 Comments

[I’ve been with Steve and Jeff all week working on a whole bunch of stuff for our upcoming release of THE STORY GRID.  So here’s a post I wrote back in 2013 that speaks to a crucial role of the Artist—Judge.  To read more of Shawn’s stuff subscribe to] The other day I overhead this conversation: Man #1: “I ran into Frank Smith (not his real name) at the beach yesterday…” Man #2: “Isn’t that the guy who cheated on his wife, got a DWI, and said all of those nasty things about Jill’s daughter in law?” Man #1:…

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Killer Scenes

By Steven Pressfield | 16 Comments

Paul Schrader is the much-honored director and screenwriter (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, many others) and, for me, a major role model for many years. Here’s what he said in an interview once on the subject of pitching a film idea: Have a strong early scene, preferably the opening, a clear but simple spine to the story, one or two killer scenes, and a clear sense of the evolution of the main character or central relationship. And an ending. Any more gets in the way. I’ve stolen this system lock, stock, and barrel. It’s exactly how I pitch. One of the…

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Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star

By Callie Oettinger | 14 Comments

In the March 1914 edition of Vanity Fair, James L. Ford discussed movies as a menace to stage. A hundred years later, in the March 2014 edition of Vanity Fair, James Wolcott called “Everyone Back to the Cineplex” (after two years before writing, in the May 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, that “cinema has lost its sanctuary allure and aesthetic edge over television.”) In March of this year, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s new Netflix series, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” will be released, and the conversation that will follow this already-buzzing series promises to be a continuation of the old-as-dirt…

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Make It Beautiful

By Steven Pressfield | 22 Comments

My first exposure to contemporary writing and art came in eighth and ninth grade. I can’t remember what books we were assigned in English class (I don’t think we read Catcher in the Rye till tenth grade) but whatever they were, they were dark. The point of view was bleak and despairing. That’s what I and my classmates came to think of as “literary.” Movies were grim too. Dance was weird. Sculpture was industrial and monolithic. Fine art’s job, it seemed, was to mock fine art, to declare that the creation of art was impossible in an era of nuclear…

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The David Lean Rule

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

Today’s post is a follow-up (and closely related) to last week’s “The Clothesline Method.” David Lean was the two-time Oscar-winning director of Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Doctor Zhivago, among many others. He was a Brit. He died in 1991. I don’t know about you, but if David Lean has something to say on the subject of story or narrative, I will travel many miles to listen. What follows comes from my own yellowing newspaper files. I have no idea when or from where I clipped this. It’s part of a longer article, an interview with…

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Broken Isn’t The End

By Callie Oettinger | 11 Comments

This past Wednesday, artist Lucille Clerc tweeted the image below. It shows three images of a pencil, in three stages of existence: full, broken in half, and resharpened into two pencils of varying lengths, but both with equally powerful points. A fourth image might have both ends of a previously-broken pencil sharpened — or if the pencil reaches a point where it is too small to sharpen, the image might be of pigments on a wall, etchings on glass, or via other ways artists have expressed their work for eons. Broken isn’t the end. It’s the preamble to a new…

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The Clothesline Method

By Steven Pressfield | 26 Comments

I’m just starting a new novel, trying to figure out the shape of the damn thing. Here’s a trick I use that might help you too. I call it the Clothesline Method. I think of the story as an old-fashioned clothesline, like people used to string up in their back yards to hang the laundry on. The left-hand end is the beginning of the story. The right-hand terminus is the end. The line starts out empty. Then you hang the shirts and towels and underwear (the scenes and sequences) on it. I aim for between eight and twelve. Sometimes I’ll…

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Willful Ignorance

By Shawn Coyne | 25 Comments

There’s a wonderful little village that my wife, kids and I visit often. It has an old wooden windmill at the end of Main Street, right by the water, just above a little beach area.  There’s a perfectly dilapidated but eminently functional Municipal Building in the heart of town that enforces a strict zoning code that has kept McDonald’s and every other modern chain out of the historic district. You can almost feel the ghost of Herman Melville walking its streets, debating whether or not to cast the Pequod off from the town’s Bay Street dock or keep closer to…

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