Month: March 2015

The Return

By Callie Oettinger | 11 Comments

Ernest Hemingway opened his introduction to the anthology Men At War (which he also edited) with: This book will not tell you how to die. Some cheer-leaders of war can always get out a pamphlet telling the best way to go through that small but necessary business at the end. PM may have published it already in a special Sunday issue with pictures. They might even have it bound up as a companion piece to the issue I read in November 1941 entitled “How We Can Lick Japan in Sixty Days.” No. This book will not tell you how to…

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Second Draft Thoughts

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

I’m writing this on Friday, March 23, having just read Shawn’s post from today, “The Second Draft (Is Not A Draft),” which I love and which I agree with 100%. I never see what Shawn or Callie write until it appears on the blog. I don’t show ’em my stuff early either. Anyway I gotta chip in my two cents on the subject of second drafts. I’m gonna say exactly what Shawn said, but using a different metaphor. Here goes: To me, first drafts are like blitzkriegs. They’re like the Israeli army charging across the Sinai Peninsula in four days…

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The Second Draft (Is Not a Draft)

By Shawn Coyne | 16 Comments

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff] Congratulations, you now have a first draft, the raw materials for your Story. The first draft is what Steve Pressfield calls “covering the canvass.”  It has nothing to do with anyone else but you.  Refrain from talking about your first draft or any particular section or sentence you recall fondly from it to any outsider…even your spouse. You’ll probably end up cutting or changing the best parts or lines anyway and there is definitely something to not voicing creative work until you’ve thrashed it out until you’re, if not satisfied, exhausted. When…

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The #1 Amateur Mistake

By Steven Pressfield | 24 Comments

My friend Kate used to work for Bob Dylan. Kate told me that every morning the guard out front would find demo tapes from wannabe folk singers and aspiring rockers affixed to Bob’s gate. I can understand this. I can visualize the solo dude with a Gibson twelve-string on his back, or the young hard-working band in their VW microbus. Maybe they drove all the way from the opposite coast. What a rush! To do the detective work, find out where Bob Dylan lives, then leave your stuff for him to listen to. Maybe he’ll like it! Maybe he’ll give…

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The First Draft

By Shawn Coyne | 19 Comments

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff] When you are writing a first draft of anything…a novel, a play, a manual, a grocery store list, take the advice of Satchel Paige. “Don’t look back.” Don’t read over what you’ve written before when you begin your day’s work.  Don’t fix any sentences.  Don’t stop and go research to fill in a blank that you do not have the immediate answer for.  Make it up and fix it later. Don’t think about anything other than putting what is inside your head onto the page/computer screen. Of course the first draft is…

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“You Broke My Heart, Fredo”

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

One of my favorite books on writing is Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman. Zuckerman is an agent, a writer, a teacher of writing. He has represented Ken Follett, Stephen Hawking, many others. Zuckerman advocates a principle that I’ve used myself many times because it always works. When one character kills another, and they are strangers to each other, we see such an act as frightening, terrible, maybe even shocking. But when a child murders a parent or vice versa, or a brother slays a brother, such a deed strikes us as much more horrific. This comes from a…

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David Carr, Neil Young and the 7 Year Old

By Callie Oettinger | 14 Comments

This afternoon I drove through the Santa Cruz Mountains with David Carr and Neil Young, on the way to Neil’s Broken Arrow ranch. I’ve been mining David’s columns and this one is a favorite. I like how he molded words to animate stories and convey thoughts — and have felt them tugging at me these past two weeks. I was cruising through his interview with Neil until he crashed in a quote from Neil’s book Waging Heavy Peace: “Writing is very convenient, has a low expense and is a great way to pass the time,” he says in “Waging Heavy…

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Killer Scenes and Self-Doubt

By Steven Pressfield | 29 Comments

We’ve been talking for the past few weeks about Killer Scenes—and how a writer can start with a single scene, or even a couple of lines of text, and build out from that the entire global work. Specifically I’ve been talking about my own book, The Virtues of War, and how it evolved from two sentences that “came to me” and that I knew instinctively were the first sentences of a book. I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. Let’s get metaphysical today. Let’s go beyond the tactical applications (how to extrapolate an entire book…

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