Month: January 2017

Love Story Cheat Sheet/Obligatory Scenes

By Shawn Coyne | 6 Comments

This is the fifth in my series about love story. If you’d like to catch up, here is the first one, here is the second one, here is the third one and here is the fourth one. What scenes must be in every Love Story? While the following list may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many amateur writers fail to deliver these essential must-haves. Or if they do deliver them, they toss them off with an uninspired let’s get this over with sensibility, thus disappointing readers looking for something singular and magical.

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Writer = Entrepreneur

By Steven Pressfield | 32 Comments

  Are you a writer? A filmmaker? A dancer? Then you’re an entrepreneur. You have more in common with the young Steve Jobs and the early Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg than you do with your dad who worked all his life for AT+T or your aunt who’s five months away from collecting her pension from the Post Office. [Today’s post, by the way, is the kick-off for a new extended series that I’m calling, until someone comes up with a catchier title, “The Professional Mindset.” Over the succeeding weeks we’re going to examine the inner world of the writer…

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Should Writers Be Paid For Everything?

By Callie Oettinger | 10 Comments

I received a question following my last post (“Common Sense“), which is tied to writers being paid for their work, and I’m still thinking about the question, and my answer, almost two weeks later. Here’s the question: You argue that writers shouldn’t work for free, but isn’t that exactly what they are doing when they spend time on social media? What about their blogs? I see both as examples of writing as marketing, and no one is paying them. Doesn’t that go against your point? Here’s my answer: On your question, I approach it as I do my yard. If…

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50 Ways to say “I Love You”

By Steven Pressfield | 6 Comments

A case could be made that many, many books and movies are about one thing and one thing only: getting Person X to say to Person Y, “I love you.” The trick is our characters can never use those blatant, overt words. That wouldn’t be cool. It wouldn’t ring true to life. And it wouldn’t possess the power and the impact we want. In fiction, “I love you” has to come in subtext, not text. Here’s one of the ways William Goldman did it in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s the final scene. The outlaws are shot up…

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Love Story Cheat Sheet /Controlling Idea (Theme)

By Shawn Coyne | 14 Comments

This is the fourth in my series about love story. If you’d like to catch up, here is the first one, here is the second one, and here is the third one. If there is one question I get more than any other it’s this: “Could you tell me what the controlling ideas/themes, obligatory scenes and conventions are for Genre X?” Well, I could. And I did go through the OSs and Cs for Thriller and Crime in The Story Grid book as well as those in the Redemption story (part of the Morality Internal Content Genre) too over at…

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Fictionalizing Your Real-Life Story

By Steven Pressfield | 7 Comments

  We said a few posts ago that sometimes we, as writers, have to tart real life up. Real life is too ordinary. It’s too interior. It’s too boring. We have to heighten the drama, ramp up the stakes. Otherwise readers won’t care. But how, exactly, do we perform this wizardry? Do we just dream up wild stuff—sex, violence, zombies—and hurl it into the stew willy-nilly? How do we know what’s appropriate? How can we tell when we’ve gone too far? The answer brings me back to my favorite subject: theme. The principle is:   We may fictionalize but only…

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Common Sense

By Callie Oettinger | 12 Comments

I started off 2017 digging into two publishing rabbit holes. The first one is related to a guy named Paine. He wrote a pamphlet that went viral a few hundred years ago and is still being read today. Not long after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Thomas Paine hit U.S. soil. He worked, got political at pubs, and wrote. Paine toiled away on a series of letters to be run in local newspapers. After finding himself way over word count for letters, he decided to publish a pamphlet instead, titled “Common Sense.” Here’s what your high school teacher didn’t…

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Supporting Characters in Your Real Life

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

Remember when Michael Jordan got into trouble for referring to his teammates on the Chicago Bulls as “my supporting cast?” He was, of course, only telling the truth. (Though Scotty Pippen, we must admit, has a right to be a little miffed.) But back to you and me and our novels based on our real lives. What about our spouses and kids and bosses and friends and the other crazy characters we’re going to write about? They may not like to think of themselves this way, but .. They are supporting characters in our story. Putting their egos aside, the…

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