Steven Pressfield Blog

Does Your Novel/Movie have an Understory?

If it’s true that the Understory (the unspoken story-beneath-the-story) is more important than the Surface Story—and that it’s what REALLY pulls the reader/viewer through the drama—then what exactly is this thing? Where do we find it? And how do we as writers know if we even have one?

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The Muse Strikes Again

I’ve been collecting Muse stories. Here’s an amazing one from Krista Tippett’s podcast, “On Being” (which I highly recommend subscribing to). It’s an exchange between the host, Ms. Tippett, and her guest, Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, Big Magic, and many more—and a great and deep believer in forces that “are not dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.”

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Story and Understory

The Understory, by its very nature, is embedded in the Story. That’s what Keith Richards was searching for when he played those same two chords over and over. He knew it was in there somewhere. He was just waiting for it to show itself.

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Sterling Lord, 1920-2022

Sterling Lord (that’s his real name) was the literary agent who sold my first work of fiction, The Legend of Bagger Vance, in 1994, and my most recent, A Man at Arms, in 2021. He also sold Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in 1954, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962, and so many others it’s impossible to count. 

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Gary Player in a Sand Trap

Do you know who Gary Player is? He was one of the “Big Three,” along with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, in professional golf in the sixties and seventies. He won nine majors, including the Masters three times. 

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The Cosmic Radio Station

I believe that the Fifth Symphony existed before Beethoven composed it. Maybe not note for note, but in some form that we would recognize if we could hear it.

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Rick Rubin’s Source

I was fortunate enough, a few months ago, to get a sneak look at an upcoming book called The Creative Act by Rick Rubin. Do you know who Rick is? He’s been called the Godfather of Hip-Hop. His recording studio, Shangri-La in Southern California, is and has been a mecca for everybody from the Beastie Boys to LL Cool J, to Run DMC, Public Enemy and many more.

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The Long Game

[Quick update: next week, the Wednesday post will arrive in your inbox in a slightly different manner. I will say no more! Hope you like it. Lemme know in the Comments.]

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A Dime a Dozen

Geniuses are a dime a dozen. The streets of Manhattan are crawling with MFAs from Columbia and NYU, as are the freeways of LA with grads of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

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“Talent is B.S.”

The following passage comes from The Knowledge. The speaker is a version of myself, when I was driving a cab in New York City and struggling to learn the writing craft.

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"PUT YOUR ASS
WHERE YOUR HEART
WANTS TO BE"

On sale now in paperback, eBook , and audiobook.

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DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

noboybookcover

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers— advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

The-War-of-Art

THE WAR OF ART

Read this one first.
It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage—that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams.
Start here.
Everything else proceeds from this.

Turning-Pro

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

The-Authentic-Swing

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

do the work book banner 1

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.