Writing Wednesdays

The Villain Doesn’t Change

By Steven Pressfield | 17 Comments

  The craziest working arrangement I ever had in the screenwriting biz was when I worked for a producer I’ll call Joan Stark. Joan insisted that I write in her office. I had to come in every day. Joan gave me a little cubbyhole beside the photocopy machine. I’d work on pages all morning and half the afternoon. Then we’d meet and Joan would go over the day’s work and give me corrections. Every day she had problems with the same character—the villain. She kept making me rewrite his scenes. One day I asked why. What mistake was I making?…

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The “B” Story Rides to the Rescue of the “A” Story

By Steven Pressfield | 7 Comments

We touched briefly in last week’s post upon the idea that the “B” story “rides to the rescue” of the “A” story, usually at the start of Act Three. Let’s examine this principle in more detail.

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“A” Story and “B” Story

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

  In the movie biz there’s a terminology: “A” Story and “B” Story. (There’s also a “C,” “D,” and “E” story.) This is an interesting concept that has carry-overs for us in the fiction world. Nonfiction too. The “A” story is the main story, the story in the foreground. In Moby Dick the “A” story is Ahab’s pursuit of the whale. In The Bourne Identity, it’s Jason Bourne’s search for who he really is. In To Kill a Mockingbird it’s Atticus Finch’s endeavor to save Tom Robinson. The “B” story is the secondary story, the story in the background. In many…

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Our Characters and Ourselves

By Steven Pressfield | 23 Comments

I’ve been thinking about an obscure point of storytelling, and I wonder if this isn’t something that a lot of us have been aware of but maybe haven’t thought about too deeply. (I’m gonna get a little writer-wonky in this post, so please bear with me.) We know as fiction writers that our story (Act One) starts in “the Ordinary World.” Then something happens (the Inciting Incident) that propels our hero out of her or his everyday life and into “the Extraordinary World.” Dorothy is whisked away from Kansas, Luke bolts from the planet Tatooine, Wonder Woman leaves the island…

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Welcome, JABs Subscribers!

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

Thanks and welcome to everybody who leapt off the cliff with us and signed up to receive a year’s worth of Black Irish JABs. The response has been beyond our hopes. Thank you! To anyone still teetering on the fence, lemme take today’s post to give you the old-fashioned hard sell. (Then I’ll stop, I promise.) On second thought, let me just list the titles and premises of some of this year’s coming JABs: JAB #1 (December): How Does a Story Start? This one’s about the Inciting Incident of a novel or a movie. It talks about the hero acquiring…

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Introducing Black Irish JABs

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

For those who can’t wait, here’s the link to get the full story. (Oh, and before I forget, there’s a great Black Irish baseball cap that comes along with the JABs.) But let’s back up first to say what Black Irish JABs are, and how you can use them. How do you learn to write? I mean really. How does an aspiring artist of any kind (or even an accomplished pro) get her ideas onto paper? How does she tell her stories? How does she make it all work? The standard prescription is read read read and write write write.…

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Don’t You Hate It When …

By Steven Pressfield | 13 Comments

Don’t you hate it when sites or stores do “teasers?” I do. They tell you that “something” is coming [maybe they even give you a sneak peek], trying to snag your interest and gin up your anticipation. But then they leave you hanging and don’t tell you what that “something” actually is. I hate that. And I’m gonna do it right now in this post. (Sorry!) Next week, in this Wednesday space, I’ll be introducing a product that Shawn and Callie and I have been working on for more than three years. At various points over that time, we thought…

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Reinforcement and Self-Reinforcement

By Steven Pressfield | 27 Comments

Let me start with an overstatement: For writers and artists, the ability to self-reinforce is more important than talent. What exactly is reinforcement? It’s when your coach or your mentor or your spouse tugs you aside and tells you how well you are doing, and how proud of you they are, and how certain ultimate success is if you just keep doing what you’re doing. That’s reinforcement. What’s self-reinforcement? It’s when you do the exact same thing for yourself. Let me rephrase my original overstatement by quoting my (fictional) literary agent, 96-year-old Marty Fabrikant: “Talent is bullshit. I seen a…

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A Map of the Unknown World

By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

I’m reading a wonderful book (thanks, Bill Wickman, for turning me onto it) called Bugles and a Tiger, My Life in the Ghurkas by John Masters. This is the kind of book I absolutely devour—a straight-ahead memoir, no plot, no characters, just an absolutely true account of a fascinating life experience, in this case the tale of a young Brit who served in India in the 30s in a legendary Ghurka battalion. What exactly is a Ghurka? The Ghurkas are Nepalese peasantry. Modest of stature, often illiterate, incredibly hardy and brave, loyal, dedicated and true, they have covered themselves with…

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What Works and What Doesn’t

By Steven Pressfield | 21 Comments

I wrote in last week’s post that I would have to kill myself if I couldn’t write. That wasn’t hyperbole. Here in no particular order are the activities and aspirations that don’t work for me (and I’ve tried them all extensively, as I imagine you have too if you’ve logged onto this blog.)

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