Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sunday's Workshop and other 'stuff'

Firstly a big THANK YOU to those who attended. The discussion over plotting and Desire v. Need was very refreshing and gave me a bit of serious food for thought. There'll be a bit of reworking of The Dark Goddess because of it. Anyway, this blog is a quick reading list of books that have worked for me. Some of them are clear guidebooks but others are more personal opinions on writing.
I know we spent the session talking about films but I think structurally, we're looking at very similar designs when it comes to telling a story. The BIG difference between the visual media and written is the exploration of the internal world of the characters. In a film you really have no idea what the character is thinking or really feeling. With books you can get into their brain and heart with ease. Likewise be wary of thinking writing a book is just transcribing the film in your head, it isn't. Film is visual which is why violence and action are so dominating. It's eye candy. No point writing big CGI scenes in books, they'd be wasted. Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the medium you're operating in.

Reading List:

On Writing by Stephen King. King is very anti-plotting and who's to argue with the master? All the more reason to take what influences that WORK FOR YOU and don't believe a formula will save your writing. Only passion will save your writing.

The Writer's Journey by Volger. This is almost the complete opposite, it's very proscriptive. I think it's worth reading BUT then dwell on it and see how the ideas within are merely labels, or signposts, on the story road. Do we need to know if your villain is the hero's SHADOW MENTOR? No, not really. But if you like the idea of it, explore it, and Volger's work is very easy access.

Story by Robert McKee. I found this book fascinating, but really heavy work. McKee is a very famous script mentor and goes into meticulous detail, which from an almost acedemic viewpoint is worth looking at.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass. I must admit it's very formulaic, but really good. Very easy to digest and a great way to start.

How Not to write a Novel by Mittelmark and Newman. Basically a hysterical book outlining all the main cliches writers slip into. I garantee your work is in there somewhere. Mine certainly is. It's not about plotting or structure or Inciting Incidents or anything like that. Just the major pitfalls.

How to write a Million. I was so embarrassed by this book I put a fake cover on it. It's actually three books in one package: PLOT by Dibell, Characters and Viewpoints by Card and Dialogue by Truco. If you're starting out this and the book above are the ones to get.

The Devil's Guide to Hollywood by Eszterhas. This guy wrote Basic Instinct and a whole slew of scripts in the 90's. His big claim to fame/infamy is he also wrote Showgirls. He HATES McKee and Eszterhas has a point. He's sold far more scripts, for far far more money (I think he might still hold the No.1 spot for the highest ever earnt for a screenplay) so believes McKee is talking out of his a**e. It's real warts and all view of Hollywood but also very refreashing if you're drowning in 'how to write' books. Works well with King's book with their semi-autobiographical style.

Obviously there are hundreds more but the ones above worked for me. I have various other notes that I'll send out to the workshop people at some point. Sorry but my writing life is a bit shambolic!

OTHER STUFF: Looks like I'm off to Russia in a few weeks. Very excited about this one. All in the name of research, mind you. This isn't a holiday, this is work. Yes, I know, I don't really believe it either.

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