Greetings, traveler! Chances are, you’re reading this because you’ve decided to embark on the highly dangerous, highly caffeinated thirty-day whirlwind known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal? To write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. You may not even have an idea for a novel in this point in time. But never fear! This guide exists to divulge the secrets behind a successful month of noveling. Let the adventure begin!
Hey Amy, was this blog post partially created out of you wanting to tell people that you saw LOOPER before it was even out in theaters?
Why yes, yes it is.
That, and writer/director Rian Johnson’s films make all of my top ten movie lists. If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d bring his high school noir film Brick with me. If I had three hours left to live, you can bet I’d be watching his feel-good con man love story adventure, The Brother’s Bloom. What’s that you say? There’s been a nuclear war and I’m only allowed to save five movies from the impending destruction? Looper, consider yourself saved.
P.S. As much as I want to burst out in song and share my bundle of feelings about LOOPER to the world, there will be no spoilers in this post. Cross my heart, guys.
Lesson #1: Play With Genre Expectations
high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.
Brick is one of those rare films where the literary design is as interesting as the visual design. We’ve got all the ingredients of a hardboiled detective story wrapped in the neo-noir genre: crime rings, drug wars, violence and revenge and love triangles… but the characters in this story are all in high school, still living with their parents and attending classes. It’s a twist on the traditional genre that surfaces every once in awhile to wink at you before submerging again and allowing the darker tones of the story take over. [Read more…]
I’ve learned some very important lessons from my overseas travel, but one message actually applies to screenwriting: always prepare yourself for the journey ahead.
Writing a script, is, in essence, a journey. Don’t be that guy who gets stopped at the border because you forgot your passport and who drinks the water the moment his boot hits Mexicano soil.
Here are six ways to prepare for writing that killer screenplay and put experienced travelers to shame!
1. Concept comes first. You need an idea that’s not only marketable, but interesting, compelling, and high concept if you can manage it. You need something that’s going to be a movie. Examples:
- Not a movie: ‘two people fall in love but life gets in the way’
- A movie: ‘two people fall in love but they’re on The Titanic‘
- Not a movie: ‘a lawyer learns that lying is immoral’
- A movie: ‘an attorney preparing for a big case is cursed and cannot lie for twenty-four hours’
Be specific and use irony when you can! [Read more…]
Me: “That’s one way to keep people from swimming in the bay.”
Sailboat Captain: “No, we actually have a crocodile infestation problem here. Mi amigo Hernandez? He slipped and fell off the dock, and lost his left leg to one of them. Right over there.”
He points a few feet away from the sailboat I’ll be boarding in a minute, which is across from a narrow, slippery stretch of wood I’d hesitate to call a dock.
There’s nothing like international travel to remind you how much you value your limbs.
Here are the five things writers should know about creativity:
1. Creativity is broken up into two parts: Convergent thinking (the process of combining and sorting out the best ideas) and divergent thinking (the process of creating ideas). Of the two, divergent thinking can be substantially improved, whereas convergent thinking is more crystallized. As screenwriters, we can improve divergent thinking skills through cognitive fluency exercises.
2. “Eureka” moments can be achieved by taking your mind off the project you’re working on. According to Arne Dietrich’s paper, The Cognitive Neuroscience of Creativity (2004), there are two types of creativity, which can be interpreted as a mixture of different subtraits. Spontaneous and cognitive creativity requires taking a step back from the problem and taking time off, and originates from the basal ganglia where dopamine is stored. This type of creativity operates outside of the conscience awareness, and by doing unrelated tasks and getting away from the problem that requires a creative solution, the prefrontal cortex can make new connections and come up with an original solution. Spontaneous emotional creativity generates the “Eureka!” moments that cannot be planned for, and originate from the amygdala.
3. Reading fiction books makes you more creative. The study, “Reading for Pleasure and Creativity Among College Students” surveyed 225 university students and administered the twenty item Scale of Creative Attributes and Behavior (SCAB) creativity test. “The results indicated that reading for pleasure was significantly, positively correlated to creativity.”
4. Divergent thinking is the most important aspect of creativity. “In the study of individual differences in creative ability and potential— divergent thinking is the most promising candidate for the foundation of creative ability” (Plucker & Renzulli, 1999; Runco, 2007).
5. Creative people operate differently. Not only are they at risk for schizophrenia-like disorders, but a study from California State University indicates that people who are creative also are more likely to suffer from insomnia (Healey & Runco, 2006.)