Joe’s Post #102
Not my words. But from people who know their sh*t.
6 Things ALL Writers Need To Know
Bang2writers ask me quite frequently for my “top tips” on surviving the writing process and this industry. Before now I always felt that it depends on the person, what they’re doing, how they work and who with.
But actually, having worked on a variety of projects now with various people over the last ten years, I think there are 6 things all writers of ALL formats need to know and live by, whether they’re screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, journalists, transmedia writers, the works.
That’s right – just 6. But they mean SO much – literally everything.
1. THE WRITING
You need the 3 C’s:
- I can’t stress this enough. Whether it’s your concept or your draft, it needs to be clear. Without clarity, we slip into one C we DON’T want, which is “convoluted”. Yes, yes some plots *are* convoluted – I’m looking at you, Pixar – but the concepts rarely are. And it’s concept that sells. So in order to sell, you need clarity. It is not an add-on. It is a NECESSITY. 6 Tips for Writing A One Page Pitch.
- Remember that notion, “Why this story?” We want to know what’s at STAKE. If we don’t know what’s at stake, we don’t care. It’s as simple as that. And don’t forget, we don’t want a simple rehashing of what’s gone before, either. We want conflict that GRABS us and makes us say, “Why didn’t *I* think of that??” Remember: the best ideas are *obvious* – that doesn’t mean it’s not plain sailing getting those great ideas; it shouldn’t be. Road test your concepts and your drafts will flow … Don’t road test them and you may end up a Zeitgeist story that’s a milestone around your neck.
- Loads of people say it’s “all about character” but that’s nonsense, ‘cos it’s part of the process like the first two. But equally, it shouldn’t be “all about plot” either – cos, you guessed it, that’s just part of the process too. I read a great quote somewhere years ago that said essentially, “It’s not 50/50 Plot/Character … it’s like 100/100 Plot/Character.” I love this, because audiences want a GREAT character *in* a GREAT story. So think carefully about your characters; don’t just plump for the first person who pops into your brain. Like you think, “Why this story?” you should be thinking,“Why this character?” AS WELL.
2. BEING A WRITER
- Everything takes forever. That’s just the way of it. So don’t rush it. Enjoy the journey! And don’t throw away great opportunities just because you want to get something done “by a certain date” – review your strategies and goals accordingly. Don’t rush.
- But equally, don’t wait around. MAKE your own opportunities too. Follow up on your submissions. Make more contacts. Make more contacts. more contacts. Network furiously & build relationships. And oh yeah: write.
- And be professional at all times. Don’t blindly pitch “at” people; have conversations. Have a social media strategy and make sure you go to at least three or four real life tweet ups, meetings or events a year. Be generous. Be genuine, but don’t wear your heart on your sleeve so much people take advantage. Don’t get sucked into flame wars, allow yourself to be flattered by falsehoods and most of all: never, ever, burn your bridges. If you do, nothing may happen *right now* – but you’ll be surprised how small this pond is. It will come back to haunt you.
I really believe the 6 things I’ve outlined here can help writers stay on track, get stuff written, produced or published AND help sustain their career.
Good stuff. Simple and to the point.
From someone I look at every week.
Nathan Bransford is the author of How to Write a Novel (October 2013). He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and the social media manager at CNET and is now the Director of Community and Social Media at Freelancers Union. He lives in Brooklyn.
Something strange has been happening lately: not many of my friends are reading books.
It has happened gradually, almost imperceptibly, but the number of my friends who are reading is on the decline.
Some of this may be my age. Now that I’m approaching my mid thirties, a lot of my friends are in baby zone and are using their rare spare time to sleep.
But a lot of people I know have switched to reading more articles, they binge watch Netflix in their free time, and even smart thinking people don’t feel the need to be catching up with the latest hot novel.
I have been optimistic about books for a long time. And I don’t see reason to change my tune.
But sometimes… I wonder. With tablets and electronics everywhere, with the Internet evermore at our fingertips… will people still read books like they used to? Will our attention spans survive?
I hope they will. I love movies, I love video games, I love television, but nothing can compare to the emotional depth of reading a book.
No movie can give us the last page of The Great Gatsby. No actual video game is as fun as
reading Ready Player One. The TV version of Game of Thrones is a lot of fun, but the longer it goes on the larger the books loom.
You know this. I know this. But are people going to keep reading?
What say you?
What say you, indeed? I say he’s right, but I’ll still keep reading. I think they’ll always be a market for books. However, what those books look like might be a bit different than what we’re used to in the not to distant past (think 50 Shades or Twilight.)
And that’s it from me.
See you all next week.