Give a Man a Fish

I have a young friend who sees himself as a writer of screenplays. He has education along those lines, with some of it coming from me. He’s currently working on a short film that he has high hopes for. I’ve read the script, and I also believe that it shows some promise. I’ve actually read the script three times, not because I was that infatuated with it, but because my friend keeps bringing it back to me, hoping I will tell him how to fix it. Another friend had referred to it as a “diamond in the rough.” It’s been through about five or six drafts, but has many more to go.

Because I knew my young friend was interested in script writing, I gave him a copy of “Story” by Robert McKee, the exceptional book on script writing that we are using for a textbook in my Drama Writing class. I checked back with him yesterday. Six months after receiving the book, he reports that he has read five pages in the book.

Now, I am happy to help students and former students out with their writing projects, but I am not willing to do their work for them. And a large part of the work of writing is recognizing what you don’t know, and finding out how you can learn it. For example, my weakness is the rewrite process. Even after 40 years of writing, I struggle–just as my young friend does–with knowing what needs to be fixed, and then going through the process of fixing it. That’s why I shared this book with this young writer.

As I have said many times before, if you are serious about being a writer, you never stop being a student. That also means reading everything you can get your hands on about writing, specifically those areas that you need to grow in. Forty years in, and I still do this. I don’t think I will ever master the craft, and that’s part of what entices me about writing.


On other fronts, I am struggling with National Novel Writing Month. I am presently working on “Infinity’s Reach,” the retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress set in post-apocalyptic America. My main character started off in Tennessee on a trip across the country, and at the halfway mark of the book, she is still in Tennessee. I am realizing that the book will likely be much larger and more complex that I had originally envisioned. For the purposes of NaNoWriMo, I just need to average 1,000 words a day to finish with my 50,000 words, but more important than the word count is completing the novel. Right now, I am just going to focus on getting some words on paper every single day–no matter how few or how crappy they sound to me as I am writing them.

That’s what NaNoWriMo is all about. Quantity, not quality.

Talk to ya later.