Write through the suck.

It’s a new year, and the reason why we even have such a thing is because as humans we really need to mark the changing of time to evaluate how the hell we are doing. I mention this, I take the time to write this post, for myself and for anyone that is taking the time to notice the time. We need time. It is how we judge our health. Health of body, mind and soul. Are we better or worse. Richer/poorer. More or less in love with people, things or ourselves.

With that, I think a lot of us should stop paying attention to time;)

It really isn’t there you know. It’s a construct we made up, today doesn’t know that yesterday happened, and tomorrow really isn’t a thing. It really is just one moment strung across an infinite amount of time. We break it down to years, days, minutes so that we can measure different aspects of reality. It’s good for some things, like keeping us on track, loosing weight, making sure we have enough money or food or love to keep us going, but for the creative, it can be a disaster.

With creativity, forget time. It’s not just useless, it’s creativities disaster.

I ran across this little video of “successful” screenwriters giving tips on writing screenplays. I put successful in quotes not to be shitty, but because I think it’s funny that we need people that are deemed successful to give us advice. All of these people had the same advice when no one knew them, and it was just as valid then, if not more so, then now. It’s what Im talking about; it doesn’t matter how much time it takes to “make” something … it is the “making” that is the goal.

 

It’s a great video … and it relates to so much more then screenwriting. It really is good advice for anything creative or passion driven in your life. If it’s the desire of travel, making of films, or learning to bake, this advice hits home. Now with this new year upon us, take a second to reflect that every day is a possible new year, and in reality no day is a start of something new. It is a continuation of all time, and if this moment in that great moment is when you start something, consider for a second that maybe it’s not an actual start, as it’s been in the mail so to speak since the beginning of time, and just happens to be now that is presents itself. That said, whatever it is, stay at it, and remember to “write through the suck” because the suck is part of all of it.

Happy 2019.

Aaron Sorkin’s Master Class

Much like a pair of Ugg’s on blond girl’s named Becky, I’ve been seeing ads for Aaron Sorkin’s Master Class on Scriptwriting everywhere. Obviously the internet knows me better than I do so I decided to watch it. This is my take away.

Aaron Sorkin is friggin’ adorable first of all. Kinda nerdy, kinda a badass, and very cool. Yes, he also knows some things about writing scripts.

What I liked about it was that it was really one successful screenwriters take on how they write. What works, what they look for, where they screw up, etc. It’s not a “this is the bottom line about screenwriting, all these rules must be followed” more like “this is what made me Aaron Sorkin”. So if you like play-like television scripted drama, this is your bang bus.

While watching I decided to take a few notes when something struck me as interesting or funny or both. Enjoy.

 

Advice from the Aaron Sorkin Master Class:

 

  • You have to have conflict. Just a story about a bunch of friends on a road trip isn’t going to get people invested. There has to be conflict. Someone has to be somewhere on a certain date, and everything goes against that happening. Conflict.
  • Press on it. Is the conflict strong enough. If 20 dollars or a phone call will fix the conflict, it’s not great enough. Never has it been said the obstacle is too great. They also don’t have to win. They just have to try.
  • Set up intentions. Have your character say “I want” or “I need”. This is an easy way to tell the audience what we’re in for.
  • Stories involve motion. If it’s not moving then you don’t need it.
  • Probable improbability is better than an improbable probability. The fact that ET will follow a trail of Recess Pieces is a probable improbability that the audience will entertain. The possibility that a detective on a job is the only person the FBI can call at that given moment to disarm a bomb is an improbable probability that is just ridiculous and the audience will question. There is a fix though… having the character call it out. “I’m the only person you can call right now?” is all you need. Just have the character validate the improbably probability and all will be forgiven.
  • Odd numbers and words with a K in them are funny.
  • Aaron Sorkin does not know how to pronounce modernity.
  • Aristotle is God and Poetica is his bible.
  • Clear intention and obstacle is the root of story.
  • Sorkin doesn’t visualize his scripts. He hears them. He writes as little description as possible. He relies on the Director to bring the visualization and the actor to bring the intention. His scripts are around 180 pages long therefor and still run 2 hours or less.
  • Paraphrasing here, but when things are shitty, you are just more honest. You just don’t have the energy to sugar coat life, or your writing. So struggle is important for a writer/artist. That bartending job is actually doing you good.
  • Why martin sheen smoked on the west wing as the president. (made him human)
  • Although he talks a lot on the Bush / Gore race, the comments he makes about a country divided make more sense now than ever, as if we are reliving a more vibrant moment in history.
  • Dialogue is music…the same rules apply. This reminds me of an Italian teacher that asked why Italian was generally so pleasing to the ear. The answer was in the word “melodia” (melody)… broken out it is “me lo dia” or “speak to me”.
  • No lifelike line of dialogue ever began or ended with the word damn’t.

There you have it folks. Definitely worth the watch, it’s fun, fast, and there is a ton of good take away. He also does a segment with 6 students who read the opening of their scripts and he does a little analysis on them. It’s worth watching a master find the good and the bad in young writers.

Thanks Aaron Sorkin. Thanks for the walk and talk. You’re the bomb.

Roberto Serrini is a professional traveler who records his adventures in wordphotography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a commercial film director and drone pilot. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well.

You are not original. (and that’s good)

This is a story about, well, stories. If you come here to read about travel, or maybe to get some technical knowhow about drones, chances are you are doing it because you love “story”.

This week, perusing the internets, as you do, I found a surprising amount of films about story, more specifically about the structure of stories. I hardly find it odd when the collective world (internet) unconscious swells together on a subject, in many ways it is the digital version of “A hero of a thousand faces” or in this case “A meme of a thousand blog posts”. Either way, it incited me to add to that unconscious, maybe waking up the three people out there that were not fully aware that all stories, are beautifully the same.

You may hear the positivity in my voice through the post that every story is the same. That wasn’t always there. When I was just a wee lad (of 19) I decided to study film, specifically Film Theory, because I really wanted a struggle when I left school. In so, I read a lot of philosophy, critique, and one book that is basically the bible of all Theory: Hero of a Thousand Faces, by Mr. Joe Campbell. (Side note: If HOATF is Batman Begins, then The Writer’s Journey by Chris Vogler is the animated series. Equally as good, perhaps a little more digestible)

Before I ever wrote, made, or conceived of a script I was told that my idea was not original, and if it were, it surely would not work as a film.

Kinda a dick punch if you ask me.

At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Thinking I couldn’t live without originality on my side. I thought to be anything in this world you had to be original, you had to break the rules. I mean what would Tarentino, Aronofski, Dan Harmon think about that?!

They would agree with my professors apparently. Here is Dan Harmon on the Hero’s Journey:

Why this ritual of descent and return? Why does a story have to contain certain elements, in a certain order, before the audience will even recognize it as a story?

Because our society, each human mind within it and all of life itself has a rhythm, and when you play in that rhythm, it resonates.

I mean have you seen some of Dan Harmon’s work? If this guy follows the rules, then shit, I gotta recalibrate my thinking.

After I got past my teenage angst I started to watch films like a scholar instead of an audience. Once I learned about the formula that went into story, it was impossible to unsee it, much like a trained chef can’t take a bite of food without dissecting its flavor element by element, even unconsciously.

What started as resentment gave way to security over the years. Being told to follow the rules with creativity was difficult, but after seeing how it functioned in the real world, over and over, something changes inside; you begin to become comfortable trusting the rules, releasing you from “changing the game” to “playing it differently” which is ultimately easier to wrap your head around.

So, be like everyone else. There is a skill in that too. Check out these two videos, they’re very well done, and will make you look at story a whole different way.Well, the same way, but you get what I’m saying.

 

And if you want more, here is a whole channel of videos devoted to the subject of story. And I paid 40k for 30 hours of free youtube videos…