Tuesday, June 01, 2010


This is what Neil Landau, screenwriter who brought us such television and movie gems as Melrose Place, Doogie Howser, MD, and the Magnificent Seven, says in his book 101 Things I Learned in Film School (with Matthew Frederick). I won this nifty treasure in a contest run by the good writerly dudes at 3 GUYS 1 BOOk. I'm no screenwriter, but this book applies to novelists as well. So well I am going to innundate you with tips for the rest of the year in hopes you'll pick up your own copy HERE.

Start Strong.

For movie makers, this means open with a strong image, one that suggests the film's main theme and prompt intrigue as to where the movie is headed. For storytellers, starting strong means engage the reader in action. So ditch all the stuff that drags -- Ditch backstory. Ditch dialogue. Ditch waking up on another rainy day or driving aimlessly to some numbfuck destination or telling us about all the purty scenery while driving to numbfuck.

The first page must introduce us to the protagonist, give us his peril, tell us his stakes and thus, his quest. Make the beginning full of trouble, and give the protag a dilemma from which his choice at this opening moment dogs him until the end. The front page is where to establish theme. But most of all, the front page sucks us in.

Of course, the beginning is always the toughest to write, one reason why I pretty much write it last.

June marks new beginnings, too. I want to start summer STRONG, and make leftbrainwrite part of my sea change. So I'm gonna switch it up a bit here, commit myself to a schedule of sorts:

>>Mondays: Open mic -- I'll write on whatever moves me
>>Tuesdays: A snippet from a book or reading that addresses the art, craft, and science of writing
>>Wednesdays: REVIEWS!!!!! INTERVIEWS!!!!! Books, chapbooks, and fav stories from small and indy presses by fabulous authors!!!!!
>>Thursdays: What's new in science of the mind
>>Fridays: An original story or poem from YT for your weekend reading pleasure

Peace, Linda


  1. Sounds like an awesome plan - I'll be reading! :-)

  2. Thanks for the post... I've dabbled in the form and have found that screenwriting books offer so much valuable advice.

    Look forward to the posts.

  3. Damn you're ambitious! Definitely agree with starting strong, but never thought about making it the starting point for theme also.

    I think I'll have what you're having.

  4. very disciplined, give yourself time to read, breath and be spontaneous, don't become a slave to schedule and form at the sacrifice of pursuing what's hot when it's hot..

  5. Ha, you guys are all looking out for me -- thank you! Of course I give myself permission to breathe and read and break my own rules ;^) -- but I also need to whip this bloggo back in shape. it was starting to behave like one of my characters -- unruly and miscreant! peace...

  6. Funny, I was just talking to my wife last night about the lessons learned in a high school film appreciation course I took oh so many ages ago. Specifically, the opening and closing scenes of a movie are the two most important parts, in that order. I've always felt the same applied to stories, of any length.

    Good luck on you new LBW schedule. I can't promise to visit daily, but I'll sure try. You're always worth reading.