In September 2013, screenwriter Brian Koppelman started posting Vine videos that he called Six Second Screenwriting Lessons and tagged #sixsecondscreenwriting. He's posted more than 70 now. I'm doing my best to keep a collection here of links to them and transcriptions of them. They're great little jolts of motivation.
This is the full list of 76 as of Nov. 18, 2013.
And because you're smart people, you probably already picked up on this, but you can swap out "screenwriting" for whatever kind of writing you want to do.
"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author." — G.K. Chesterton
Or a good story. Or a good movie. Or anything good. It's all about the story, not the storyteller.
The number one thing I hear from amateur writers who think they can and/or should be writing is, "WHEN I WRITE, the words just FLOW."
That's not a bad thing. In fact, that's a very good thing. That means you're enjoying your work, and you have something to say. That's great. But it's only one of the first steps in making something that's actually going to be good for other people.
A few weeks ago, I had a deadline for a story I'm writing for a magazine. Some life stuff happened that made it impossible for me to spend the time on the story that I would've liked, but I still felt like I cranked out something pretty good. I thought it was pretty good because it came pretty easily. I tried not to overthink it, because that's gotten me in trouble in the past.
My editor sent notes back last week. In short, the story needed an entire rewrite.
Check this guy out. He finds a cracker as big as he is, then he can't get it over the ledge that leads back to his hole. And then he tries ... and tries ... and tries and tries and tries, until it seems like he gives up. But then he doesn't.
I don't mean to get all earnest and serious about a friggin' mouse, but man alive if this isn't one of the best real-life metaphors for what it takes to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish in life.
Watch this. Have a laugh.
Then get to work.
This is part of an email a reader and fellow journalist sent me regarding my Andre Dawkins story. He/she asked me to keep him/her anonymous, but graciously agreed to let me post it here. It's a quick little story about being a writer and having a heart.
A lot of people think that sportswriters have no hearts. Hell, some — many? — probably don't. I'd say that my heart has been as much of a detriment to me over the years as an asset and it's also made me realize, though it took a hell of a long time, that frankly I'm a crappy reporter because I DON'T like tackling "the hard stuff."
Many years ago, early in my career, my editor read a feature that ran in a newspaper elsewhere in our state about an individual who had just recently joined our "local sports community" the day before. To say that this young man had gone through experiences as a teenager that no one should ever have to go through at any time in their life would be an understatement.
Needless to say, when my editor read the story, I was assigned to interview this young man the next day and also write a feature about him. I understood I needed to do this, but sitting down with him (no less, the first time I'd even MET him) and asking him to talk about what he'd gone through was one of the most harrowing experiences of my own career (though child's play compared to what he'd been through himself).
Writing it was tough, as well. I focused as much as I could on his athletic accomplishments and prowess, and what he had done with his life in the few years since, but told his story ... or let him tell it.
I am still in touch with him to this day ... and one day I apologized to him for having asked him that day to rehash everything yet again (unprofessional as that may sound).
I can't remember his exact words, but he said basically that from the moment we started talking he could see in my eyes how much I was hurting with him and for him and that meant a lot to him.
It's about how Duke's Andre Dawkins as a freshman overcame the death of his sister to help Duke win an unlikely national championship only to crumble under the unresolved grief two years later and leave the team ... only to heal up and return for a final season this year. But really, it's about a lot more—stuff like the moral and ethical place of journalism, the strange ways we treat famous people and athletes different from how we treat "normal" people, and what it means to be a kid trying to become a man in a harsh public light. Easily the one of the most challenging stories of my career so far, perhaps second only to "The Prospect."
Really curious what the reaction will be to this one.