Saturday, April 7, 2007

on the premise

when i was an undergrad, i was a theater minor. i took a dramatic writing class with michael dinwiddie. two things happened that semester:

1) i wrote a spec script for living single. it was out and hot during that time and i decided to try my hand at a new medium. it was an awesome experience - at times i could hear the characters speaking and i would write as quickly as i could to be true to their conversation. i realized i really liked writing, and once characters were developed, i could truly hear them. it was fascinating

2) i was introduced to the art of dramatic writing by lajos egri. even though i let my day to day living get in the way of writing, i know the principles within this book will be the key to my becoming a master storyteller.

number two is my focus this morning.

every time i feel the stir, i pull that book off the shelf. last night was no different. i never get very far (and that's just b/c once again i let life overshadow writing). but i am always so amped after reading a few lines. the basic building block, he says, of any dramatic work, should be the premise.

"every sensible invention must have a purpose, every planned sprint a destination." this is the premise.

he says, "no idea, and no situation, was ever strong enough to carry you through to its logical conclusion without a clear-cut premise."

i like this book b/c he takes classic plays and analyzes them in light of his theories. premises from well-known plays include:
  • ruthless ambition leads to its own destruction
  • the sins of the father are visited on the children
  • jealousy destroys itself and the object of its love
  • shiftlessness leads to ruin
  • faith conquers pride
he goes on about it for awhile, describing how to write them, and if some plays really fulfill them, but this isn't a book review. it's just an explanation of where i am and how i got here. for now i am at the premise stage - i am developing the premise for my piece. i say piece b/c i have yet to decide if i'm writing a play, a screenplay, a novel, a short story, etc. but i suppose i am stuck, with no subject or idea b/c i have no premise driving me. i have attempted to write a premise in the past, but i never had any conviction in it. once again we have a window into my block.

this time is different though. i will write one i believe in and can follow through to its conclusion.

i shall find my premise and i shall be on my way!

Friday, April 6, 2007

EQ #1 - the master storyteller

so r and i spoke at length last night. i asked him the first essential question of writing that popped into my head. lately i've seen references to "master storytellers." i just finished reading bebe moore campbell's final book 72 Hour Hold and she was heralded as "a writer at the top of her form as a storyteller...". i think the book is beautifully written, and tells an interesting story. but i'm not sure it was "masterful storytelling." i was intrigued. i wondered. i pondered.

i asked: "what makes one a master storyteller?" in the dialogue that followed we spoke of great contemporary literature, plays and movies. we dicussed the differences between great writers (toni morrison) and great storytellers (pearl cleage, james patterson); the difference between a great story (dan haskins leads texas western to a national championship with the first all black starting line up) and how it can fall short in the telling (glory road); the role of subplot in strengthening (or dampening) the plot.

it was an interesting conversation i think. i came away with a few things to chew on. mainly the importance of character and character motivation. the truly great storytellers have characters we miss or think about once the story has ended. we know them. we love them, including all their faults and thorns. we are inside of them. we are them. it's their lives we're reading about or experiencing and we've been invited inside. the great writers wordsmith, but the storytellers make us care. it's interesting. yes, you can be a master storyteller who is also a great writer. or you could be one or the other. you could also simply be fair at either. or sadly, you could be poor at both (and still be successful, and that sucks!). authors in this last category shall remain nameless. for now.

what makes one a master storyteller?

the blocked writer unblocks


i am lady buddha. i am, among other things, a blocked writer. i have decided to create this blog in partial treatment of this block. i am struggling to find my voice - or more accurately, my subject/s. i have recently begun to ask myself a series of questions toward understanding the way of the writer. well... not really the way of the writer, but of the successful writer. and even more than just successful, but that writer who truly commands a captive audience. who enlightens, inspires, or entertains us. the writer who grabs us, holds us, and doesn't let go until s/he has delivered the message and left us to reflect.

i want to be that writer, but so often i feel i have nothing to say. i think i could say "it" well, but what is it?

so through blogging, i'm hoping to begin to find "it."

i don't know how often i will post, nor if my posts will be visible to everyone. we'll see. this is my journey to discover the writer within...