That’s the acid test for every writer: four words.
If somebody in line with you for the Largest Latte Known to Man asks what you’re working on, can you explain it in four words?
How about eight words?
Because if you can’t, you’re not really done.
And I don’t care that you’ve spent the last seven years locked away in a French monastery, slaving away 25 hours a day, eight days a week to perfect (a) The Great American Novel, Even Though It Was Written in France, (b) the movie script that will turn Hollywood on its ear and stop it from spending $250 million apiece on Michael Bay explosion-fests involving robots that transform into cars or whatever or (c) a punk-rock masterpiece with song after song with lyrics so beautiful, and rebelliously ugly, that anyone who listens to it quits working for The Man and buys an electric Fender so they can learn the only three chords you need to know to become AN INSANE ROCK GOD.
So let’s get down to it. If you haven’t already, read these posts to get all educated and such, even though it is technically cheating — because today, there is a quiz.
Proofing for boo-boos is easy. Line editing is tougher.
Structural editing is the toughest.
So let’s play around with a little flash fiction from Joey’s contest and see what we can do, first with a standard edit job, then with a different kind of big-picture spitballing. Continue reading
When was the last time you went to a movie and wanted to stay behind and watch it again?
What was the last political stump speech that made you laugh and cry and want to go knock on the doors of your neighbors to make sure they voted? When was the last time you read a newspaper story that built up to an amazing climax instead of petering off into boring little details?
More people are writing more things than ever before. Movies and TV shows, blogs and newspapers, hardcover novels and digital e-books. Yet most of it is forgettable. Trite. Boring.
It used to be, blockbuster movies were the ones that had amazing special effects.
STAR WARS showed us things we’d never seen before, like lightsabers. Who doesn’t want a lightsaber?
JURASSIC PARK gave us dinosaurs that weren’t claymation or puppets. Today, though, any old TV show can afford to have great special effects.
And with the written word — novels, speeches, non-fiction and poetry — every author has the same unlimited special effects budget. You can do whatever you want for free. So what’s the problem?
Because I am not a pretentious nancypants, I don’t typically watch movies with subtitles. They are in black-and-white, with people smoking French cigarettes while speaking French and watching things happen to other French people FOR NO DAMN REASON.
The only good part is the French cigarettes. I used to smoke Gallouise Blondes, which were smooth and expensive and glorious.
HOWEVER: all that is water under a bridge over the Seine.
We are talking about a different sort of foreign film with subtitles.
- Bonus No. 1: This film is 3 minutes long instead of three flipping hours.
- Bonus No. 2: There is hardly any talking, or any need to read the subtitles at all.
- Bonus No. 3: Most importantly, this little film can teach us all great big lessons about storytelling and structure.
Also, unless you have no soul, it will make drops of water drip from your eyes and scurry down your cheeks.
Here. Watch the clip in high definition. Or low def, it that’s your thing. Whatever floats your boat.
Hokay. All done?
Let’s take it apart and see what makes it tick. Continue reading