This is a great and honest comic about three young boys dealing with death for the first time. Stick with it till the end. Read the whole thing here.
Werner Herzog, for those who don’t know, is a great director from Germany. He’s made some genuine masterpieces down the years as well as being known for eating his own shoe. Anyway, here he is reading ‘Go the F**k to Sleep’ by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes. If you don’t like bad language, don’t watch.
A few years ago, Joss Whedon, writer of creator of Buffy among other things, shared his top 10 writing tips with 4Talent magazine. They’re mostly aimed at screenwriters but could easily apply to most types of writing, particularly any fiction. So here they are, with some of my thoughts after in italics.
1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.
This is so true. There really is nothing worse than a story or script hanging over your head.- Alan
Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.
Some people might not like structure but I think it’s good idea that if you do find yourself stuck to revert back to structure. I’m not big into making notes, although I have started making Post-It notes of what I’m writing that day.- Alan
3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys ?’
4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE
Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.
This is brilliant advice and it’s so so true. The best pieces of writing always make sure everyone has a perspective. A great example of this is the George R Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series. Perspective just gives you more layered characters and this is vital to a good story. – Alan
5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.
The above is the advice from Dr Seuss to the children of Troy Michigan in 1971 when their librarian asked for advice to young readers to celebrate the opening of the new library. More after the jump from Asimov and White.
A new mysterious website has appeared with the tantalizing name of ‘Pottermore’. It’s sparked off rumours that JK Rowling is working on some more Harry Potter books…
From the Guardian website:
Harry Potter fans have been sent into a frenzy of excitement after the creator of their favourite wizard, JK Rowling, launched a mysterious new website.
The website, Pottermore.com, currently only shows the word “Pottermore” on a pink background, with the promise of more “coming soon” and Rowling’s famous signature emblazoned below. A Twitter account, @Pottermore, has also been set up, and already has almost 25,000 followers. Fans were guided to the site yesterday by a “Secret Street View” challenge, which saw ten Potter fansites given coordinates, each of which led to a single letter. Put together, the letters spelled out Pottermore.
Today is Bloomsday, when fans of literature the world over celebrate the life and work of Irish author James Joyce. He’s most famous for the masterpieces ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Dubliners’ but many people don’t know that he wrote a children’s story for his son Stephen. It was based on an old French myth. The Devil in the story even spoke in a Dublin accent.
The World Street Performance Champtionships are taking place this weekend in Dublin (starting today). On Saturday and Sunday they’re trying to break a world record to get the most Where’s Wallys in one photo at one time.
To get in the mood, I thought I might share this fun Where’s Wally (or Waldo for our American friends) game.
Another tip for all the Wally fans out there. You can now buy all the Wally books in one handy travel pack for under €15!
I’m at home in Leitrim for a couple days and I came across my old word processor cum typewriter. It’s bulky, weighs a tonne and it’s nigh-on impossible to get the cartridges anymore but I would hate to part with it. I wrote some of my first published stories on it. They’re probably still stored on floppy discs somewhere… And it still works! Despite being about 15 years old, it’s in better working order than any of my older laptops. I might write another story on it one day. I just need to find one that fits…
These are some photos of Kids Republic, a childrens bookshop in Beijing. This burst of colour is actually situated in a boring office building!
On the 26th of March 2005, I settled down to watch the TV. It was a sunny Saturday evening and the television was tuned into BBC One. An ad came on; ‘Coming up next, the new series of Doctor Who.’ Doctor Who? I thought. Interesting. I’d seen the TV movie a few years previously which had cast Paul McGann as the time travelling Doctor and set him off on an adventure in America. And I had fake recollections of seeing the odd seventies episode on UK Gold or some other satellite channel when I was younger. But that was as far as my knowledge went so I figured I’d leave the Beeb on and check out the new series.