Saturday, March 16, 2013

My 11 Commandments

I did a consultation with a development exec about a month ago. His knowledge about comedy and story are impressive. I'm looking forward to our next consultation with a new draft based on all his clever suggestions.

One of his suggestions was that I should list ten things to use as my commandments. Put them on a wall. Let them be a reminder of what I need to do. Wall. Blog. Same thing.

I ended up with 11. I’ve compiled it based on some of the wonderful things I’ve learned from people like that devel exec, Orson Scott Card, John Cleese, The Actor’s Studio, my friends, and my mom. 

1. Don't be married to words. Be married to the ideas behind them. Too many great words kill a good read.

2. Use the best characters for my story and it's audience, not just the ones I enjoy writing.

3. Don't settle on the first idea no matter how brilliant. I can always come back to it, but never pass up an opportunity to brainstorm. It’s is a free ticket to go nuts. Use it to be bold. Sexy. Inappropriate. Angry. Wild. Random. Idiotic. Truthful. 

4. Listen to my gut when it's telling me something needs more work. If I have to ask... "Is this too..." the answer is always "Yes". Convincing myself something is good means that it isn't.

5. Don't simply watch the movie unfold as I write. Live it. Be in it. Feel what the characters are feeling. Wear their shoes.

6. If I don't adore my main character, if I'm not anxious for them, horrified, elated, devastated, then no one else will be.

7. Keep it simple. One goal. One story. One theme. Overcomplicating is easy. Simple is hard.

8. Write a killer logline before committing to the story. If I can't interest someone in the concept, then it doesn't matter how it’s written. No one will read it. A logline is the quickest way to see if I'm about to waste a colossal amount of time and effort.

9. Learn from the least likely source. If someone is willing to help me, be grateful, regardless of their suggestions. Ideas are like balls in a pinball machine. The more they bounce around, the more points I'm going to get in my game.

10. Trust my path. It's not going to be the same as anyone else's. If someone says I can't do something, remember that's what they feel they can't do. Listen. Learn. Evaluate. Be open-minded. Be honest. Keep going. Onward and upward.

11. The very best way to learn how to write is to write lots.