HomeDiscussion GroupsSelf-Pub UThe Ten "Thou Shalts" to Being a Better Writer (Session Notes from Brian Bird)

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Brian Bird Closing Session Notes for “Connecting Writers With Hollywood 2017”

1. Thou Shalt know why before you figure out how.
If you are a writer, you need confirmation that you are supposed to do this work. If you don’t follow the call, you are selling yourself and the world short. You have a gift to give.

Why: What is your mission? You must figure out what you want to be about.

2. Thou shalt not listen to all the negative tapes playing in your head.
What do the tapes say in your head? Things like, “How did you ever think you could do this? How did you ever fake your way in to this? It’s called the “Imposter Syndrome”. Don’t listen to them.

3. Thou shalt be in the business of loving people.
The people you work alongside with. Love them. If you re an authentic friend maker (no strings attached), they will like you back. Strive to be a blessing. The law of sowing and reaping. Being an authentic friend just makes good business sense.

4. Thou shalt be part of the conversation.
The media conversation is happening with or without you. If you have something to say, say it loud and with some taste. We cannot go in to our genre bubble and stay there. Speak loudly and ask great questions.

5. Thou shalt respect the path to power.
The truth is, that in Hollywood, he who has the gold, makes the rules, or, he who’s butt is in the chair, makes the decisions. As a writer, you need to chip away at the impossibility until the impossibility is gone. Until it does become possible. Life isn’t fair, so you beat back the unfairness. Every person in that place of power has earned that position and has worked hard to get there.

6. Thou shalt know the difference between excellence and mediocrity.
Shouldn’t we be trying to be the Michelangelo of what we do? Pursuing excellence is a human thing. It requires the 10,000 rule. The premise is, you have to put in 10,000 hours to be an expert. Bill Gates didn’t just arrive. He started in high school. The Beatles got hired to go to Germany for 2 years to play at a club. They played 8 hours a day for 2 years. The Beatles got really good playing day in and day out cover songs. JJ Abrams started writing scripts at 9 years old. The 10,000 hour rule is huge. We have got to put our time in.

7. Thou shalt tell great stories.
What do little kids ask us to do? They ask us to tell them a story. The stages of the hero’s journey, etc. are the same. Humans want story constantly. Whether that story is forgiveness, sacrifice, community, resurrection, etc. We are wired for the three-act structure.

The three-act structure is a model used in screenwriting that divides a fictional narrative into three parts (acts), often called the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution.

We are dialectical: relating to the logical discussion of ideas and opinions. 1. The Thesis. 2. Contradiction (anti-thesis). 3. Synthesis.

Good writers tell great stories because that is how we are wired.

There are formula’s to writing. There are only seven story plots.

The Seven Basic Plots are the basics of plot-writing.
• Overcoming the Monster.
• Rags to Riches.
• The Quest.
• Voyage and Return.
• Comedy.
• Tragedy.
• Rebirth.

You need to tell the story so the audience cannot see the bucket (the formula).
If you want to be a good writer; be a writer in every area.
Make the audience and reader fall in love with your characters. Plot and character. They are woven together.

Message: You send a message in everything you do. It’s what you want the world to learn. It’s how well you weave it in. Writing is social commentary. Make the world better or teach it something. Smuggle the precious gems in to the story. Not propaganda.

8. Though shalt copy.
The student copies the master but brings their own self in to the project. In novels, art, screenplays, etc. You read the good ones. Read the excellent work. You can mimic! Read great scripts. Prime the pump and draw inspiration.

Nothing is made from nothing.

9. Thou shalt leave the door open behind you.
Doing good deeds on purpose. Keep your foot in the door for someone else. Cone your values. Leave your mark on the world. Do it for you and them.

The writing skill you have is an instrument. Don’t get good enough to be in a garage band, get good enough to be in the symphony.

10. Thou shalt know God is and was a writer.
A giant narrative has been written through space and time. We have a tiny strand of the writer’s DNA. Be God’s typist. Take good dictation. Write what comes and don’t second guess yourself. Just go. It’s your turn to take the next step.

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Started by: Andrea Reider Design  • 

Great article! Lots of inspiring and helpful advice.

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