Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

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ARCHIVES OF October, 2013

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Writing and Money, Part 3

By Steven Pressfield | Published: October 30, 2013

In last week’s post I made a case for writing out of love. This week lemme dig into that idea a little deeper.

The profession of writer (or musician or filmmaker or athlete) is not really a “job” like other jobs. It’s not like working in a coal mine or toiling in a cubicle as a telemarketer. It’s not something we do purely to put food on the table.

We write or paint or dance out of love. We would do it even if nobody paid us.

In the fields of the arts and entertainment, the principles that apply to payment-for-labor are, shall we say, unconventional. What factors make them that way?

1. There are thousands, even millions of aspirants who would gladly donate a kidney to get our jobs. The glamour! The sex! The moolah! Not even shame can stop them. How many of our daughters would twerk all night if they could be Miley Cyrus?

2. We ourselves would donate a kidney.

Would Tiger Woods compete in next year’s Masters for free? Would Rafael Nadal show up at Wimbledon?

In fields like the arts and athletics, the reward transcends lucre. If you or I came up with the greatest sales promo in history for Byron Jackson submersible pumps, not even our spouses or Golden retrievers would give a damn. But to win an Oscar? The National Book Award?

3. The rewards paradigm in the arts and athletics is nuts.

There are 20,000 members in the Writers Guild West, the screen- and TV-writers union in Los Angeles. How many actually make a living? If it’s one in ten, I’ll be amazed. And that doesn’t count the, what, hundred thousand other aspiring scriptwriters who are waiting tables in Sherman Oaks or the million-plus in Bangor and Bogalusa who are saving up, even now, to make the move to L.A. Are these guys and gals any less deserving than the few who have figured out how to make a living? They’re busting their butts! They’re sacrificing! They’re giving it all they’ve got! Is there any justice in this racket?

Meanwhile at the tippy-top, the 1% are bringing home serious dinero. They’re hogging the spotlight! J.K. Rowling made 300 mill in 2008. Her net worth today is near $1B. Kobe Bryant’s net per year is $220M; Tiger with endorsements has topped the career billion-mark. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
24 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Conventions and Obligatory Scenes

By Shawn Coyne | Published: October 25, 2013

Here’s some more from “The Story Grid.”

The iPhone abides its Genre

If I hand you my novel and tell you it’s a murder mystery, what would you expect from the book before you even turned the title page?

  1. You’d expect that someone will be killed early in the telling, if not on the very first page.
  2. You’d expect that there will be an investigator called in to solve the crime.
  3. You’d expect certain stock characters to appear throughout the novel. The “Watson” to the novel’s Sherlock Holmes for example.
  4. You’d expect false clues in the plot otherwise known as “red herrings.”
  5. You’d expect an eventual confrontation between the investigator and the murderer.
  6. You’d expect an ending that either results in justice (the murderer is discovered and pays for his crime), injustice (the murderer gets away) or irony (the investigator gets his man, but loses someone or something in the process).

So what happens if I fail to deliver even just one element from the above list? (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
12 Comments

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Writing and Money, Part 2

By Steven Pressfield | Published: October 23, 2013

Today’s post is a follow-up to last week’s Is Money Necessary?, which was inspired by Charles Rosasco’s recent note to me:

Lemmon

Jack Lemmon won an Oscar for his performance in “Save the Tiger,” written by Steve Shagan

I’m really sick of hearing famous actors/writers/musicians talk about how unimportant money and success are (that it is “just the work” that fulfills them). How do we keep expecting to get paid/make a living?

Again, what I have to say here is not intended as “wisdom” or as any definitive statement. It’s just my own take on the subject.

To me, the most valuable capital a writer has is time. Time to write, time to learn his craft, time to get better.

Money exists to protect that time. That’s all money is to me. I couldn’t care less about cars or houses or first-class excursions to Zamboanga. My luxury is to be able to work and to keep working.

When I was teaching myself to write, in my twenties and thirties, here’s what I used to do. I’d work at a real job (usually in advertising in New York) and save my money till I had enough to last me about two years. Then I’d quit, move someplace really cheap, rent a place, and write full-time. I did this three times between 1967 and 1980.

I never sold anything. Never got anything published. Never made a penny.

During this time I never thought about money, except as a means by which I could keep trying to write. I love reading novels like Knut Hamsun’s Hunger about writers starving in garrets because that was exactly my world. I remember renting a little house in Carmel Valley, California for a hundred bucks a month. The elderly couple who owned the place wanted to be sure I could pay the rent over two years. I had to show them my bankbook, which had $2700 in it. Somehow they accepted it.

I could live on unbelievably small amounts of money. I didn’t mind starving because every dollar I saved bought me more time to keep working.

When I finally did sell a novel in 1994, the advance was $25K. The check vanished in about twenty minutes to pay debts. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
35 Comments
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