Steve's All Is Lost Moment, 1974




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What It Takes

What It Takes

The Power of Negative Thinking

By Shawn Coyne | Published: December 30, 2016

[I’ll return to my Love Story mini-series in my next What it Takes post in the new year.  In the meantime, this oldy by goody from 2015 is worth another look.]

So just how do you take your story to the end of the line…to the limits of human experience?

The storyteller needs a tool to not only understand this concept, but to evaluate whether or not they have successfully done so. And if you’re writing a big story, you have to go to the end of the line.

Positive Thinking Gets All the Press

The trick to figuring out how to do that is discovering what Robert McKee calls the negation of the negation of your global story value.  Once you understand the negation of the negation of a global story value you will discover whether or not your draft or your murky foolscap sketch for a story has legs.  And in the process, if you do this work early and often, you’ll be able to clearly understand the obligatory scenes and promises that you are making to the reader by your choice of genre and or mix of genres.

Let’s take a step back and look at Story values again.

What the Hell am I talking about when I use the phrase “story value?”


Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

Do This

By Callie Oettinger | Published: December 23, 2016

Bruce Springsteen has a memoir out — and interviews have followed its release like B pursuing A.

During an interview for PBS’s “Newshour,” Jeffrey Brown brought up Springsteen’s voice.

Jeffrey Brown: You write about your voice. You say, about my voice, “First of all, I don’t have much of one.” (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

My Secret

By Callie Oettinger | Published: November 18, 2016

When it was my publishing house’s turn to present its Fall/Winter line of books, I was introduced as the senior editor. One of the quick-witted sales reps quipped, “If she’s the senior editor, how old is the junior editor?”

I was 22 years old, attending — and presenting — at my first sales conference, and not yet a full year into being an editor.

My first job out of college was as a junior editor for a small publishing house in Florida. Within a few months, my boss said goodbye to the senior editor and I was promoted. This was a mom and pop operation, so I went from editing sales copy, sending manuscript rejection letters, and answering the phone, to acquiring and editing manuscripts, packaging books, writing marketing materials, negotiating author and vendor contracts, managing relationships with authors and vendors, and developing and implementing publicity campaigns — while still editing sales copy, sending manuscript rejection letters, and answering the phone.

No training.

Lots of time alone in the office, operating on instinct and a prayer.

It ended up being two and a half years of shooting the rapids, of going solo, of working from the gut.


Posted in What It Takes
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