Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Story Told Me To

So I've been reading an interesting book lately (The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall). It's not so much how to write stories but more about how stories impact us and why they're important to us. I've been stuck in a funk the last few years because it really seems pointless to write a new script. I mean, the stories have been told before and if you're writing with a purpose - so few are actually listening that it just seemed - well - pointless to even waste my time. However, after discovering what Jonathan Gottschall has found (through a lot of research I didn't have to do) is that I'm totally wrong (at least about people listening). It seems that as a species, humans consume stories with such voracity that we just can't get enough. In addition, we are so attuned to story that we almost can't help but become entranced and affected by a good story and it's message. I'm one of those folks that will sit down to analyse a movie and I'm 100% into it for 5-10 minutes and then I realize after 45-60 minutes I've gotten totally wrapped up in the movie and haven't analyzed a thing. It's extremely difficult. To do it I have to analyze a movie scene by scene with a laptop or paper/pencil in front of me. I can't just, for instance, watch a movie to find the inciting incident and major breaks. I get too enthralled in the movie and then it's over. Thus, I can believe Gottschall when he says that it's more than just me who gets wrapped up in stories and forgets about everything else. In addition, these stories - and their lessons - do impact us. After showing a short film to a group of people, they were questioned on specific subjects afterwards and their answers were shaped by the content of the film. Not totally out of their character, and not permanently, but enough that it shows stories have a real world impact on us. A film that made an impact on me when I was younger is Wall Street. Not the "greed is good" part, but the line from Martin Sheen Charlie in the elevator when he explains how he should have something to show for his work at the end of the day. It was a message from Oliver Stone that has stuck with me to this day. So if you're writing something now. Have something to say, for while Eric Clapton laments "if I could change the world", we now have proof that we can change the world - even if it's one person at a time.

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