I have arrived safely in London, and really look forward to my weekend seminar. I have been preparing for it for several weeks now with something special that I am eager to spring on my class. And I can’t wait to see their reaction. This is my third trip to London since Save the Cat! was first published and I am more excited — and getting better at handling the jet lag — with every visit.
I feel fortunate to meet so many writers around the world, and be immersed in so many different storytelling traditions. From my experiences with filmmakers in China this past fall, to the amazing insights I’ve gleaned from the marvelous members of the Romance Writers of America, to writers I will meet this weekend that include representatives from Spain, Poland, Germany, and France, I continue to be amazed at our common cause. It’s because at core what we’re involved in, and care vitally about, is trying to grab hold of that elusive glimmer in our imaginations — and wrestle it to the ground.
The more I travel, the more I realize the image of “the writer alone in the room, staring at a blank page” is false — or can be. I believe in the small group. I believe in peer-to-peer feedback. I believe in exchange of ideas and new notions about what “story” is, and incorporating it all! Being part of our common cause, sharing experience and insight, is empowering. But the best part is: We’re not alone.
I got an email from an insightful young writer here in the UK yesterday asking “Is the Three Act Structure dead?” To be honest, I told him, I don’t understand the question. To me, what storytelling is about is “transformation” and “being touched by the divine” — that’s all we care about. And however we frame that, be it three acts or four, multiple story lines, or full-on flashbacks doesn’t matter — so long as we deliver on those two key — and universal — requirements. The idea that there is a young writer out there both questioning concepts of structure, and theories about how to make storytelling better, is such an exciting prospect. We keep learning, we keep sharing what we find, and we improve.
So when we do finally get back to our computer screens, or writing pads, or get ensconced with our portables in a coffee shop and are… alone at last… all that beautiful information, and feedback, can be part of the story we are telling. I love being away to gather new thoughts, but love being back at the Wurlitzer keyboard too, alone, thinking about all I’ve learned, and ready for the next Fade In…
It’s the only way to travel.