The world is a pretty exciting place right now and everywhere I go, and every writer I interact with, I get closer to “the secret.”
I feel like I’m hot on the trail of the Unified Field Theory for storytelling, the elusive “why” — not just “how” — of what lifts a story to a higher plane.
I was in Vancouver yesterday teaching a fantastic group of writers. It is always an amazing experience as where we are disappears and is replaced by the scenes and possibilities of everyone’s story. Magic happens in that room, no matter where that room is. As usual, we were breaking it down, using The Board to get at what made each story work, the underneath part, the DNA part, and I had one of those out of body experiences where I suddenly realized this is really important stuff we’re tackling here. I’ve been having more of these experiences lately, and with them comes the sense something big is coming, some new information is about to be revealed.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about anything I’ve pursued in my life.
Part of what this comes from is my background as a writer. In addition to writing or co-writing a lot of big spec screenplays, writing for TV on series for Disney, and selling pilots to ABC and Nickelodeon, I’ve had every kind of writing job conceivable. It also helps that I am third-generation movie business with a great uncle who worked for RKO and an Emmy Award-winning producer dad who raised me with a healthy steeping in advertising as well.
And all of this, everything I’ve picked up along the way, I’m realizing has been about… story.
For a series that began with a book claiming to be “The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need,” I am just now kicking into third gear.
I am writing Save the Cat! Strikes Back right now. This is subtitled: “More Trouble for Screenwriters to Get Into… and Out Of” and it’s the best, most fun Save the Cat! yet. It is a compendium of my own experience, and others, about hitting the wall in a script, and rebounding. This includes everything that goes with that experience — the “dark night of the script” moments — when it’s just you and you looking into the blackness wondering if you’re really cut out for this. It’s the premise of this book that it isn’t until you get to the trouble, hit a dead end, and run out of ideas, that real magic comes.
This is proved time and again in class.
I am also researching and will be writing before the year is out, Save the Cat! Falls in Love. This comes from my work with Romance Writers, and from whom I’ve had so many “ah-ha!” moments about what makes stories work — and “why” (see there it is again). It’s directly for Romance Writers in what I hope will be THE resource for this hugely popular market. But I also hope to get at why that story, the love story, is the most primal, most enduring, longest running lesson in history.
This is an adventure, and it’s taking me into all-new terrain, but by going outside one discipline, and into others, I hope to find the thing that makes it all tick, the thing that will make every story we tell make that tuning fork inside us all hum like mad.
I wake up every day running to the computer eager to hear from you and learn more about what you have to tell me. I have a lot to learn, and you are teaching me tons! It goes without saying, but I’m saying it: I’m grateful! Letâ€™s keep this conversation going, and keep finding what it takes to write stories that truly resonate.
P.S. From my talk the other day, we will be posting in the Tools section a free download that is a three-page overview of Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies, a really handy reference.