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When I began [writing Game of Thrones], I didn’t know what the hell I had. I thought it might be a short story; it was just this chapter, where they find these direwolf pups. Then I started exploring these families and the world started coming alive. It was all there in my head, I couldn’t not write it. So it wasn’t an entirely rational decision, but writers aren’t entirely rational creatures.”
George RR Martin
The Guardian article by Alison Flood

“I’m a fast writer. Maybe not the best, but the fastest.”
Stan Lee

RollingStone printed a “Lost” Q&A with Stan Lee and here’s an excerpt that gives you a glimpse of how quickly ideas for the comic books featuring X-Men, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. Books in the Marvel universe that became the foundations for movies that made billions of dollars at the box office.

Brian Haiatt: Someone asked Bob Dylan, how did you write all those 1960s songs in a short period? And he looked back, and even he doesn’t quite know how he did it. Do you feel the same way?

Stan Lee: No, I know how I did it. I was very lucky, it came really easily to me. Once I knew who the villain was, and if I had already established the main characters, which you only had to do once, then writing the story didn’t take that long. It took a little less than a day. You know, I’d wake up in the morning, I’d talk to my wife for a while, and read the paper, and then I’d start writing, and by dinner time it was over, and I had done the book.

I don’t know if Stan Lee had any superhero powers, but he sure got a lot done on some days. In that interview Lee said of his ideas for the comic books, “Usually a day is all any of them took.”

P.S. Of the $24 billion that Marvel movies have made, one of them was this year’s top-grossing film The Black Panther, which alone made 1.3 billion worldwide. Lee created that character with Jack Kirby in 1966.

Scott W. Smith

 

 

“How did I learn screenwriting? Endless hours at the typewriter, then the computer, which came along later. It was really a lot of applied time and effort and self-study. Which is the way most people learn.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)
The Best of Creative Screenwriting Interviews

And here’s a similar quote from Darabont that I think I originally found in Zen and the Art Screenwriting (Vol. 2) by William Froug:

“For me, it was a matter of years of trying to develop my writing in the same way that some people spend years learning to play the violin.”
Writer/director Frank Darabont (Co-creator of The Walking Dead)

Related posts:

Frank Darabont and ‘The Woman in the Room’
The Shawshank Redemption Payoff of $1 to #1
‘Television Used to Suck’—Frank Darabont
Descriptive Writing (Frank Darabont)
It’s a Wonderful Prison

Scott W. Smith

If you haven’t seen the documentary Searching for Sugar Man yet check it out on Netflix this weekend. The 2012 film won the Oscar and the BAFTA for Best Documentary, and the Sundance Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary.  Among winning many other awards the film’s writer/director/editor Malik Bendjelloul also won Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary from the DGA.

For whatever reason, I missed it when it first came out and had the benefit of not knowing (or remembering) the backstory on the film. It made for a great movie-watching experience. So if you haven’t seen it, don’t even watch the trailer below or read anything else about it—just experience it.

Scott W. Smith

. . . I’m quite sure that I never thought much about theme before getting roadblocked on [writing] The Stand. I suppose I thought such things were for Better Minds and Bigger Thinkers. I’m not sure I would have gotten to it as soon as I did, had I not been desperate to save my story. I was astounded at how really useful ‘thematic thinking’ turned out to be.”
Stephen King
On Writing, pages 206-207

P.S. The one warning King states in his book is “[S]tarting with the questions and thematic concerns is a recipe for bad fiction. Good fiction always begins with story and progresses to theme.”  Just one more view on the concept of writing (or re-writing) with a theme in mind. One of the reasons I love touching on theme on this blog is because there are so many differing views on the subject. It ranges from writers who do start with theme, to writers who say theme is never a consideration when they’re writing.

BTW—Speaking of Stephen King, look what A Quiet Place screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are working on now…

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 5.16.00 PM

Related posts:
Screenwriters Bryan Woods & Scott Beck on Theme
Ryan Coogler on the Theme of ‘Black Panther’
David Mamet vs. Aaron Sorkin/Judd Apatow/Martin Scorsese on Theme
Writing from Theme 
More Thoughts on Theme
Michael Arndt on Theme
Diablo Cody on Theme
Scott Frank on Theme
Sidney Lumet on Theme

Scott W. Smith

John Carpenter had only shot and scored two semi-obscure features when the executive producer Irwin Yablans came to him with a proposal: make a low-budget movie about babysitters being murdered. ‘It was a horrible idea,’ Mr. Carpenter said in a recent telephone interview. “But I wanted to make more movies, so I said, ‘Great!’ . . . My job, plain and simple, was to scare the audience. It didn’t need to be anything more than that. The movie was a thrill ride.”
‘Halloween’ at 40 by Bruce Fretts/NY Times

That little $300,000 film that John Carpenter wrote and directed was released in 1978 and is still being talked about today.

And one of the people talking about it is the Jamie Lee Curtis; “It’s the greatest experience I’ve ever had professionally. It gave me everything in my creative life.” And that includes a chance to star in the latest version of Halloween. 

Scott W. Smith

It was a Muncy Mash

“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of American had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game and do it by watching first some high-school or small town teams.”
French-born American historian Jacques Barzun

It was a Muncy mash that ended the longest game in World Series history early this morning.  The drama of the baseball game climaxed when Max Muncy hit a solo home run in the 18th inning to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Everyone has a story.

Muncy played college ball at Baylor and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2012. He played his first professional game in Iowa with the Burlington Bees. He kicked around a few years with minor league teams in Stockton, Midland, Nashville on his way to making it to the big leagues in Oakland in 2015. But after an unspectacular start, he was released from the team after the 2017 spring training.

He was now 26 and unemployed. He went back to his hometown in Keller, Texas where his dad helped him take batting practice at his old high school. He was hoping to get a call from another team, but he was also thinking it might be time to go back to school and finish his business degree.

Dark night of the soul stuff that makes the reversal so rewarding at the end of the story.

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, a whirlwind of talks, not knowing if I was ever going to play baseball again. Was a team going to give me a chance? Was I ever going to make it back to the major leagues?”
Max Muncy
How Max Muncy Rose from  .195-Hitting Castoff to MLB’s Hottest Slugger

Then he got the call. The Dodgers signed him in April of 2017 and he had a solid year playing for their minor league team in Oklahoma City. A year later they called him up to play in Los Angeles and here he is six months later—World Series hero.

It’s a real-life Field of Dreams/The Natural-type story. I was glad I stayed up past until 3:30 am (EST) to watch the drama unfold. First baseball game I’ve watched all year. Might be a decade before I see one as good.

P.S. If you’re into baseball stories and good writing, check out the Dan Barry book Bottom of the 33rd; Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game.  The booked centers around a game between the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox in the International League that was actually played over three days in 1981.  There were 1,740 in attendance in Pawtucket, Rhode Island when the game started on April 18th and just 19 when the game was postponed in the 32nd inning at 4:07 am (on April 19th). They finished the game on June 23 (the 33rd inning) making the total length of the game 8 hours and 25 minutes.

Related posts:
The Night Baseball Got Born Again
Burns, Baseball, and Character Flaws
George Springer MVP
‘Moneyball’ & Coach Ferrell
Screenwriting, Baseball & Underdogs

Scott W. Smith

 

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