Archive for the ‘Writing Quotes’ Category

While I haven’t read the novel Daisy Jones & The Six, the 10 part TV series on Amazon is the only show I’ve completed watching this year. I’ll watch anything having to do with the 1970s LA music scene. I’ll write more about the show later and how it appeared to at least pay homage to the storied past of the band Fleetwood Mac and the messy process of creating their 1977 classic album Rumors. (Similar to what Cameron Crowe did in Almost Famous with a nod to another ’70s band, the Eagles.)

But I was curious about writing process of screenwriter and novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid and found this nugget:

When I’m working on my books, I’m very regimented. I start with my idea, and I know how the story begins and the story ends, but what’s in the middle I don’t know. So for my first drafts, which can take anywhere from four weeks to eight weeks, I write a certain amount of words per day and that’s what I have to get done. So if that takes me four hours and I happen to have a few hours free in the afternoon, then good for me. I’ll try to catch up on books that I’m blurbing or something like that. But, most of the time, it takes me a full day. Every single day I’m waking up and I don’t know what’s happening in the story, and I’m sitting down and I’m figuring it out, Monday through Friday, 8 to 6.
—Taylor Jenkins Reid
USA TODAY interview with Susannah Hutcheson

And before she was able to get that 8-6 writing gig, she had a lot of career “zigs and zags.” After graduating from Emerson College in Boston she worked as a casting assistant for three years in Los Angeles, worked a desk job for a few years, started writing in her spare time, and worked in a high school before selling her first book.

She’s been writing full time since 2012, and like so many good writers seems to have a gift for drawing on real people and legendary events as inspiration to fuel her imagination.

“There’s this podcast called You Must Remember This by Karina Longworth, and I listened to that podcast so much before and as I was writing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, because it’s all about scandals and events from classic Hollywood. I listened to it so much as research and I’m still listening to it now.”
—Taylor Jenkins Reid

Related post: Screenwriting from Massachusetts

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Last week, I dug up some CDs of novelist Stephen King’s reading of his book On Writing and came across this nugget:

“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored. I lean more heavily on intuition, and have been able to do that because my books tend to be based on situation rather than story . . . . I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one) in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work free. My job is not to  manipulate them to safety—those are jobs which require the noisy jackhammer of plot—but to watch what happens and then write it down. The situation comes first. The characters—always flat and unfeatured, to begin with—come next.”
Stephen King
On Writing, A Memory of Craft (2000 version), page 164

Related posts:
Stephen King on Theme
The job of the writer is . . .’  (Stephen King)
Descriptive Writing (Stephen King) 
Stephen King’s Doublewide Trailer 

Scott W. Smith 

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“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
Jack Kerouac
Some of the Dharma

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Writing Quote #67 (John Updike)

To the young writers, I would merely say try to develop actual work habits, and even though you have a busy life, try to reserve an hour — or more — a day to write.  Some very good things have been written on an hour a day. Henry Greene was an industrialist actually. He was running a company, and he would come home and write for just an hour in an armchair, and wonderful books were created in this way. So, take it seriously, you know, just set a quota.”
Novelist John Updike, Two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction
Academy of Acheivment

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Writing Quote #66 (Frank Darabont)

“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 (The Shawshank Redemption)

Note: I pulled this quote from my 2008 post Screenwriter’s Work Ethic. I think it might have originally been from the book Zen and the Art of Screenwriting (Vol. 2) by William Froug. In my nine years of writing this blog that the team of consistently developing their talents is one of the most common traits for screenwriters that produce the best work.

Related posts:
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously) — John Logan
How to Be a Successful Screenwriter —Michael Arndt


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Writing Quote #65 (Willa Cather)

“Of course Nebraska is a storehouse for literary material. Everywhere is a storehouse of literary material. If a true artist were born in a pigpen and raised in a sty, he would still find plenty of inspiration for work. The only need is the eye to see.”
Willa Cather
My Antonia

P.S. I pulled this quote from my 2008 post Screenwriting from Nebraska. 

Related posts:
“Wake Up and Pay Attention”—Alexander Payne (Nebraska native)
‘My Nebraska’
The Nebraska Mafia in L.A. 

Scott W. Smith

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Once upon a time I started a little blog called Screenwriting from Iowa. It was meant to be a one year experiment—but here I am nine years later. My original goal was to gather some notes together and eventually organize them into a 50,000 word book.

More on the book and the direction of this blog later this month, but this year will be heavy on revisiting some of the over 2,000 blog posts I written. Sometime they will be the full post slightly updated, and other times it will be just a quoted pulled from a longer post that deserves to stand on it’s own.

Today’s quote is pulled from the 1510 word post Can Screenwriting Be Taught (2.0): 

“I felt the years go by without accomplishment. Occasionally I wrote a short story that no one bought. I called myself a writer though I had no true subject matter. Yet from time to time I sat at a table and wrote, although it took years for my work to impress me.”
Bernard Malamud (The Natural and Pulitzer Prize winner The Fixer)

Note: Malamud was born in 1914 and didn’t have his first novel published until 1952. That novel finally made its way to the big screen in 1984 with Robert Redford starring as The Natural.  The screenplay was written by Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry. The film was directed by Barry Levinson between directing Diner and Rain Man (for which Levsinson won his sole Oscar)—three personal favorite films of mine.

Scott W. Smith

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Writing Quote #63 (Anne Rice)

“I write about outsiders seeking redemption in one form or another and always will.”
Novelist Anne Rice  (The Vampire Chronicles)
2016 Billboard interview with Alice Cooper

Related posts:
Hope & Redemption
Storytelling Soul Game
Fear, Pity, Catharsis (Tip #69)
Broken Wings & Silver Lining
‘The Verdict’ Revisited

Scott W. Smith

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Writing Quote #62 (Mamet)

“All plays are about lies. A misimagined or misdescribed situation is presented to the hero, and he must either uncover the lie that engendered it (Hamlet) or strive to create those lies he thinks will extract him from the situation (All My Sons). When the lie is revealed, the play is over.”
David Mamet
Theatre, page 61

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Writing Quote #61 (Cheever/Stegner)

“The novelist and short story writer John Cheever, when asked why he wrote did not say, ‘To show the upper middle class lives of Connecticut.’ He said, ‘To make sense out of my life.”
Wallace Stegner
On Teaching and Writing Fiction

P.S. Both Wallace Stegner and John Cheever had connections to Iowa. Stegner (who won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1972) was born in Lake Mills, Iowa and received his Master’s and Ph.D at the University of Iowa. He went on to start the writing program at Stanford University where his students (which he did not claim credit for) included Wendell Berry, Ken Kesey, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. Cheever, who won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction,  spent a semester teaching (and drinking with Raymond Carver) at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Scott W. Smith

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