Archive for the ‘Writing Quotes’ Category

“To write well, I advise people to read widely. See how people who are successful and good get their results, but don’t copy them. And then you’ve got to write! We learn to write by writing, not by just facing an empty page and dreaming of the wonderful success we are going to have. I don’t think it matters much what you use as practice, it might be a short story, it might be the beginning of a novel, or it might just be something for the local magazine, but you must write and try and improve your writing all the time. Don’t think about it or talk about it, get the words down.”
Novelist PD James (1920-2014)
BBC News

P.S. Several movies and TV shows were based on James’ writings including Children of Men (2006). A movie that includes the intense scene below that also took a major technological feat to pull off. Shot by two time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman, Gravity), who received an Oscar-nomination this year for shooting The Revenant.

Scott W. Smith

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Writing Quote #53 (Ray Bradbury)

Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) is yet another writer who had that Midwest/Hollywood thing going on. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, and raised on comic books, carnivals, and Edgar Allen Poe, he graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938. (And for what it’s worth, he did not attend college.)

When he died in 2012 at the age of 91 he had been a best-selling author, co-wrote the Moby Dick (1956) screenplay with John Huston, and was a Daytime Emmy-winner (The Halloween Tree). He published over 50 books and his IMDB credits span over 70 years.

“If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health.

How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
Ray Bradbury
Zen in the Art of Writing
Chapter on The Joy of Writing, pages 4&5) 

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My St. Patrick’s Day Special on the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Eugene O’Neill (1888-1952) :

“I spent a year in Professor Baker’s famous class at Harvard. There, too, I learned some things that were useful to me—particularly what not to do. Not to take ten lines, for instance, to say something that can be said in one line.”
Eugene O’Neill
The American Magazine
November, 1922, page 32

And also from that article:

“And here is an interesting fact: O’Neill has a regular habit of work. The craving for freedom, for the indulgence of his own desires, which controlled him in his early manhood, is subordinated now to the good of his work. He, who used to be a rebel against routine, voluntarily follows a routine now, in this one direction. Like the rest if us, he has found that he must follow a regular habit of work if he is to accomplish anything.”
Mary B. Mullett
The Extraordinary Story Of Eugene O’Neill

P.S. The professor that Eugene O’Neill referenced was George Pierce Baker with whom O’Neill began studying under in the fall of 1914. O’Neill said of Baker,  “The plays I wrote for him were rotten… Yes, I did get a great deal from Baker–personally. He encouraged me–made me feel it was worth while going ahead.”

Scott W. Smith

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“There are a million talented writers who are unpublished only because they stop writing when it gets hard.”
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
More magazine October 2014

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“There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three — storyteller, teacher, enchanter — but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer.
Russian American Novelist Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
From Brain Picking article by Maria Popova

P.S. In the athletic world some unusually talented people have what’s known as an extra gear. (Probably true of any field, but I remember back in the day watching Deion Sanders returning punts and it’s easier to see that extra gear kick in when it happens in real time on national television. For Nabokov that extra gear for the writer is being the enchanter. Do you think Vladimir Nabokov and Deion Sanders have ever been mentioned in the same article ever before? By the way, I’ve worked with Deion and he’s not only a  Pro Football Hall-of-Famer but also a storyteller, teacher and enchanter.

Related post: Postcard #28 (Prime Time) 

Scott W. Smith



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Rebecca Lenkiewicz started out acting but in 2000 wrote a play that was performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2004 her play The Night Season was staged at the Royal National Theater and she was awarded the Critics’ Circle Theatre for the Most Promising Playwright.  For the past decade she’s written playscripts for BBC Radio, adapted Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, and wrote the play Her Naked Skin. More people are now getting familar with her work because she’s the co-sceeenwriter of Ida.

“I’m interested in the frailty of people, trying to connect with each other or with something in the world.”
Screenwriter/playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz
The Guardian article by Maddy Costa

I found an interview where Lenkiewicz’s three favorite plays are King Lear, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Seagull.  And her favorite films; Les Enfants du Paradis, Carlito’s Way, Cabaret and Betty Blue.

P.S. And I don’t know if she’s still doing it, but I found a Faber Academy link online where Lenkiewicz taught a course in the UK called Write A Play in Tree Months. If anybody in London has notes or an outline from taking that class I’d love to see them.  The Faber Academy does have some podcasts on itunes and a You Tube Channel.

Scott W. Smith

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Writing Quote #49 (Maya Angelou)

“There’s a statement by [the Roman dramatist] Terence: ‘I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.’ If you know that, accept that, then you can tell a story. You can make people believe characters are just like they are. Jack and Jill went up the hill, one fell down and the other came tumbling after. The listener thinks, ‘Oh, I’ve fallen down, so I can understand,’ even if it happened in Holland or Kowloon. Human beings should understand how other humans feel no matter where they are, no matter what their language or culture is, no matter their age, and no matter the age in which they live. If you develop the art of seeing us as more alike than we are unalike, then all stories are understandable.”
Author Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
2013 Harvard Business Review interview by Alison Beard

P.S. Maybe I should write a post called Screenwriting from Kowloon.

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