Truth and Melodrama and Phil Spector

From Medium:

We know any drama ends when we find the answer to the question which gave rise to it. When we discover the answer simultaneously with the hero, the dramatist has done a very good job indeed.

An example is CASABLANCA. Here, the hero, Bogart, is in exile trying to get over what he understands as the betrayal by his one true love. She (Ingrid Bergman) shows up, and he endeavors to get revenge (he denies her and her husband the Letters of Transit). In Act Three he finds she didnot desert him in Paris, that her husband, who she had thought dead, had escaped from a concentration camp, and that she’d found it her duty to care for him. Now Bogart finds she is still in love with him, Bogart, and they scheme to escape from Casablanca and live happily ever after.

BUT. At the last moment, confronted by the Bad Nazis at the airport, Bogart gives the Letters of Transit, with which he and Bergman were going to escape, to her and her husband, and goes off into the mist with Claude Rains to fight Nazis.

This is damned good writing. A man thinks he’s getting over a problem, the problem reasserts itself (Bergman shows up), he tries to deal with it through revenge and then through fantasy (they can pick up where they left off), but finds these do not answer the question. The question is, “How does one deal with Betrayal?” He has tried distance, rage, and alcohol, and they do not work. The true solution, he finds, is, “DO NOT BETRAY OTHERS.” The answer, then, is found because the hero reformulates the question. It used to be, “What do I do about Ingrid Bergman?” but the deeper question, which alone has an answer, is, “WHAT KIND OF MAN AM I?”

Read the whole thing at the link.

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Voices From Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death

From SOLITARY WATCH, via Thought Catalog:

The following essay is by William Blake, who has been held in solitary confinement for nearly 26 years. Currently he is in administrative segregation at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum security facility located in south central New York State. In 1987, Blake, then 23 and in county court on a drug charge, murdered one deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt. Sentenced to 77 years to life, Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers “a sentence worse than death.”

Read it at the link.


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10 Laws of Productivity

Found at 99U:

You might think that creatives as diverse as Internet entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, industrial design firm Studio 7.5, and bestselling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami would have little in common. In fact, the tenets that guide how they – and exceptionally productive creatives across the board – make ideas happen are incredibly similar.

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The Business of Literature

An essay by Robert Nash from The Virginia Quarterly Review:

As technology disrupts the business model of traditional publishers, the industry must imagine new ways of capturing the value of a book.

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Endless Rewriting

From The American Scholar:

When a novice writer received a letter from Jacques Barzun, asking her to write a book, how could she have know what she was in for?



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The Philosophy of Style: Herbert Spencer on the Economy of Attention and the Ideal Writer (1852)

From brain pickings:

Today’s abundance of advice on the art and craft of writing makes the phenomenon appear a modern meta-trope of the written word. And yet it is anything but new. In his 1852 treatise The Philosophy of Style (public librarypublic domain), Victorian-era philosopher, scientist, and liberal political theorist Herbert Spencer sets out to create a structural framework for good composition, guided by the emergent groundswell of formalist writing. Only 32 years old at the time, he defines language as “an apparatus of symbols for the conveyance of thought” and proceeds to map out its essential machinery.

And note these added links:

Complement The Philosophy of Style with Stephen King’militant case against adverbsH. P. Lovecraft’advice to aspiring writersF. Scott Fitzgerald’sletter to his daughterZadie Smith’10 rules of writingKurt Vonnegut’8 keys to the power of the written wordDavid Ogilvy’10 no-bullshit tips,Henry Miller’11 commandmentsJack Kerouac’30 beliefs and techniques,John Steinbeck’6 pointersNeil Gaiman’8 rulesMargaret Atwood’10 practical tips, and Susan Sontag’synthesized learnings.

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What makes a great screenplay?

From The Guardian:

From Casablanca to The Killing – the elements of a great script are essentially the same. John Yorke – who is responsible for some of the most popular recent British TV dramas – reveals how and why the best screenwriting works.

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A Casket Cartel and the Louisiana Way of Death

From The Wall Street Journal:

Benedictine monks decided to sell the simple wooden caskets they’d always made. Then things got complicated.

Because of “economic regulations simply to protect politically connected special interests from competition.” The case could go to the Supreme Court.

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5 Common Mistakes that Will KILL Your Novel

Commentary on antagonists from Kristen Lamb’s Blog ( Hat tip: Mary Walewski)

Here are five main problems that I regularly see in new writing, regarding the antagonist(s).

Read them at the link.

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