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Writing advice that sucks

Bad advice for writers is everywhere, but this article by Jason Hellerman sums it up – or should we say “pins it down?” – perfectly.

5 Instances of Terrible Writing Advice [w/Lessons from Each]
by Jason Hellerman

Tell me if this rings a bell, you’re attending a screenwriting seminar, listening to a lecture, or getting notes from someone, and they lean in and tell you they have a piece of advice. After hearing it, you shake your head. You feel a little worse off than you started, and you’re not sure what to do next.

Terrible writing advice is all around us. Bad writing advice comes from many sources. We hear it in blogs, podcasts, and all over Social Media.

Today I want to go over the 5 biggest pieces of terrible screenwriting advice I’ve heard, debunk each of them, and give you the proper lessons to take away from each of them.

Ready? Let’s go…

Terrible Writing Advice Tip #1: Write What You Know

I know I have told this to someone. So right off the bat, let’s start with the advice I am guilty of handing out. When I tell someone I think they should “write what they know” chances are I’m searching for a personal connection that I just don’t find in their pages.

Akin to that, they might have an under-researched idea that makes reading their pages a slog or hard. When I was an assistant I got to work closely with Michael Werwie, who wrote Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile.

Michael was so much fun to learn from because he epitomized the best part of “write what you know” – a screenwriter who is confident and knowledgeable about the subject she’s tackled. Michael was not a serial killer (I hope) but he was an expert on Ted Bundy. So he was able to write Ted with authenticity and breathe new life into a case most Americans thought they knew and understood.

When we gave Michael story notes, he was able to hear them and craft them in a way that aligned with the facts….

Read it all at nofilmschool.com

Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge: Roles and the Writing Process

Time now for a solidly thoughtful and genuinely helpful article about something we all need help with from time to time – how to overcome all the usual articles and not only start writing something you love but keep going all the way to the finish.

Oh, and it’s also solidly and so darn civilly written that alone has made us smile since we first saw it. Our thanks to Betty Flowers, former Director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and to Michelle Gordon, who first brought this to our attention.

by Betty S. Flowers

“What’s the hardest part of writing?” I ask on the first day of class.

“Getting started,” someone offers, groaning.

“No, it’s not getting started,” a voice in the back of the room corrects. “It’s keeping on once you do get started. I can always write a sentence or two-but then I get stuck.”

“Why?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I am writing along, and all of a sudden I realize how awful it is, and I tear it up. Then I start over again, and after two sentences, the same thing happens.”

“Let me suggest something which might help,” I say. Turning to the board, I write four words: “madman,” “architect,” “carpenter,” “judge.”

Then I explain:

“What happens when you get stuck is that two competing energies are locked horn to horn, pushing against each other. One is the energy of what I’ll call your ‘madman.’ He is full of ideas, writes crazily and perhaps rather sloppily, gets carried away by enthusiasm or anger, and if really let loose, could turn out ten pages an hour.

“The second is a kind of critical energy-what I’ll call the ‘judge.’ He’s been educated and knows a sentence fragment when he sees one. He peers over your shoulder and says, ‘That’s trash!’ with such authority that the madman loses his crazy confidence and shrivels up. You know the judge is right-after all, he speaks with the voice of your most imperious English teacher. But for all his sharpness of eye, he can’t create anything.

“So you’re stuck. Every time your madman starts to write, your judge pounces on him….

Read it all at ut-ie.com

 

 

Dan Harmon’s Writing Advice

Over the years, TVWriter™ has written or reprinted a ton of posts and articles on Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty). Last year he lowered his profile a bit, but by no means have we exhausted the vault of Dan Harmon Speaks To Writers About So Many Things We Otherwise Might Never Know.

In fact, here’s a previously unknown (to this TVWriter™ minion) gem, found on YouTube…cuz where else would Dan Harmon be?

From moondyne’s YouTube channel

What’s It Like to Write for ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers?

At last, a video about writing, by writers, genuinely lives up to its promise to take us behind the scenes. Now that this TVWriter™ minion has watched this long but potent lesson, I might even start watching the show.

Um, it’s still on the air, right? Huh? Is it?

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