George’s August Newsletter

Hello Writing Friends

As I mentioned in my July missive the sole intent of these newsletters is to share some things I’ve learned along the way and to encourage you all to share as well.

You all know this, but it bears repeating. It takes courage to write. Here is a quote I keep near my computer monitor. It is from Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, duc de Richlieu (just Cardinal Richlieu to his pals) “Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men and I will find an excuse to hang him.”

Like many of you, I am a huge fan of Disney’s Pixar movies (hard to believe that the first one, Toy Story, was released in 1995 – over a quarter-century ago!)

Why have they been so successful? We all see and enjoy the animation, but at the heart of each movie is the story.

That is why I was so happy when a screenwriter friend of mine shared the Pixar storytelling secrets with me. As a writer, reading them was an “ah ha” moment.

See for yourself:

As to sharing best practices, perhaps more than any other writers that I know, and as I shared last month, I make a near-religion of reading books about writing. Recently, I reread E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel. Like you, I have many friends and acquaintances who approach me at Starbucks, in the grocery checkout line or elsewhere and say: “I want to write a novel.”

The first thing I ask them, borrowing from Forster’s book, is what kind of novel is it?:

  • You are writing a story if your high concept is: “The king died and then the queen died.”
  • You have a plot if your high concept is: “The king died and then the queen died of grief.”
  • You have a mystery if your high concept is: “The queen died, and no one knew why, until it was discovered that it was through grief at the death of the king.”

As writers, this sounds so simple, and it is, but as you provide advice to beginning and emerging writers you might help them bound the problem by having them decide what kind of novel they want to write.

Finally, whenever I find an article online or in print that I find useful in upping my writing game, I have the “need to share” that afflicts most humans. I put these articles on my website:  If you go to the site you’ll see “Blog” at the top and the pull down menu takes you to “Writing Tips.” Perhaps you’ll find some of these useful.

That’s it for now. As always, I’d love to hear about your latest writing project(s).

All the best – George