On Writing…

“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

– Stephen King.

“When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

– Buckminster Fuller.

Flawed and false storytelling is forced to substitute spectacle for substance, trickery for truth. Weak stories, desperate to hold audience attention, degenerate into multimillion-dollar razzle-dazzle demo reels. In Hollywood imagery becomes more and more extravagant, in Europe more and more decorative. The behavior of actors becomes more and more histrionic, more and more lewd, more and more violent. Music and sound effects become increasingly tumultuous. The total effect transudes into the grotesque. A culture can not evolve without honest, powerful storytelling. When society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates. We need true satires and tragedies, dramas and comedies that shine a clean light into the dingy corners of the human psyche and society.

– Robert McKee.

The playwright, Arthur Miller, has suggested that, essentially, drama is always about a fear of falling – the primal fear. Certainly, the first story in Western culture is a dramatisation of this fundamental fact of existence – the so-called Fall of Man. But what is the essence of the Fall? What brings it about, and what does it tell us about the nature of human and non-human reality? What does it tell us about HOW we should live our lives, and why and for what? Any story that prompts us to ask these sorts of questions is a story worthy of our attention.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“We don’t know the story we are trying to tell. If we did, we wouldn’t need to tell it.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Love is the ability of not knowing.”

– John Cassavettes.

“To be is to be anxious. To be creative is to endure the anxiousness – to use it, shape it, transform it, into something that transcends anxiety.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“An appreciation of the inspiration and obsessiveness of storytellers who have gone before can help break down the sense of isolation. Those who have gone before have drawn from the same pool you will draw from, and those who come after will do the same. We are family. We are part of a tradition, whether we know it or not. There is courage to be found in this understanding…”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Know what it is you do not know.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.”

– Erica Jong.

“A script is a reply to the unseen, the unheard, that gnaws in the darkness of ignorance. An artist is a person who cannot ignore the gnawing, must address it, deal with it, play it out.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Research, research, research – not for the sake of gathering information but as a way of freeing yourself from it, as a way of building confidence, so necessary in the quest to find the story that wants to be told.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Good writers care about what they are doing, enough to seek out the meaning behind the meaning… the heart behind the intellect…”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“The world’s greatest storytellers tell the same stories over and over again.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“What is your story? What is your obstacle? What is it you can’t get over?”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Become familiar with the nuances of your own voice, and you will begin to discover the other voices that live within you.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Talk about your characters and their stories as if you know them. Gossip, embellish, fabricate. Don’t simply write them down. Live them, breathe them, dream them. Eat them.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Embrace genuine criticism. Cultivate a readiness to listen to and receive the reactions of others.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“A well-told story has rhythm. Where there is a problem with the rhythm you can bet there will be a problem with the character and/or the story.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Though a character might be constructed of endless traits and habits, he/she won’t be a successful dramatic character unless we are able to witness how he/she behaves when something is at risk.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“The art of dramatic writing is a time-art.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Story development is story structure, and story structure is really about character navigation, and how time is managed.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“A writer makes choices for his/her characters until they are able to choose for themselves; at which point it behooves the writer to let them do as they will and simply manage the time it takes them to do it.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Without the struggle for some recognizable human value, there can be no empathy or identification, and thus, no drama.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Re: collaboration – an unambiguous delineation of roles and expectations is beneficial in any creative endeavour. The clearer the roles and expectations, the more freedom there is for genuine interaction and authentic expression.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“Only the story can empower you. You cannot empower yourself. Nor can you humbly or otherwise bestow your power upon the story. You are not a dog; it is not a tree.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“It is the job of collaborators to find the story that is trying to get itself told, and then tell that story, even if it means forsaking your own identity. Who are you anyway? I mean, really? The onset of creative thinking/feeling is signalled by the arrival of problems. Working to solve these problems produces a sense of intimacy with the characters, who also have problems.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“The business of telling a story is working out the problems that are caused by wanting to tell it. You cannot solve all the problems and then proceded to tell it; the problems are the story you are trying to tell. The more you seek an intimate relationship with your story and its characters, the more you flee from it and them. You do not choose your story. It chooses you.”

– Billy Marshall-Stoneking.

“When the storytelling goes bad in society, the result is decadence.”

– Aristotle.

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~ by revolutionwithin on July 5, 2009.

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