Advice for Writers

tom-rickman-quote-screenwriting-academy-award-winner


What is your best advice for writers?
Write everyday. Get lost in your imagination. Live life. Experience it. Write about it. The more experiences you have, the more lessons you learn, the more you observe, reflect, and listen, the greater wisdom and knowledge you will gain as a person. With all of this, you will have a greater breath of knowledge as a writer.

What are your Top 10 Tips for Writers?

  1. Fall in love with your story. Don’t fall in love with your words or what is on the paper. Be open to the possibility that a stronger choice may exist to tell your story in the best way possible
  2. Write everyday — even if it’s for ten minutes
  3. Get lost in your imagination
  4. Everything in life is material — Nora Ephron’s sage advice
  5. Live life. You need fresh experiences to understand life and write about them with authenticity
  6. Compare yourself only to yourself. Look at your growth as a writer, how far you’ve come and where you are now
  7. Believe in yourself. You must be the first and biggest champion of your own work
  8. While you write, listen to music that inspires you
  9. You are the only person who can stop you from your dreams
  10. Envision your finished novel or script before you’ve started it

What are the Top 5 Tips about Character? 

  1. All the supporting characters serve your main character on her/his journey
  2. Have your main character start off every chapter / scene with one emotion and have that character’s emotion turn into a greater or lesser emotion by the end of that chapter / scene
  3. Give your character the biggest emotional arc to overcome by the end of the book
  4. What is the worst choice you can make for your character to overcome? Do it! (Sage advice from Tom Rickman)
  5. Know your characters before you start writing. Write several pages on your character’s descriptions, answering personal questions that deal with your character’s age, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, greatest shame, greatest love, favorite quote, favorite saying, biggest love, biggest worry, largest concern and who the character admires. Think of it as you would an online dating dating profile. How would you answer all the big defining details that make up your character?

What are the Top 5 Tips about Structure? 

  1. Structure serves the story
  2. Do not fall in love with your plot points or structure. Allow yourself to make stronger structural choices if an opportunity presents itself
  3. Chose your structure based upon what will give you the greatest emotional impact on the character and her/his journey
  4. Write your plot points on note cards and create a 9 Beat Structure Outline before you start writing a first draft
  5. Everything serves the story. If you make your characters serve the structure then your characters will not appear authentic and you will lose the audience

Is going to school for writing worth it?

Everyone has a different path. For me, getting a degree in writing was essential. I was at a place in my writing where I was unable to go any further without direction and guidance from professional writers. I’d read a lot of books. Some of them were good; others contradicted what I’d read. I needed to get the basics and figure out what worked for me. The ability to get a degree in writing gave me the time, experience and exposure to the knowledge I was seeking.
Would you get a degree in writing again?
Absolutely.

Why did you choose to self-publish? 

I’d sent out several letters to publishers and got rejected. In the meantime, I kept reading about writers who had 70-80 rejections before getting accepted by a publishing house. I wanted to spend my time writing, not sending out queries. My cousin, an editor for a magazine, recommended that I self-publish, telling me that she knew of a couple people who were successful doing that. It was a quicker way to publish and maintain control of your art. A lot of artists (musicians, actors, directors and writers) are moving in that direction. I liked that idea.

What is the bottom line in writing?

The bottom line is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. When you write, what matters in the end is great story telling. Learn to be a captivating story teller.