O=Oedipus The King (and Structure)(Feb 16)

Sophocles wrote Oedipus the King in 430 B.C. Aristotle cited it as being in many ways the perfect model of a tragedy. The play unfolds with great power as the hero’s flaw exposes his fate, even though his motive is pure: to save his city from a rampant disease. At the same time, the playContinue reading “O=Oedipus The King (and Structure)(Feb 16)”

N=No Second Cousins (Feb 15)

Sometimes you can’t find the right word and it would make all the difference. It’s like having the wrong size battery in your flashlight: what doesn’t fit will not illuminate. Mark Twain, in the midst of an essay deploring the stories of James Fenimore Cooper, offered a series of rules for writing that include: “UseContinue reading “N=No Second Cousins (Feb 15)”

M=McKee on Screenwriting (Feb 14)

The most famous thing a screenwriter ever said about Hollywood came from William Goldman: “Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one …” Often this is reduced to “Nobody knowsContinue reading “M=McKee on Screenwriting (Feb 14)”

K=Know When It’s Over (Feb 12)

Now let’s go from that very spark to the very end. No idea is ever “done”.  Art is never finished.  Instead, you just stop working on it.  This is a paraphrase of many famous artists (for one, it is said that George Lucas said this when deciding when to walk away from Star Wars).  InContinue reading “K=Know When It’s Over (Feb 12)”

I=It Has to Flow (Feb 10)

‘Flow’ is when “every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one.” This description by psychology researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gets at a mental state where everything can be followed with ease.   This whole series on writing is, in one way or another, about flow. In the GARNER lesson, we looked how sentences flowContinue reading “I=It Has to Flow (Feb 10)”

H=How to Write a Press Release (Feb 9)

There are two ways to write a press release: flattering or factual. Which way you go depends on whom you consider to be your client. This illustrates the principle that no matter what sort of writing you are doing, consider it from the audience’s point of view. Typically a press release is written internally orContinue reading “H=How to Write a Press Release (Feb 9)”

G=Garner, Madison, and the Art of Writing (Feb 8)

In document #39 of The Federalist Papers, James Madison stated that communication fails for three reasons: (1) the language is inaccurate, (2) the brain behind the language is cloudy, or (3) the object or idea itself is indistinct. There are marketers and PR people for the last; there are meditations and substances for the second. Continue reading “G=Garner, Madison, and the Art of Writing (Feb 8)”