How to Write a Book Without Losing Your Mind: 10 Tips to Make it Easier

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“Writing a book is hard.”

In the last three years of working on Pivot — from the book proposal that my agent first rejected, to re-submitting one a year later, to the book deal with Penguin Random House in 2014, to turning in the final draft last month — that was the one phrase I wouldn’t let myself say.

Writing a book is a privilege, and complaining about how hard it was throughout would not make the process any easier.

Writing a book is complex, don’t get me wrong, but I adopted the motto, “Let it be easy, let it be fun” instead. Stress is a systems problem; an opportunity to get even more organized.

These 10 tools helped keep me sane throughout the book outlining, writing, and editing process.

1. Setup

Create three collection buckets (notes) in Evernote: Articles, stories, and ideas. As you go, even before you have the book outline, you can save relevant notes to each category.

I highly recommend the Evernote web clipper for saving content; you can also forward emails directly to your Evernote email address.

2. Outlining

I started my outline with Post-it Notes on the back of my front door. I first put a bunch of blank Post-its under the following categories: Inspiration books, core skills, process, personal stories, and quotes.

Every time I had an idea I would add it to the wall, or sometimes when I was taking a break from other work I would stand by the door and just stare until ideas came up — and they always did!

The Post-it app allows you to take pictures of Post-Its (or a whole wall), then move them around digitally in the app.

3. Research

Save all citations early as footnotes, including page numbers from the books you reference!

This will save a ton of hassle down the road. Even if you don’t know (or don’t want to take the time to do) proper citations, at least save the book and page numbers — or article name and link — as a footnote as you go.

Otherwise, it’s a huge pain to remember where you found everything. To make the research process easier, check-out Ask Wonder — they’ll do research for you with a quick turnaround and comprehensive list of links for any question you pose. 

4. Structure

Thanks to a tip from Shane Snow, author of Smartcuts, I created Google Drive folders for each of the book’s parts, then a Google doc for each chapter within each part.

At one point I had seperate Google docs just for essays that would go in each chapter, but it started to get unwieldy. It was helpful in the beginning, though, for feeling like I could write in manageable chunks.

5. Writing

With all the tools available, one of the most enjoyable apps to write in was OmmWriter: peaceful music, blank background, and those glorious typewriter sounds!

6. Editing

I didn’t do this nearly as much as I could have, but after I wrote an essay in OmmWriter, I would sometimes do a quick grammar check in Hemingway Editor, a super-helpful automatic text editor. You’ll have to try it out to see what I mean!

7. Curating

I sent out a Google form for written story submissions to include as anecdotes throughout the book

Once those responses were in, I combined all the results into a Google doc. From there, I printed the doc so I could highlight key quotes and mark potential chapters for where to insert them.

You can also use TypeForm for this, which is really beautiful and easy for the respondent to use.

8. Interviewing

I asked for permission up front to record interviews, letting people know I might release them for a podcast near the time of the book launch.

I’m so glad I did this! I record calls with Skype + eCam Call Recorder. For a conference-call service, I love Uber Conference (no dial-in passcodes, and it texts you when a person is waiting on the line).

9. Transcribing

CastingWords provides audio transcription at $1 per minute. For long interviews, I printed these notes and highlighted by hand.

When it was time to check the quotes for the final versions of the book, I copied and pasted their section into a Google doc with permissions set at “suggest edits only.”

10. Clearing space in your schedule

Copy and set-up this editorial calendar template.

This is the format I use to plan posts and newsletters. Tt’s particularly helpful if you have multiple contributors, sites or guest posts. It helps keep things running smoothly while working on a project as complex as a book!

You might also appreciate my systems and strategy for working with a virtual assistant: A detailed look at what to delegate, how to efficiently set up your systems, and what pitfalls to avoid as you clear up space to work on your big book project.

These are the tips and tools that helped me most. What’s your approach?

What bite-sized chunk of your book project can you commit to this week? Reply in the comments and let us know.

The post How to Write a Book Without Losing Your Mind: 10 Tips to Make it Easier appeared first on The Write Life.

     

Source: Writer Life

Charles Murray Set As Showrunner On Lee Daniels’ Fox Series ‘Star’ As Part Of Overall Deal With 20th Century Fox TV

Sons of Anarchy alum Charles Murray has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, whose cable division Fox 21 TV Studios produced the gritty FX drama series. Under the pact, he will serve as executive producer and showrunner on Star, 20th TV’s upcoming drama created by Lee Daniels and Tom Donaghy, which was recently picked up to series by Fox for next season. Additionally, Murray will be developing his own projects for the studio.
Murray is coming off stints as…
Source: DeadLine

Charles Murray Set As Showrunner On Lee Daniels’ Fox Series ‘Star’ As Part Of Overall Deal With 20th Century Fox TV

Sons of Anarchy alum Charles Murray has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, whose cable division Fox 21 TV Studios produced the gritty FX drama series. Under the pact, he will serve as executive producer and showrunner on Star, 20th TV’s upcoming drama created by Lee Daniels and Tom Donaghy, which was recently picked up to series by Fox for next season. Additionally, Murray will be developing his own projects for the studio.
Murray is coming off stints as…
Source: DeadLine

Top Horror Movies that Go to Hell (Hell in Film Depictions)

Top Horror Movies that Go to Hell (Hell in Film Depictions)

The subject of Hell incorporated in horror films has always been an area of intrigue. While we can make assumptions about what this dreaded place might look or be like, the mere thought of a single location dedicated to evil and darkness has always been food for nightmares. There are films that lean towards the …

HNN | Horrornews.net – Official News Site


Source: Horror News

Top Horror Movies that Go to Hell (Hell in Film Depictions)

Top Horror Movies that Go to Hell (Hell in Film Depictions)

The subject of Hell incorporated in horror films has always been an area of intrigue. While we can make assumptions about what this dreaded place might look or be like, the mere thought of a single location dedicated to evil and darkness has always been food for nightmares. There are films that lean towards the …

HNN | Horrornews.net – Official News Site


Source: Horror News

Video Madness: Three Stooges – The Ghost Talks

Video Madness: Three Stooges – The Ghost Talks

This is The Three Stooges at their best as Larry, Mo, and Shemp offer up plenty of laughs and scares in this episode titled “The Ghost Talks”. This immediately brings me back to when I was a kid and watching these old Stooges shorts. The scary one’s were always my favorite. Here we see some …

HNN | Horrornews.net – Official News Site


Source: Horror News

Video Madness: Three Stooges – The Ghost Talks

Video Madness: Three Stooges – The Ghost Talks

This is The Three Stooges at their best as Larry, Mo, and Shemp offer up plenty of laughs and scares in this episode titled “The Ghost Talks”. This immediately brings me back to when I was a kid and watching these old Stooges shorts. The scary one’s were always my favorite. Here we see some …

HNN | Horrornews.net – Official News Site


Source: Horror News

Recapping the 2016 Toronto Screenwriting Conference

Last weekend, thousands of writers – from amateur to professional – converged on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the annual Toronto Screenwriting Conference (TSC). And who can blame them given the con’s penchant for attracting the best in the biz, from David Goyer and Michael Arndt, to long-time legends like David Webb Peoples? 2016 was no slouch either, with special guests Charles Randolph (The Big Short) and Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) rounding out an impressive roster in a weekend fit-to-burst with screenwriting wisdom.

Any good con breaks down into two equally important halves: the panels, and the mingling. For the TSC, the latter has never been a problem. You’re unlikely to find a more substantial and varied collection of screenwriters gathered at any one place at any one time, anywhere in the world. From students and assistants, to working writers with meaty credits to their names, the conference has always been a great networking opportunity for aspiring screenwriters, which is a point not to be taken lightly especially in a vocation that calls for long stretches of sitting alone in a room amidst hearty doses of cosmic dread.

Of course, meeting people is only half the battle (with “not being terrible” of arguably equal importance). As in years past, the true value of the Toronto Screenwriting Conference lies in the variety of meaty panels and sessions that make up the brunt of the two-day event. As with any craft, good screenwriting requires mentorship through the passing of wisdom, techniques, tricks of the trade, and (in some cases) the rules of basic grammar. It’s here that the TSC delivers in spades as experts take to the stage to discuss all-things-narrative, from theme, structure, and characterization, to brainstorming, development, and (of particular interest) selling your stuff!

Day one began on a brooding and morally ambiguous note with Glen Mazzara delivering a fantastic talk on the history and continued relevancy of the antihero archetype. From ancient myth to The Sopranos, Mazarra’s panel deconstructed the bad guy with a heart of gold, and investigated the often-fine line separating an antihero from a more antagonistic force. The day was full of similarly fantastic stuff, including a writing room simulation led by Emily Andras (resulting in a crazy good spec episode for Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Jen Grisanti’s informative and aptly titled panel, “Writing A TV Pilot That Sells”, which dove into the elusive link between quality and that much dreaded buzzword: marketability. As you might expect, there wasn’t a seat to be had. 

Day two featured an equally stimulating collection of talks, including an interview with Nicole Clemens, the executive VP of development for FX. For fans of The Strain, The Americans, and Fargo (a.k.a, seemingly everyone), the discussion presented unique insight into the screenwriting process from the other side of the fence. Also on Sunday was “Non-linear Storytelling: Developing Story in Games”, which also happens to be this humble correspondent’s personal pick for best panel of the show. During the ninety-minute session, Kevin Shortt opened the Pandora’s box of crafting a narrative experience for interactive media. That’s right – video games need writers too, and as games continue to grow in complexity and storytelling prowess, many young writers will find that their most tangible opportunities come from this space. The catch? It’s a whole different ballpark when it comes to pitching and developing stories, not to mention the process of writing itself. Just think – how do one account for the notions of interactivity and player choice in your writing? How do you format a branching path, or account for a scene some gamers may not even experience? Kevin Shortt used his recent experience on Far Cry Primal to shed light on these and other challenges.

As is to be expected, the value of attending a conference depends on just how invested you are in its subject. For most of you, I imagine that investment level is pretty high (you’re reading The Script Lab, after all), so the conference is easy to recommend. The Toronto Screenwriting Conference is, above all, an educational opportunity – it’s a dense weekend geared towards professional development for industry folk (and those hopefuls looking to get their foot in the door), and while it carries a hefty price tag, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the experience to any of my screenwriter friends. It’s easy to forget amidst all the solitary confinement that there’s a social element to this business. In other words, it’s important to get out there and meet people, and what better opportunity than an event like this, wherein you might learn a thing or two (or ten) in the process?

Source: Script Lab

5 Characters to Kill in Your Story

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

There’s been a tremendous amount of discussion about killing characters this week, as HBO revealed whether a key character on Game of Thrones was actually dead or alive. The discussion had merit, as HBO, and especially Game of Thrones, has a habit of killing off significant characters in their narratives. Obviously, any conversation about killing key characters is going to be clothed in spoilers – so reader beware. Death, of course, is a universal experience in life. Everyone will die. However, knowing if, who, and when to kill characters in your story can be a high stakes game. Here are five character archetypes you might consider killing in your script.

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1. KILL THE MENTOR

One of the chief goals when creating a character in a story is to build empathy for him or her. Taking away someone they love is a powerful way of accomplishing this. Every person either has lost or will lose someone they love. We all know how it feels. It’s hard to dislike a character who goes through this experience. Of course, before we take away a mentor, we have to establish how much they mean to our protagonist. We have to take time in the story to demonstrate relationship. We often want to show our protagonist butting up against the advice or training of the mentor, before they see the wisdom that was taught. These things take time in a story.

Killing a mentor is usually not a good idea to consider unless you are at least half way through your story. You also don’t want to wait too late to kill the mentor. You must give your character time to respond to the mentor’s death and then to use the wisdom they offered. Mick, Rocky’s mentor, doesn’t die until the third installment of the series. Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda both die, but only after they have invested in Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga. Not all mentors fit the wise old sage trope. Royal Tenenbaum is practically the opposite of Obi Wan Kenobi, but still manages to teach his family lessons before his death at the end of the story.

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2. KILL THE PROTAGONIST

When we talk about killing a character in our stories, our minds immediately gravitate to the possibility of killing the protagonist. While this can be an effective strategy in storytelling, it’s not one without risks. Killing the main character takes perfect narrative timing. In the minds of many audience members, once the person they consider to be the main character dies, the story is over. For this reason, many storytellers wait until the end of the film to kill off their protagonist. Ben in Seven Pounds, Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, and William Wallace in Braveheart all die, but not until the end of the story. More recently, a few storytellers have experimented with killing main characters earlier in their narratives. Bill Pope in Criminal and Luke in The Place Beyond the Pines both die early on in their stories. PsychoMalcom X, Saving Private Ryan, Into the WildAmerican Beauty, and Gladiator all kill off their protagonists in different ways.

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3. KILL THE ANTAGONIST

Much more common than killing off the protagonist is the idea of killing off the antagonist. There’s a catharsis the audience feels when the antagonist gets what is coming to them. Unsurprisingly, many storytellers use this built-in emotion to conclude their stories. Rarely, if ever do we see the antagonist die before the end of the story. When John Fitzgerald is left to die in The Revenant, Hugh Glass’s journey feels complete. When Javert dies at the end of Les Misrables, Jean Valjean is finally free of the weight he has carried throughout the story. The look on Jack Torrance’s dead face at the end of The Shining is somehow just as chilling as the moment he breaks through the door with an axe. Seeing Hans Gruber descend into oblivion at the conclusion of Die Hard makes us all feel like John McClane.

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4. KILL THE LOVERS

There’s perhaps no love story more well-known than Romeo and Juliet. The timeless tale ends with both lovers dead. While it’s not necessary for both lovers to die in order to build empathy with the audience, taking away something one character values greatly is impactful, and has an even greater effect than taking away a character such as the mentor. Jack Dawson’s icy death in Titanic breaks our hearts because we know what he meant to Rose. Satine’s death in Moulin Rouge has a similar impression on Christian. Atonement, A Walk to Remember, and Leaving Las Vegas all portray the deaths of either one or both of the lovers involved. Even Forrest Gump brings a tear to our eye when he gives us the details about the death of his beloved Jenny.

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5. KILL EVERYONE

From Greek tragedies through Shakespeare, there’s a long tradition of killing off nearly all the characters in a story. This plot device only works in certain types of stories and can risk alienating the audience. However, many narratives accomplish great things and still manage to end the lives of most if not all the characters in the story. In Green Room, only Pat and Amber are left standing after an army of friends and enemies meet their demise. Both Thelma and Louise cruise into the great beyond together at the conclusion of their story. Nearly every character in The Departed dies before the film is over. Historical films often lean on the true stories of massive deaths. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, Young Guns II, and Platoon are but a few examples where nearly all main characters meet their fate.

Of course, no discussion about killing off characters would be complete without honoring the work of Quentin Tarantino. Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds, The Hateful Eight, and most of QT’s other films all kill off a great number of the cast before the final credits roll.

~

John Bucher is a writer, speaker, and story consultant based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of several books including The Inside Out Story and the upcoming Secrets of Short Visual Storytelling. He has written for entities ranging from HBO to International Ambassadors. He teaches at The LA Film Studies Center and has conducted story seminars on five continents. He can be reached on Twitter @johnkbucher and through his blog, welcometothesideshow.org.

Source: LA-Screenwriter