From Meron Hadero (Truth in Fiction: How to Use History and Current Events to Deepen Setting in Your Fiction, 2 sessions starting Sat., Jan. 30):
Last week was Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday (she would have been 125), and in honor of her, I decided to reread Their Eyes Were Watching God. I’ve read this novel once before as a junior in high school living in Gainesville, Florida, which is about one and a half hours north of Eatonville. Gainesville is a college town that loves football, but just beyond its borders is Hurston’s South, with its “mucky” Everglades and a harsh landscape that shapes how people live, their options, their obstacles. My question as I read will be this: What kinds of tensions build between setting, character, and desire to shape this narrative? These are some of the dynamics we’ll be looking at in my upcoming class, both in our reading and in student work.
Note Three: Our Latest Favorite Book On Writing
From Xandra Castleton (Screenwriting Workshop, 8 weeks beginning Mon., Feb 8)
I recently pulled a book off my shelf while updating my lesson plans for my upcoming screenwriting course and decided that it's a book I should read once a year. It's not a textbook, but a well-organized and easy to read collection of nuggets of wisdom from the film industry's top screenwriters called The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters — Inside Secrets from Hollywood’s Top Writers (2nd edition, 2011, edited by Karl Iglesias ). Among the twenty screenwriters tapped for useful tidbits are a few whose advice I already mine for my classes - and for my own inspiration - such as Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump). The advice is divided in six parts: Passion, Creativity, Discipline, Storycraft, Marketing and The Four P's (Patience, Perseverence, Passion and Practice) and touches on everything from time management to research, to pitching, networking and handling rejection. I like that I can pick it up and flip to a relevant section and get a little dose of inspiration, a different perspective or a well-needed slap of reality in just a few moment's time.
Iglesias sprinkles dozens of inspirational quotes throughout the book, quoting everyone from Tolstoy ("Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul and shows to people these secrets which are common to all") to Capra ("The whole thing is, you've got to make them care about somebody"). It's an easy and entertaining read for anyone interested in the intricacies of the screenwriting life.
Note Four: Upcoming Classes