Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing Lessons

Once a month for three hours in my living room, I tutor seven motivated Catholic home school teens on screenplay story structure. The group is part of the St. Augustine Home School Enrichment experience run by Dr. Henry Russell out of Ann Arbor. The image at right is of them taking a essay exam (hey, their writers) over our first eight sessions. Ms. J.S., their sponsor and test checker, sits at the end of the table on the right.

I really enjoy teaching them. During the week we exchange emails as they send in their iterative structural beat sheets. We're moving into the synopsis and treatment stages on some great stories. 

Later that session I asked them for a list of writing rules that would reflect what they had learned. Here's what they said:

1. The hook and log line must reflect the core physical conflict and imply the underlying values.

2. There must be irony in the premise.

3. The story must have market appeal.

4. Audiences must identify with the protagonist's imperfect but talented characteristics.

5. Good characterization must be exaggerated; or a character must have an exaggerated life.

6. A writer must be organized and find the right structure for a story.

7. The story must be about something physically and morally important to a universal audience.

8.The physical spine should be a metaphor for the moral (or psychological spine)

9. Write everyday.

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