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danielnoah
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A Welcome from Your Moderator

[ Edited ]

My name is Daniel Noah, and I became a screenwriter when I was five years old. It began the first day I picked up a set of Star Wars figures and made up a story. I would compose shots with my eye, holding Han Solo right up to my face as some distant vista (my bedspread) stretched off into infinity. I spent hours every day creating epic sagas with those toys, and it's what I still do 30 years later. Only now, I do it with screenplays. The craft of telling a story on film requires just a bit more expertise than playing with action figures on your bedspread. But at its heart that's what writing a movie is: playing. What separates the writers from everyone else is that we don't outgrow our play; we turn it into our work. So, let's get started.

Here is your very first assignment: Write a short bio (between 250 and 500 words) and post it in the Introduce Yourselves thread. It doesn't have to be anything flashy: just tell us who you are, why you're here, and (this is the important part) what you would like to get from this book club.

Take a look around and get comfortable with this online setting. The message board is set up so that all of the topics are available at the same time: this means that you can work your way through them at your own pace. I'll be checking all of the discussion topics, so please feel free to post questions or comments wherever you are in the process.

You'll also find writing exercises to go with each topic. Think of them as ways of playing with the information you will have picked up in the book club. Peer review is an important part of our writing process, so be sure to provide constructive feedback to the writing samples posted to the board. I’ll reserve my comments for the writing samples I think best illustrate the topic we’re currently discussing.

You won't be developing a screenplay in this course, but in our text, Writing Movies, you will find "stepping stone" exercises that will guide you through that very process. So make sure you buy Writing Movies.

Speaking of movies, I'll also be assigning a movie to go with each topic. Watch the assigned movies, and we'll discuss them together. There's no better way to learn to write movies than by watching movies.

This is also important: If you have a technical question, please post it in the Questions for Daniel thread. I'll forward it to one of the editors at BN.com who can help you right away.

Writing is a lonely profession. But this book club is an opportunity to write in a fraternity of other writers, to get feedback not only on your writing but on your questions and doubts. So make a noise out there, people! Post stuff. Discuss. Argue. And write away. We're in this together.

-Daniel

About About Daniel Noah

Daniel wrote and directed the feature film Twelve for producer Ira Deutchman, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival and was named by Ain't It Cool News as a "Top 10 Indie Films of 2001." As a screenwriter he has written scripts for Warner Brothers Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Dimension Films, Imagine Entertainment, NBC and The CW. He authored a chapter on Plot in Writing Movies, part of Gotham Writers’ Workshop's series of writing guides. Daniel holds a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from NYU.

Gotham Writers' Workshop is the leading private creative writing school in New York City and on the Internet. The professional writers on the school's faculty teach comprehensive courses in more than a dozen forms of writing at levels from beginning to advanced. Selected "Best of the Web" by Forbes, Gotham workshops are acclaimed for professional instruction and extensive student-teacher interaction. To date, more than 12,000 aspiring writers from around the world have studied creative writing online with the professional writers of Gotham Writers Workshop. Learn more at Writing Classes.com.

Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 03-01-2007 03:46 PM

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Re: A Welcome from Your Moderator + question

[ Edited ]
Thanks for your intro Daniel, I like your red tie. You look busy on your icon. I enjoyed your last course on BNU so I am back for more.

you said:
"Peer review is an important part of our writing process, so be sure to provide constructive feedback to the writing samples posted to the board."

Then you also said that writing is a lonely business ("Writing is a lonely profession. But this book club is an opportunity to write in a fraternity of other writers, to get feedback not only on your writing but on your questions and doubts.")

Thus I wonder where is the line and how do you cross it? from the 'creative writing course style' to the actual writing as a writer? When do you become a writer?

Daniel:
So make a noise out there, people! Post stuff. Discuss. Argue. And write away. We're in this together.

Again? OK, I will if you say so.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 03-03-200703:49 AM

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danielnoah
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Re: A Welcome from Your Moderator + question


ziki wrote:
I wonder where is the line and how do you cross it? from the 'creative writing course style' to the actual writing as a writer? When do you become a writer?



Having given this some thought, I've come up with a four step system for measuring when you have jumped a level, from novice to "real writer." Each time one level is achieved, one must sets his sights on the next.

1. You are a real writer when you write every day.
2. You are a real writer when you finish something.
3. You are a real writer when you get paid for it.
4. You are a real writer when you have a public.
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: A Welcome from Your Moderator + question


danielnoah wrote:

Having given this some thought, I've come up with a four step system for measuring when you have jumped a level, from novice to "real writer." Each time one level is achieved, one must sets his sights on the next.

1. You are a real writer when you write every day.
2. You are a real writer when you finish something.
3. You are a real writer when you get paid for it.
4. You are a real writer when you have a public.


Bravo, Daniel -- I've never heard it put so succinctly!

I spent my young life (upper grade school through high school) at Level 2, moved up to Level 3 in college (when I was getting published and paid), and then suffered the long, slow decline of the workforce, married life, and parenthood, to the point where for many years I've written only sporadically for my own pleasure and haven't had anything published. Upside: no deadlines. Downside: no product.

For me to re-achieve Level 1 at this point would be an accomplishment. Level 2 would be nirvana.
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danielnoah
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Re: A Welcome from Your Moderator + question

There's nothing stopping it.
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answer

[ Edited ]
Splendid Daniel, a very instructive, supportive & well defined asnwer.

There also have to be some maintenance and time factor, #5? One sold outline might not make me into a writer (or perhaps that is more what kind of writer one is).

5: You are a real writer when you keep your audience over a long period of time.

(that should stretch it all the way to classics)

thanks
ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 03-06-200706:17 AM

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crAZRick
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Re: answer

ziki, your #5 is already covered in Daniel's #4, having a public, no need to quantify it. Once you have a public following, it's yours until you lose it.

sure, you can come up with other ways to qualify yourself as a 'real writer' vs just a recreational creative writer, but you shouldn't add a 'new' level by restating a given.
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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Re: answer



crAZRick wrote:
ziki, your #5 is already covered in Daniel's #4, having a public, no need to quantify it. Once you have a public following, it's yours until you lose it.

sure, you can come up with other ways to qualify yourself as a 'real writer' vs just a recreational creative writer, but you shouldn't add a 'new' level by restating a given.




point taken , the question was how you jump the boundary...ok
ziki
NEM
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NEM
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Re: A Welcome from Your Moderator + question

I like the four step analogy.

Can you explain why some posts have a "rate this message" and others do not.

Are we (the contributors)supposed to comment on other peers writing?

Does the moderator at some point comment on all submissions?
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danielnoah
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Re: A Welcome from Your Moderator + question


NEM wrote:
I like the four step analogy.

Can you explain why some posts have a "rate this message" and others do not.

Are we (the contributors)supposed to comment on other peers writing?

Does the moderator at some point comment on all submissions?




Hi, NEM. I'm fairly certain that anyone can rate a post. If you come across one that you think is chock full smarts, give it a high rating. Or one that you think sucks, give it a low rating. On the other hand, you don't have to bother with it at all if you don't want to.

The writing exercises are an opportunity for all of you to post your work, get feedback, and give it. In my experience, the more you give, the more you get back. I will ocassionally check in with the exercises and post comments if I feel they will be intructive to the group at large, but only very occasionally. First and foremost, you have each other.
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danielnoah
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Re: answer

But Ziki's point is a good one. A true artist is always pushing to reach the next level. The moment that process stops, something in you dies.
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Re: answer



danielnoah wrote:
But Ziki's point is a good one. A true artist is always pushing to reach the next level. The moment that process stops, something in you dies.




Yes. Any creative person will recognize that. Take Picasso, he was constantly breaking into a new territory as well as perfecting his technique and experimenting. He also kept the dialog with his audience alive.

Some people stay just with the ambition but produce no results.

My original question was about the transition from a wannabee to a writer. How to keep being a writer can be seen as another question, so in that respect king's remak was valid. But I view the 'maintenance' as an important part of the process that's not always linear. Umberto Ecco wrote as a young boy at school and then not until he was ca 50yo.

Plus: There's always next step....until your body safely rests in your coffin....but
ponder also that someone might write abook and it is not read inhis/her lifetime but makes a hole into the universe much later, after the writer's death.

I am not sure about movies, tho': Was there ever a movie that flopped and then was rediscovered later on? Or is there anyone in the movies that made a debut in his /her fifties? Not likely on the silver screen, how about backstage?

ziki :smileyhappy:
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rating system



NEM wrote:
I like the four step analogy.

Can you explain why some posts have a "rate this message" and others do not.

Are we (the contributors)supposed to comment on other peers writing?

Does the moderator at some point comment on all submissions?




NEM, the rating system is not tied particularly to this class as a kind of evaluation of your writing. You will not graduate from this course with high or low degrees. Personally I think that the rating system should be done away with entirely as it doesn't carter for an open minded surroundings. It is an outdated way of thinking that supports competition not cooperation.

You can turn your system off (see your profile) but if you used it and a post isn't rated it will not show any marks. So it is up to you to decide what you do with it. The system has been misused by participants who were rating others with one star to persecute them on purpose. If that happens again, please report it to the moderator.

There's is more on the subject of rating in the help section.

If you want to comment on others' writing here, it is better you do it in writing telling what you see as good or bad and why. That is far more valuable and a more nuanced approach. The rating system doesn't have any clear criteria and includes many other factors, it is rather machanical.

Thus you see my opinion on this differs a bit from Daniel's.

ziki
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danielnoah
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Re: answer

Lots of movie go unappreciated until after their release. The Shawshank Redemption was considered a flop. It's now one of the most popular films ever made.
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crAZRick
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Re: answer

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:

I am not sure about movies, tho': Was there ever a movie that flopped and then was rediscovered later on?

ziki :smileyhappy:




The Shawshank Redemption, for one was considered a flop upon release in theaters.(one of many many 'cult classics', just so you are aware that this is not the only film that achieved such a legend in the contemporary mythology... I know you apparently have a thing about incomplete lists...) It only became 'classic' after hitting TV and video when a new appreciation was gained for the story being told.

now, Shawshank Redemption has become a part of the contemporary mythology.

WOW! guess it must be true then?! :smileyvery-happy:

( great minds think alike, I guess Daniel! I must have been typing while you were posting!! :smileyvery-happy: I agree 100% with your response!! :smileyvery-happy:)

Message Edited by crAZRick on 03-10-200711:33 AM

I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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