Monday, May 2, 2011

Plot Bunnies Beware!

A Mechanical Mondays Post

Last weekend I took the Robert McKee Story Seminar, a weekend course on story craft. I had a great time. It was a grueling four days of lectures -- from nine a.m. to seven p.m. -- during which I stayed at the Westin, which is cool because I let the staff there pamper me a little. The schedule was tough, the people pretty preoccupied. Lots of industry folks there, bursting from the classes and hitting their phones instead of socializing and there was none of that great restaurant hopping and drinking that happens at Romantic Times or other conferences. I truly missed my little bunch of bar and buffet buddies from RT! (You KNOW who you are...)

Lots of people argue that I could get that same kind of information from the web, from observation, from reading and watching film, from books, from local courses, and I would have to agree. What I can't get is the time to be alone in the midst of assimilating all that information -- time where I have nothing more to do than go over my notes in a nice hotel room and ask myself the million dollar question: I know a lot of this stuff, what keeps me from putting into practice perfectly each and every single time?

The reflection on this always leads to what seem like minute changes but make the work a little better, a little more fluid, a bit easier, or harder sometimes, but more worthwhile. And that's why I go.

Every time I attend a class or panel discussion on craft, whether it's a fairly expensive course like this one, or a freebie offered at a conference I'm attending I learn something new. Whether I am reading a book about writing or just reading a great book, the truth is each pass at craft causes a minor course correction which slightly changes my trajectory as a writer.

Do I plan on writing the next big hollywood blockbuster screenplay. Nah. Not really. But if taking that course reminds me of the necessity of picking exactly the right "inciting incident" in my storyline and beginning my book at exactly the right moment in a novel I'm already working on? (something I have yet to do with the perfect confidence I could have done it no other way) That would really be something, huh?

In the meantime, I'm here to report that there is no shortage of tragically hip people in LA, and that alas, I was not one of them...

Get All Stirred UP!

Don't forget to check out the newest Z.A. Maxfield release from MLR Press:

Here for MLR Press

Here for Amazon


  1. I do know exactly what you mean. You're never sure what's going to help you improve your craft--the minute you open yourself up to the idea that everything can be helpful is the minute you start getting wonderful, helpful ideas of your own:-)

  2. absolutely, and sometimes you need a quiet, comfy space and really nice room service to figure it out!