Posts tagged MasterClass
20 Lines About Shonda Rhimes and Also My Phone
  1. I lost my phone/wallet yesterday, so if you need me email’s best for a while.

  2. Before I lost my phone/wallet, I started Shonda Rhimes’s MasterClass while getting ready in the morning.

  3. In the first or second video, she says something that reminded me of what it felt like a really, really long time ago, when I was still inspired by everything.

  4. She says pick a newspaper and read it every day, and then turn the stories into stories—imagine people, characters, in these stories and make the stories human.

  5. I feel like that’s the kind of advice that would’ve made me fill up multiple journals back when I identified as a young person who desperately wanted to grow up and be a writer.

  6. I think maybe that’s not exactly what she says, but it’s what I heard in the bathroom while brushing my teeth and curling my hair and staring at my phone that was propped on my wall-mounted soap dish that I never use for anything except watching stuff on my phone in the morning.

  7. I really miss my stupid phone.

  8. I had to cancel all my credit cards (Wells Fargo, your 24/7 automated customer service line does not work, I’ve been calling for like 12 hours now [but Google hangouts, thank you for existing so I can make any calls at all]).

  9. IDK how I’m going to replace my driver’s license, because the state of Utah only accepts one online printout of the various documents they’ll accept that prove your residency, and, um, all my banking and utilities and university records and etc are online, so.

  10. I tried to set an online alarm to get me up this morning but I didn’t set it right and slept in later than I wanted to, which started up a different set of stupid problems for me today.

  11. Anyway, Rhimes also says that if you want to write for television (I don’t, but I love her so I want to absorb everything she says) to watch and learn from your favorite pilots.

  12. She says she watched The West Wing and studied it.

  13. And then she says that we needed The West Wing during the Bush administration just as we needed Scandal during the Obama years, that these shows succeeded in part because they were able to give us what we needed, politically, wrt entertainment.

  14. Intelligent and articulate people who were smarter and more idealistic than us, and who were somewhat unrealistically optimistic on The West Wing.

  15. And a DC where everyone’s corrupt and terrible (but lol still smarter than us) on Scandal.

  16. It’s interesting, I think, and yesterday it made me wonder, what do I need when I watch TV?

  17. But then I lost my phone and during the day while doing work things I couldn’t check my email on my phone to find out if anyone had found my phone and tried to email me about finding it, which would be funny except it’s not.

  18. I think, mostly, I’ve been able to cancel and order replacements for most of the things (thankfully, I have phone insurance; losing the deductible kind of sucks but definitely not as much as it would have sucked to have to pay for a new phone in full).

  19. License and social security card are going to be tricky to replace, but I’ll figure it out, and I think I’ll finally update my passport too so I have some form of ID if this ever happens again.

  20. I lost my emergency cash stash, which really hurts, because until now my phone/wallet has been the safest place for me to keep such a stash, but yeah, cash is stupid and losing it sucks.

James Patterson and Alan Watt on Outlines

Yesterday, I called Rachel and at some point we started talking about Ottessa Moshfegh, which led me to search online for the name of the how-to book she used to start writing Eileen, and I found it: Alan Watt’s The 90-Day Novel. Impulsively, I bought it and The 90-Day Rewrite. Today, I’m scrolling through Rewrite and thinking about a few of the suggested questions to keep in mind during this first week of revision: (1) What do I want to express through this story? (2) What is the most effective order of events to tell it? (3) Do I have a worthy antagonist? There are eleven questions total, but I’m happily stuck on these three. By the end of the week, I really do hope to have answers.

In related news, for Christmas I got a subscription to MasterClass, and I started with James Patterson’s. Actually, I started with Margaret Atwood’s, but skipped to Patterson. One thing I appreciate is that he’s transparent about not being here to make great works of literature. Instead, he’s gonna tell you about his own process—a streamlined, efficient one—for writing books that sell.

At this point, perhaps one of the largest-order challenges I could pose to myself is to write a plot-driven novel. So, because I’m open to giving it a try, I’m ready to absorb all the advice that’s out there. Like Moshfegh, I consider it an experiment and also just want “to write a novel to start a career where I could live off publishing books.” Except in my case, I just want to supplement my salary to be able to pay off Lit Pub and student loan debt in time to maybe retire if I live to be 80.

Anyway, Patterson makes writing commercial fiction seem doable. And he says to begin with an outline. Watt’s 90 Day Rewrite also says to begin with an outline. For Patterson, the real work happens in the outline—mapping the entire trajectory of the story, layering onto it the protag’s emotional journey, and writing each chapter toward what you want your reader to feel, which he says is a cat-and-mouse game readers want to play. For Watt, now that we know what we’re working with, we can reorder what we have and map these moving parts onto a traditional three-act outline. Day One’s exercise is to do this, to fill in the blanks on the outline template he provides. So. Here goes nothing. Day One.