Saturday, August 29, 2020

Our most requested seminar series - MASTERING THE INNER JOURNEY

 Here are a few questions to ask about your current project:

·         What brings your characters to life for the reader?

·         What bonds them to your characters?

·         In short, what moves the reader's heart?


Your plot must be interesting, to be sure, but what makes all the difference to the reader, whether in a novel, a film or a play, is the inner journey of the characters.  A story's plot generates excitement and interest for the reader, but it is conflict within the hero that keeps the reader involved.

For many writers, this can be the most difficult part of writing a long-form story but it lays at the very heart of what bonds your reader to you –what makes real fans out of the most casual reader.

It is this real problem that I've seen writers of all experience level that I've created Mastering the Inner Journey, a step-by-step process of crafting a compelling hero, with very human desires and the dynamic courage to face the internal change that lies at the heart of all award-winning stories.

In this new series, I will show you:

·         How your hero's personal history is the key to exciting prose
·         What brings out the truth in your story
·         How to advance and develop the hero's arc through each phase of the story
·         How to connect to your reader through your own passion
·         Where the Outer Journey and Inner Journey diverge in every story – and how each is incomplete without the other
·         The difference between conflict, turmoil, and drama
·         How secrets, surprises, and mistakes are the keys to a great character
·         How to easily turn your character's flaws into conflict
·         Finally understanding not just the nature of your hero wants – but of their NEEDS
·         Why the Inner Journey is essential to a book or film SERIES – and how to keep your hero fresh and compelling through it all

The series comes with a workbook of more than fifty questions and exercises that will lead you toward really understanding your hero and what they need to accomplish in your story to make the reader turning the pages. By answering the questions, and doing the brief exercises, you will create a compelling and very HUMAN hero - and build a story that will grab the reader and never let them go.

This course is designed for:

·         The aspiring writer who wants to understand what really makes a hero tick – and to get that clear down on the page.
·         The working writer who is seeing his/her stories not reaching the readers the way that they should
·         The accomplished writer who wants to write at a higher level and for a bigger audience.

This is a lesson in ESSENTIAL STORYTELLING and will inform and improve all writers – for the page, stage, AND screen.  I have taught this technique to novelist, screenwriters, comic book creators and playwrights

The 5-part audio/workbook series launches on September 1st and will go on sale to the public for $197.  As a present or former student, you can per-enroll in the seminar for just $97 (half-price) if you sign up before September 5th

To order, you can just send $97 to PayPal (to account: aholcomb07@gmail.com)

Don't you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward, to learn the skills of the professionals now and to give yourself the best single chance you'll have to find the success in writing that you have longed for?  

This course will only be offered once this year.  Come and join us for what promises to be a unique trip to success.

I hope to see you there.

Art

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What The Writer can learn from The Virus


So, here we are . . .

As I write this, we’re in the third week of March 2020 - in the middle of a developing global crisis.

Although we have hopes and expectations of better times, at present we’ve no idea how this will all resolve itself.

I’ve heard from several writers and some are struggling right now. They’re naturally afraid and unsure and many have told me that they feel a real powerlessness. Many have found it difficult to keep writing.

And, as I take the precautions I need to take to keep myself and my family safe – while trying to go on with as normal a life as I can manage – I’ve been thinking about writers and other artists, and trying to sort out how I should approach what’s happening and what I should be learning from this experience.

Let’s start with what I know for sure:

Writers have historically been the Canaries in the Coal Mine for society.  

At our best, we constantly take society’s temperature. We hold up the mirror and demand that we look at ourselves in the light of day, and then seek to make sense out of what we see.

Through comedy, we encourage and bring respite.

Through drama, we enlighten and bring insight.

We tell the stories about how we, as a people, cope with adversity and difficulty in our lives. Our works document the lives of our species, illuminating where we’ve been and seeking to prepare us all for the uncertainties to come.

So, here are some thoughts on how writers can use the situation we’re all in.

The Lessons from within yourself

Inside every crisis lies an opportunity - for growth and self-understanding: Only under pressure do we really come to know what we can accomplish as individuals. And it’s times like these which reveal what’s truly important in our lives.

Things we can write about:

Explore your own feelings in this moment: Whatever you’re going through, trust that millions of people are feeling much the same thing. The spectrum of human emotions in all its forms will be on display in the coming months.  

Catalog it. Portray it in your stories. Explore these feelings in writing and share them. There is an audience out there waiting to relate to what you have to say.

Write out your fears – use them in your stories. It’s the emotions in your writing that makes the greatest connection with your readers. 

And it’s when we confront our emotions that we are the most human.

The old saying is true – “Sometimes we don’t really know what we think or feel until we read what we have written.”

Lessons From Within Your Community

Pay strict attention to what’s going on around you: Our Continuing Story as a people is playing out as a microcosm in every community affected. The best chance for you to learn is from the people directly in front of you.

People reveal their true nature in a crisis. Heroesand Villainswill always emerge during a crisis, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. Remember, how a person reacts tells you their character.

We’re going to see the whole of human drama in the next couple of months. The best and the worst of who we are will be on display. Already we’re seeing displays of selfishness and weakness – but we are also seeing inspiring acts of kindness and sacrifice.

Find these moments and let them inspire your writing. Chronicle how the people around you are dealing with this terrible thing.

You are currently at the center of a Master Class in the complications and complexities of the Human Experience. What you learn from just discussing it in writing can make you a better writer.

Lessons From Inside This Global Story

We draw our story models in part from the paths which human life takes, and this crisis has all the components of a compelling story. Understanding it in this way can help you understand not only what has happened but what is yet to come.

So far, we have seen

  • The Normal World before the crisis;

  • The Inciting Incident in Wuhan, China.

We are currently watching… 

  • The Rising Action, when The Hero (that’s us as both individuals and as a society) tries to solve the problem as we struggle to learn the rules of this New World.

  • New allies and new obstacles emerge every day.

  • The real tension and release of our small failures and victories as we battle the growing threat and the real power of this bewildering enemy. In each case, whether it’s the empty aisles of our grocery stores to the singing in the empty streets of Paris and Rome, we will come to know ourselves a little better.

What’s yet to come

  • The “Pinch Points” - where this Antagonist will remind us of its power and determination;

  • The Midpoint Turn, where the direction of our journey changes;

  • The “Dark Night of the Soul” moments when our Hero will fear that all may be lost;

  • That Moment when we will muster all the resources at our disposal and confront the opposing force directly;

  • The Climax, when we will see the tides turn and know that we are victorious;

  • The Aftermath as when we must deal with our new reality.

As writers, you will see these factors play out in both your personal life and in our society at large.

But right now

The world is frightened and unsure – but we can take comfort and strength in the fact that we know how this story plays out. 

After all, stories were first created so the elders of the village could tell the young people what their lives were going to be like.

We can lead the reader in finding the truth and the comfort that they need.

So write.

It makes little difference what you write. The most important thing is that you’re writing and sharing with your audience.

You can give insight and hope to your readers during these tough times.

After all that’s what writers do.

So keep calm… take heart… and get back to work.

_______________________________

ART HOLCOMB is a writer and educator.  His most recent project is an online class entitled Mastering the Inner Journey which is available now.  He will be launching a new podcast for writers interested in how to keep their art going during this crisis.  For more information, you can email him at aholcomb07@gmail.com. He lives in Southern California.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Destructive Power of Good Enough


Today, Art talks about why first-time screenwriters have to be better than established writers, the "Hollywood No", and the importance of the re-write.

Nearly 40 years as a writer has taught me some important lessons, one of which is that writers, whether they’re just starting out or well into their career, all need access to the absolute, straightforward truth about their craft and the journey they are taking as writers.
This is especially important for first-timers because there is so much information out there – much of it from dubious sources – which makes it very difficult to know whom to trust.
So, in this article, I will give you three points of absolute truth.
Truth One
Established successful writers – sadly – get away with mediocrity all the time.
How often have you been disappointed with a favorite author’s most recent offering? Or the follow-up movie by a screenwriter you respect?
I know I have – and often.
It’s because they already have a threshold market – a group of people whom the producer can accurately predict will buy any screenwriter’s next effort. If that number is high enough, that company will produce that writer’s next work – essentially regardless of the quality.
For example, even if a successful novelist’s next book is not up to snuff, the publisher is likely not to reject the book and risk having the author take his or her future books elsewhere.
For them, “Good is probably good enough.” And so they move on to the next project.
However, for first-timers like many of you, Good is never going to be good enough.”
Because…
Truth Two
You must be great. Your first script must be great in order to sell.

Why? Because it has two challenges that it must meet.
First, it must be better than the mass of other submissions from first-timers. Luckily, this may not be so difficult if you do a good job.
But second, your work must be strong enough to shoulder its way through the ranks of the established writers to find a place in the production budget.
Consider for a moment the conversation being held as these decision-makers are considering your work. No one is going to back your project if they’re on the fence. “I like it – it’s an interesting idea – but I don’t love it,” is not a statement that gets you a contract.
So, in the end, how do you tell if your work is great?
Simple. It’s, of course, the money.

If the producer or agent who has just read it doesn’t want to give you a contract to purchase the piece, then your work – as it stands at that moment – simply isn’t good enough.
And this sucks. Because current sensibilities exist so that these readers will either not have the guts to tell you the truth, or are scared that they will hurt your feelings, and so instead say something like “I like the concept, but characters need a little more development, and Act II is a little thin.”
It’s called the “Hollywood No” and it borders on the unprofessional, but there it is. Something that sounds like encouragement but is really a blow-off. And unless you do what it takes to make each of your next offerings great, you better get used to it.
Also, don’t buy into any posts on social media, where someone says a professional reader read their script really liked it. This is another insult offered to writers in the 21st century. For if anyone inside the industry reads your work and doesn’t instantly contract that work for production (aka they send a check), then they don’t like it enough to produce it.
In the end, you have to wow them. Anything less leads to failure. You must understand this. Make no mistake, there is no middle ground.
For there are only two types of scripts.
A work is either
  1. great-and-wonderful and anyone who reads it wants to buy it, or
  2. it’s not good enough and it gets rejected.
But here is our final truth for today, as disheartening as it may sound…
Truth Three
I have built my reputation as a teacher on this one fundamental belief:
You must spend all the time, skills and talents necessary to master your re-writes.
I repeat: your success and failure as a writer lies almost entirely on your ability to rewrite your work.
You have got to have:
  • a compelling, engaging Premise
  • correct, professional Formatting
  • great natural Dialogue
  • cut-to-the-chase grabbing Description
  • a wholly structured A-Story
  • two or three Sub-Plots
  • a superb and compelling Conflict
  • fascinating Characters
  • a fulfilling Resolution
And you do not ever find these in the first draft! They are only brought to life in the rewrite.
Robert McKee
“Secure writers don’t sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity.”
Robert McKee

I have seen more than my share of scripts, and most writers are so relieved that they have finished an actual draft of the work (an accomplishment to be sure), that they give it a quick polish and hope for the best. This leads to a pass from the reader and time wasted because the writer did not have a process developed enough to create a great script.
The art of the writer, and their dedication to craft, is always revealed in the rewrite, where – if they have done their work well enough to have created a compelling premise, did the re-write well enough to have fully explored the concept, chosen the correct main character, and applied their knowledge of structure to make the work an easy read – they have made the nine points above shine.
It sounds like a near-impossible task, but time and time again I have seen new writers embrace what is necessary to succeed. So I know it is inside each one of you to make your script great.
Because by embracing these truths and truly learning your craft, you can develop a process you can use to write compelling, exciting and page-turning screenplays.
- - - - - - - -
This is a reprint or Art's column that appeared in Creative Screenwriting Magazine in May 2016 


Sunday, February 16, 2020

My new seminar series - MASTERING THE INNER JOURNEY


Here are a few questions to ask about your current project:

·         What brings your characters to life for the reader?


·         What bonds them to your characters?


·         In short, what moves the reader's heart?


Your plot must be interesting, to be sure, but what makes all the difference to the reader, whether in a novel, a film or a play, is the inner journey of the characters.  A story's plot generates excitement and interest for the reader, but it is conflict within the hero that keeps the reader involved.


For many writers, this can be the most difficult part of writing a long-form story but it lays at the very heart of what bonds your reader to you –what makes real fans out of the most casual reader.


It is this real problem that I've seen writers of all experience level that I've created Mastering the Inner Journey, a step-by-step process of crafting a compelling hero, with very human desires and the dynamic courage to face the internal change that lies at the heart of all award-winning stories.


In this new series, I will show you:

·         How your hero's personal history is the key to exciting prose
·         What brings out the truth in your story
·         How to advance and develop the hero's arc through each phase of the story
·         How to connect to your reader through your own passion
·         Where the Outer Journey and Inner Journey diverge in every story – and how each is incomplete without the other
·         The difference between conflict, turmoil, and drama
·         How secrets, surprises, and mistakes are the keys to a great character
·         How to easily turn your character's flaws into conflict
·         Finally understanding not just the nature of your hero wants – but of their NEEDS
·         Why the Inner Journey is essential to a book or film SERIES – and how to keep your hero fresh and compelling through it all


The series comes with a workbook of more than fifty questions and exercises that will lead you toward really understanding your hero and what they need to accomplish in your story to make the reader turning the pages. By answering the questions, and doing the brief exercises, you will create a compelling and very HUMAN hero - and build a story that will grab the reader and never let them go.


This course is designed for:

·         The aspiring writer who wants to understand d what really makes a hero tick – and to get that clear down on the page.
·         The working writer who is seeing his/her stories not reaching the readers the way that they should
·         The accomplished writer who wants to write at a higher level and for a bigger audience.


This is a lesson in ESSENTIAL STORYTELLING and will inform and improve all writers – for the page, stage, AND screen.  I have taught this technique to novelist, screenwriters, comic book creators and playwrights


The 5-part audio/workbook series launches on March 21st and will go on sale to the public for $197.  As a present or former student, you can per-enroll in the seminar for just $97 (half-price) if you sign up before February  25


To order, you can either:


(1)   Send $97 to PayPal (to account: aholcomb07@gmail.com) Or


(2)   Send a check for $97 to

       Art Holcomb

       3404 Donder Court, Suite 201

       Riverside, CA 92507-4033


Don't you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward, to learn the skills of the professionals now and to give yourself the best single chance you'll have to find the success in writing that you have longed for?  


This course will only be offered once this year.  Come and join us for what promises to be a unique trip to success.


I hope to see you there.


Art

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Hi - Art here:

Recently one of my students asked me if my courses ever go on sale.  He was inspired by the Amazon Prime Day sale this week and had been wanting to take one of my classes that we haven't offered in a while

I hadn't considered it at all, but realized that it was a good idea - so here goes:

I am offering one of my best online courses to you at half price. 

It’s entitled “Two Drafts/ Two Polishes” (2D/2P), and it’s essentially just that: a process for reducing the amount of work on your next novel or screenplay down to just two drafts and two short polishes.    It’s based upon the methods I use to teach professional writers in my private practice.
  • Imagine a way to get the best possible visualization of your story out of your mind and on to the page the first time.  
  • Imagine being able to FULLY see your story before you even begin writing!
How many drafts and how many hours could you cut out of the process this way? 2D/2P can teach you the way that professional write and much more.

Briefly, the process works like this:
  • We start with the enhanced STORY DREAMING technique, which teaches you how to SEE the entire story from the very beginning, to understand how YOU can access the stories that you are best at the very first time out.
  • Then we show you the best way to create the first  (or DREAM DRAFT) of your work, naturally and organically bringing the most complete version of the story from you the first time -  and through the use of our String of Pearls Method, we can help create stories without early on worrying about strict structure
  • And, since the power of writing comes from your ability to rewrite, we’ll show you the best, most efficient way to do THE REWRITE, teaching you how to quickly decide what to keep and what to cut,  how to naturally tighten, strengthen and form your Dream Draft into a compelling, easy-to-read 2nd Draft that shows off your best skills
  • Then comes the AGENT’S POLISH, where we tweak and  hone the draft to make it most compelling to the Reader and Agent – greatly increasing the chances of it finding representation;
  • And finally, the PUBLISHER/PRODUCERS POLISH, which targets the publisher (or film company) most likely to buy your work based on your type of story and their individual buying history.
2D/2P is a revolutionary way of looking at the writing process and is the result of my training of over 100 professional writers over the past decade.  It brings the techniques and methods that professionals use to create powerful works FAST – while teaching you how to write quickly and powerfully from the very beginning.  
Think about it! No more 8th and 9th drafts of the same work and being insecure about whether it is really and truly the best you can do. 
2D/2P will teach you to judge your work realistically each time and will train you to naturally create stories while teaching the fundamentals of structure, plotting, and dialogue along the way.

2D/2P is perfect for you - if you’re:
  • Just starting out and don't know what your personal style of writing is yet
  • More experienced and want to complete works in HALF THE TIME;
  • Want to create a process that will make you more Professionally Competitive in the marketplace
The seminar series is usually $497 - but, because you have taken one of my seminars before, I'm offering you the very special introductory price of only $197 (OVER 60% off!) if you sign up before September 1st.

To order, you can either:

(1)   Send $197 to PayPal (to account:
aholcomb07@gmail.com) Or

(2)   Send a check for $197 to

       Art Holcomb
       3404 Donder Court, Suite 201
       Riverside, CA 92507-4033

Don’t you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward, to learn the skills of the professionals now and to give yourself the best single chance you’ll have to find the success in writing that you have longed for?  

This course will only be offered once this year.  Come and join us for what promises to be a unique trip to success

I hope to see you there.