I normally take the first few sentences that, David Mamet says at the start of his video lessons. Today, I just listened and used one from the center of the video and one at the end. I laughed at each one.
David loves structure. I have a thing for disorganization. I wondered how I could come together with Davids teachings. I can. He tells us to see the structure at the start, watch it move through the middle the end, Act 1 -Act 2- Act 3. Watch for change. See the weight of the knife. How does it change?
“Structure is very important, I mean I think a lot about structure. And I think about our greatest western philosopher. I think a lot of you guys have already beat me to the punch, when I say of course it was, Daffy Duck. Because Daffy Duck asks the essential question of philosophy which is “Say what’s going on here, anyways”
“People said, Michelangelo’s statue of David, Right, pretty cute. And they say, my God how did you do that? He said, I just looked at this block of marble and I cut away everything that wasn’t David. And so, I grew up like everyone else thinking my God how brilliant. Until I realized, that what he was really saying, was buzz off.”
I am an anomaly. A person of color, that grew up in a neighborhood of even more color. Fact: life’s color doesn’t reflect from your skin. When I was a kid I had no idea I was one color or another until I was called out and told that my skin color was wrong, different, strangely overrated. Easily trapped like those Chicago rats, a Norway rat from Asia a migrant, a refugee deformed by poisons consumed. Rats chew through wood, glass, metal with teeth that continued to grow never really wearing down. Keeping them chewing, to live. To be poisoned to live to keep searching. To hunt, to quest, to explore to find a way out of the dark, avoiding death, the color of one rat no different than the other in the dark. Obscured in fur-covered skin. My hair won’t cover my skin color. I am human. I can see the rat. It pushes up from the hole under the house along the back wall near the alley close to food. Closer to the poison and no closer to getting what they need. Never seeing the color of its skin. Humans perceive one top layer. Ignoring the other six layers of protection.
Color Cats Claws
by Gerardine Baugh
Trimming cats claws. Eighteen toes, five toes in front. Four toes in back. A polydactyl cat has more toes. Hemmingway’s cats have six-toes and still live in Key West. Their owner died in Ketchum, Idaho. Nails fly as they are clipped. Some cats enjoy getting their nails trimmed. Other cats complain muttering growls. Nails grown beyond their blood supply are shed like a coat of long hair, shorthaired, others hairless –cats. They comb their hair with their claws. They groom, climb, protect and hunt with their claws. Old fashion wives, jealous wives, with their tail’s tales, worried their cat will steal their breath, needed their claws removed. Misinformation places a claw as a weapon, not seen as a cat’s finger, fingers with nails that need to be trimmed, or polished. I wonder what color my cat will like, pink or blue, possibly clear.
I made it through January 2018; now, my goals for February.
What I found, by doing a monthly goal, and not just a full year of resolutions is that instead of losing momentum by mid-January, I became eager to get to the end of the month. –With a sprinkling of stress.
I found, that instead of taking all day to run through a Blog posting-which I did that first week– by the second week I was able to post-to-get-done without overthinking. Blah-blah-blah! Still came out but, it still became a post. If I had passed over a day because I didn’t feel like it, or I couldn’t think of anything to write I would have regretted –just not trying.
I had wanted to start this month by writing an opinion piece on the Woman’s March. It didn’t pan out. I have sent out emails and never got a response. Now I am waiting for a Facebook message, while I do some more research.
Last month I posted on books I was reading, or sites I visited. I will add updates to those this month.
I want to get back to doing a nature walk post. This month’s goal is to write without stress.
“So, What’s my objective? Aristotle says that is the only thing that matters. What is the objective of the hero, to get from point A to point B; the scenes are the incidents and each indents builds up into a three-act structure. Okay, so the first Act structure is where my ideas run out Act 1. The second Act I don’t remember that- I am to drain the swamp when I am up to my toosh in alligators. ……”
…act I act 2 act 3 Its all about a knife,….same knife but the knife has a different weight in each act…
I watched this lesson three times. I am enjoying David Mamet’s enthusiasm as he teaches about plotting.
Today is the last day in January. I posted something each day so my GOAL has been completed…Hmmm, on to February, 2018 and a new twenty-eight-day GOAL.
“I am covered in tats and my left arm is Admire Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay, 1895. And my right arm, and I think I am the only guy who has this, you tell me, is the final scene from Kramer vs. Kramer. And on my chest is the first chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey. But it’s reversed so, I can read it when I m shaving. And on my back, it’s good night moon..”
I listened to this video three times, and I will listen again. I love how David Mamet talks. He starts out talking about how he normally dresses and his tats. I have a tattoo on my right arm, ‘This Living Hand’ by John Keats. I had asked for it to be put on upside down so I could read it. I was talked out of that placement…Hmmm, maybe next tat.
Back to David Mamet and Lesson 9.
He tells us: he uses corkboards and tacks on index cards or butcher paper and draws out where the story is supposed to go. He will easily ‘see’ if his story is working out. He will be able to see if the progression makes sense: from scene 1, to scene 2, to scene 3, By laying them out he can see if the progression makes sense.
This will reduce his story to an incident. Example: I walk up the stairs. Or I sat down at a table; put that on the board. You can see if your story is staying in line with where it is supposed to go.
Need more information on David Mamet’s Masterclass dot com. Click on his name, in the top left sidebar.
“Plot is all that there is. And that’s all that there is. And I say the perfect example is the joke. Right! There’s nothing in the joke that doesn’t not tend towards the punch line. Anything in the joke that does not tend toward the punchline kills the joke. And if you talk to comedy writers in LA, they have a saying among themselves what do you do all week? They are shaving syllables. They are taking out extra syllables “
“Everything in the joke tends towards the punch line. That’s what a plot is if it doesn’t tend towards the punchline take it out”
Listening to David Mamet on plotting is what makes these MasterClasses worth their salt.
He tells us that plotting is something you learn, by creating plotlines. And that each new piece, screenplay, story, will need a new plotline.
Nothing generic here. Over the years I have searched out, ‘how to write a plotline’ and found so many different answers. David Mamet is right up front telling us that plotting is hard. And you need a new one to fit each new project. So, shortcuts are out the window.
When you start listing out your plot, if there is anything that you wrote down, ‘that doesn’t take your original goal to the end’ then take it out.
Listening to David Mamet is worth the price of this course. I am only on video eight (8) of twenty-six (26) and I have learned something from each of the (8) classes. If you would like to check out the site: click on his name in the top left sidebar.
Or just read my other posts on David Mamet classes.
“All there is- is the things that people say. Why do they say them? To get something from each other. Guy A wants to get something from girl B. Girl B wants to get something from guy A. That’s why they talk. The rhythm of their speeches is a certain kind of poetry, which structured so if each one of them is pursuing a specific goal, you might even call it a play.”
Have your characteruse the jargon of his or her profession.
This lesson had me a little confusedwith ‘not’ manipulating change in the character, it could be because I was multitasking; listening to the video, petting my cat, trying to remove the cat hair off my computer and watching Captain Kirk. My thoughts, I may be wrong, but what I got was -let your character evolve don’t force it.
At one point he said,( And I am paraphrasing here) that when you create your characters, create a man or woman, don’t color them in. You want your readers to imagine themselves as that character. You will lose that connection if you become too specific at the beginning.
I have been working on a short story. I am not sure, yet, if I want it to be part of a linked series, or to stand on its own.
When I start writing I need to have an idea in place. I don’t write out a plotline, I just scribble down an idea, a character or a place where the character lives. Then adding what he or she looks like later. In that first scribbled-off-draft I am focusing on what they want.
Hmm, I can’t say I am apantser. A pantser is a person who lets her character runs ahead and then writes whatever they tell her too write.
But, I can’t say I am a plotter either. A plotter is a writer who knows their story and has set up the action and path ahead of time.
Me…I’m a thinker, and imaginer, a daydreamer with an idea that wants to be written; But with no idea where it will take me until I think about it a lot, every waking and sleeping moment. If my characters start talking to me I tell them to ‘shut up I’m thinking.’
If you have been following my Blog this month, you would have seen me writing about David Mamet’s Masterclass.com course. He said that a plot is as simple as getting from point A to point B.
Example: I need to go to the store. I need bacon and eggs. To get to the store I need to do a few things before I leave the house, getting dressed, finding the keys, locking the doors…etc. I could just drive there with no trouble, but…what kind of story is that.
The story needs conflict/drama. Just driving into town and grabbing bread and eggs and coming home is boring.
The drama/conflict will happen once I turn on my car. Something will happen to stop my character from making this an easy trip. The story will be about her trying to get to the store. She can’t change direction or it will be a different confusing story. She needs to keep on track no matter what is thrown in front of her. This character needs to get to the store
To make sure my character doesn’t walk back in the house and have a bowl of cereal. I need to get her in the car and drive away from the house and have car trouble at the halfway point. She will make a decision to keep heading to the store. She can stop at the local auto shop and they can come get her car.
My character’s internal goal is hunger. Her external goal is that she needs food in the house.
I may change up the story by having her get something to eat at a local restaurant, while she waits for her car. But… She will not give up that goal of getting eggs and bread. She still needs to eat tomorrow.
This is the bones of the story. So much can happen, I can’t change what my character wants; food, in her belly and in her fridge.
I tend to rehash ideas over and over; turning them upside down and inside out, until they click.
Time to go back to my story. I left my character sitting in a hot car.
“I always used to tell my kids- they’d say -‘ dad where’d you get your ideas, ‘I’d say, there’s this little Mexican guy in Encino, Ok and he drives in on weekends and sells them off the back of a truck’ we all have ideas all the time. Our minds, Swinburne, I believe said, is a raging fire. We have all these ideas all the time. What if that person turned around and said I love you…? what if we got a thing in the mail that said, he’s not your real father..”
David Mamet used his life in Chicago. What can you use from your life? Your life is different, unique with your own experiences.
He admits he ‘wrote about the ‘underbelly’ of life’. His life in Chicago.
He isn’t interested in themes. He is interested in telling a story. He said, “no one ever left a great play humming a theme”
He said, “a good writer kept what a bad writer threw out”
“If it doesn’t make sense- work it though,-and see where it leads you”
He said that writing is like a dream, pick out in that dream what doesn’t belong. Then, focus on that thing that wasn’t supposed to be there.