All posts by gbaugh

Plotting your story is hard work

Lesson 8 David Mamet Plot

“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.

Lesson 6

Masterclass dot com Lesson 7 Character, David Mamet

“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 character use the jargon of his or her profession.




This lesson had me a little confused with ‘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.

are you a plotter or a pantser?

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 a pantser. 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 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.

Photo #14354
Taken by Krzysztof Puszczyński Tookapic.comdrama

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.

Lesson 6 David Mamet’s Story Ideas


David Mamet lesson #6 Story Ideas

David Mamet’s

“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’s

David Mamet used his life in Chicago. What can you use from your life? Your life is different, unique with your own experiences.   

David Mamet’s

He admits he ‘wrote about the ‘underbelly’ of life’. His life in Chicago.


David Mamet’s


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.

I found this interesting PDF : Notes from a David Mamet workshop

If you are interested in David Mamet’s Masterclass click here.

Cloned Monkey

I was reading the news concerning cloned monkeys. And I got a chill.   Will this open up the ability of labs to test and torture animals because they don’t believe them to be unique? Oh, wait they do that now.

Animals used in research is important and they suffer for us, we need to ensure they are only used after weighing all the information.

I read that cloning will help with the testing of cancer and Alzheimer’s. I don’t see how.  It will take years and then what?

“This would enable scientists to tweak genes the monkeys have that are linked to human disease, and then monitor how this alters the animals’ biology, comparing it against animals that are genetically identical except for the alterations. It could accelerate the hunt for genes and processes that go wrong in these diseases, and ways to correct them, the team says.”~   

Screen shot of youtube video

Ethical questions

But….Will we be back to blinding rabbits because they can be cloned and will be considered disposable for profit?

University of Wisconsin-Madison was running tests on cats, drilling holes in their heads to improve human hearing, that testing was shut down in 2015.

“UW has used domestic cats in such experiments for more than 30 years.”

“…the agriculture department fined the university $35,000 last year (2014) for seven separate violations of the Animal Welfare Act, citing instances of animal negligence.”


Money, Money, Money makes the profit outweigh life. All and every life has a dollar sign next to it. I don’t see these animals being protected. They will be hidden behind closed doors.

I don’t believe anyone, who will be on the receiving end of accolades and profit; now or later, will stop the unethical treatment of any living creature, if they can gain something from it.

I can only hope these living test tube monkeys will be treated well and not live their lives out in a lab and worse.

I am not sure about that…

Right now, me, you,  all of us put our lives; our families, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters in the hands of a health industry that profits if we stay us sick….Just saying.

Birthday cake and animal tracks in the snow

Raspberry chocolate Torte

This morning, the first thing I saw out my window was a line of animal tracks on the deck.

Animal tracks in the snow

A Raccoon or a Possum had walked up the steps. The animal had stayed near the railing until it reached the top of the stairs, from there it moved to its right; which brought it to the door leading into my bedroom.

possum or raccoon tracks

This past summer a Raccoon had tried to rip off that door by sticking its claws into the wood around the glass. I  taped it back in place and had been meaning to fix it with caulking. But I never got around to it. (Bad me)

After today’s  animal peeked into the window, he turned back the way he came and strolled to the other end of the deck. Yesterday afternoon I had put out some stale bread for the birds. The animal had a snack, then he wandered off the deck using the same path he used to come onto the deck.

Vistor on Deck

I just missed meeting him.

By the time I grabbed my camera the tracks had already started to fill in. The winds were blowing snow off the roof, which mixed with flurries that were adding even more snow to the deck as I tried to photograph the tracks.

I went back inside, warmed up my toes and had a cup of coffee, while my husband surprised me with a birthday cake.

Raspberry Chocolate Torte

We don’t have a local bakery so the cakes are from Swiss Maid Bakery in Harvard, Illinois and our little store in town keeps them frozen.  So, my cake was frozen and …well, I was impatient and the knife got stuck.  It eventually defrosted.

My Birthday Cake

When the rain comes down in January

Day 22:

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” ~Bob Marley

My head is stuffed. I have a cold coming on, or I am reacting to the ‘interesting ‘ weather pattern. I heard on the ‘news’ that the temps had hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 °C)

Um! Hey guys. It’s January. What up!  

Right now, rains are pounding my roof. I heard that the weather would be turning colder – hitting the freezing mark tomorrow. And snow is rolling towards us from the west. &

I guess we are lucky, so far, that all this rain could be snow.

On the other hand, this is January and the ground in January is frozen solid to a depth of 3 feet or more.

So not so lucky.

All that rain coming down ‘will not’ be absorbed by the ground; instead, it will move along the surface causing a lot of flooding.

What will happen is in the middle of the night waters will rush over the farm fields from the west toward the east, until they hit the road, once there, they will blast past me along the north edge where the water will collect along the wetlands area.

Man the boats! But wait…

With the temps dropping all that water will freeze on the roads, in the fields,- ice rinks in the making.

So if you live in the mid-west, be careful driving and walking.


And yes! A Blah! Blah! Day.

Today I am reading: The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach by Robin Behn & Chas Twichell

Looking Into The Fog

It’s close to dusk. The world was silent and still, the air had gotten heavier. Warm air mixed with the frozen ground, dredging up that heavy fog that was rolling in, slowly, it connected with every twig, tree, and blade of grass.


Hidden by the fog

I had a headache and my joints ached with its dampness. I stood out on the wet deck; all the snow had melted off the house, so that incessant drip, drip, dripping had ceased.

I was looking through the lenses of my Nikon. I changed the settings to see if the pictures would show something else, something clearer once I downloaded them on to my computer.


The air was silent and still, every so often a car swished past along the road. That sound conveyed an image to my mind and not to my eyes. Somewhere in the trees, I heard a wet sneeze. A deer? A coyote? I saw nothing past the fog. January-February is mating season for coyotes. They had done me well this year, they kept the rats under control. Rats are very brazen rodents, they will argue their point until I walk away, and I will still hear then squeaking out reasons, why I had interfered with their lives and how I should move on. ‘Go on! get out of here,’ they would say.

This past week, I haven’t heard the coyote’s distinct howling and yipping. But I have seen their tracks as they moved here and there as they followed the scent of a rodent under the snow or a rabbit whose tracks would cross back and forth, just a wild as the coyotes.

Animal tracks in the snow

Yesterday afternoon, three deer wandered around the yard, they kicked at the ground, and ate roots, fallen fruit and pulled at stray apples that still clung to the wet branches. They stared at the house when they heard my voice. Ready without any warning, to bolt back into the trees.

Fall of 2017

Near sundown, I am taking pictures of fog. I felt like I was being watched. I could smell someone’s dryer sheets. The aroma of my chicken baking in the oven drifted out and moved within the fog.

The fog will carry those scents to the farmers across the field of fog, it will mingle and connect with others; it might even connect with a hungry animal’s salivary glands. I stepped back inside, and locked the door; then I took a picture from the inside out.


Fog Seen from inside out

Lesson #5 Dramatic rules David Mamet

Lesson #5 Dramatic rules (con’d) this video is 8:20 (eight minutes and twenty-seconds)

David Mamet starts this fifth video, the second on Dramatic rules with this line.


“The rules to me are very, very simple. …”

That sentence is a declarative sentence that drew me in, I wanted to know those rules.

  1. Tell the story
  2. Start at the beginning
  3. Go until you get to the end
  4. Don’t stop
  5. Be interesting
  6. Make sure everything is on the line

There was another part of this video where David Mamet mentions, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse a pamphlet of tips for playwriting. He said that we could find that pamphlet online. I am searching out the pamphlet I haven’t found it yet. Here are a couple of the rules that David talks about.

  1. Save your biggest laugh for the end of the second act
  2. At beginning of the second act remind the audience who they love and who hate
  3. Stop giving your best lines to the secondary characters

If you are interested in this course, maybe just curious here is the link to, or you can click on David Mamet at the top left sidebar.

Happy Birthday, Rebecca!

Today, January 19, 2018, is my daughter’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Rebecca!


She was on the go even before she was born. During my pregnancy, she was impatient and wanted to hurry up and get on with her life. I had to keep off my feet for seven long months. My dog, Buddy a  120 pound an Alaskan Malamute mix,  stayed by my side the whole time; when Rebecca was born then he made it his job to protect her.

When she was around six months, I had placed her in a walker with a pillow to keep her comfortable and upright. As soon as I turned my back, her toes touched the ground, and she stood up, tossed away the pillow and charged through the house. Then right down the stairs. After being checked out at the ER, she was back in the walker, with all the doors closed and locked (I saw her turning door knobs).

Instead of diving down the stairs, she shot around the house. Sticking her feet in the dog’s food, then having him lick it off her toes, to pulling out drawers, pulling things off of table tops – she stood on her tiptoes trying to get a good look around,  zeroed on her goal and took off running. I gave up and took the walker away from her.

She loved laying on her blanket on the floor, where Buddy laid next to her. He never moved from her side, even as she held on to his tongue, shared his food, and crawled on his back grabbing handfuls of hair as she jumped up and down on his back. She crawled after him at top speed. He taught her to stand up; she held onto his fur as he slowly stood up taking her with him.

By the time she was seven months she was tottering around the house. At eight months she had decided to widen her horizons. While her father was watching her, she walked out the door. Buddy started whining. I freaked. I ran after her. Rebecca ran down the block, laughing. Totally unafraid of the dark.

She knew what she liked and didn’t. Pink was her color any other would bring out an intense yowling.

When we hand fed orphaned robins she didn’t hesitate to try to taste the worms.

When she was three she learned how to play chess with her brother.

She carried a bag of toys so she had something to play with; she liked to read bedtime stories


She is no longer that little girl. She is an amazing woman.  She hasn’t stopped running after what she wants. Her enthusiasm is never-ending

She has helped a lot of people and has a very big heart. She has never lost that need to explore.

I love you my daughter, and I wish you health, wealth and happiness; may you never lose that enthusiasm to see what is around the corner or behind each closed-door.

Rebecca Animal rescue

You will always be my little girl.

Love Mom