word craft


Writing Tip: Eugene Yelchin

I’ve invit­ed a group of top-notch writ­ers to share their writ­ing tips with you this sum­mer. Look for a new bit of learned expe­ri­ence each Tuesday.

Eugene Yelchin: The most use­ful writ­ing advice came to me from Frank Daniel, a Czech-Amer­i­can screen­writer, and my writ­ing teacher at the grad­u­ate film school at the USC. He was teach­ing us how to write screen­plays, but I have been apply­ing his wis­dom to writ­ing fic­tion as well. The advice has to do with the often-lengthy peri­od of revi­sion. The steps to his advice are as follows:

  1. You came up with an idea for your sto­ry. The idea is so bril­liant, so unique, and so impor­tant that you have no doubt you will cre­ate a mas­ter­piece. Your final work will change you, change oth­ers, and change the world.
  2. Take a sheet of paper and write down how you feel about your idea, why it is so bril­liant and so impor­tant. Don’t be shy— no one will read it—put down your feel­ings as hon­est­ly as you can. Fold the sheet of paper, put it in the enve­lope, seal it, and store it out of sight.
  3. A year or two lat­er, your atti­tude is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. You are exhaust­ed by the revi­sions. The idea seems stu­pid and use­less. What was good in it you had man­aged to kill by your inep­ti­tude and lack of tal­ent. You are ready to quit.
  4. Open the sealed enve­lope and read what you wrote before you began writ­ing. Your for­mer excite­ment will sur­prise you. It might make you feel a lit­tle ashamed for being such a cow­ard. You see what was so spe­cial about your idea that got lost in the process.
  5. Next, at least in the­o­ry, you will return to the writ­ing desk with the renewed energy.

Try this at home. It saved a cou­ple of my books which were lat­er suc­cess­ful­ly pub­lished from cer­tain aban­don­ment dur­ing the process.

Please vis­it Eugene Yelchin’s web­site, where you can learn more about his books, illus­tra­tion, fine art, and char­ac­ter development.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts