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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.