Go Into The Story Resource: Black List Writers on the Craft

Some of Hollywood’s top screenwriters share insights from my interviews.

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On May 16, 2019, Go Into The Story turned 11 years old — you can read the very first blog post here. I led with this paragraph:

Welcome to Go Into The Story! Right now, it’s nothing but a humble, threadbare blog, but I hope it will evolve into an active resource for aspiring screenwriters, as well as a community for anyone interested in storytelling and the creative life.

And evolve it did! To the point where it was recently named “Best of the Best” Scriptwriting Website in the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Best Websites for Writers list.

To celebrate 11 years of blogging about screenwriting, writing, Hollywood, movies, TV, and the creative life, each day in May, I’m going to feature a piece of Go Into The Story trivia, plus a writing resource you can find in the site’s archives. This is not an exercise in self-congratulations so much as I figured readers could use some tips about how to best use the site. With — to date — 26,423 articles and over 100 archive topics, there is a LOT of content here. Hopefully, these posts for the next 31 days will clue in more recent followers and remind long-time readers about resources you can use to facilitate deepening your understanding of the writing craft.

Today’s trivia: Before I stumbled into screenwriting, music was my creative passion. After I got my Masters degree from Yale, I took a year off to see what I could do as a singer-songwriter. That led to a seven-year stint playing music for a living in Aspen, Colorado and Southern California during which time I opened for John Denver, Jimmy Buffett, Poco, John Prine, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, and performed at the Telluride Bluegrass festival.

Songwriters tell stories, so it shouldn’t be surprising that one series I’ve run from time to time on the blog is Songwriters On Songwriting. Check it out. Probably some of your favorite musicians featured there.

Today’s Go Into The Story resource: Black List Writers on the Craft.

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During the last ten years, I have interviewed 54 writers whose scripts have landed on the annual Black List. That represents a whole lot of insight into the craft of screenwriting by contemporary Hollywood writers. So I went through all of those interviews and aggregated that wisdom into some series focusing on specific areas of the craft. Here are links to each of those series:

How do you come up with story concepts?

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 1) — Waiting for inspiration to strike

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 2) — Reading to surface story concepts

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 3) — Sourcing story ideas from the real world

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 4) — Finding inspiration for story concepts from feelings

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 5) — Using questions as a starting point for generating story ideas

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 6) — Assessing and developing story ideas

Black List writers on the craft: Story Concepts (Part 7) — Honing one’s skill at generating and developing story ideas

What aspects of story prep do you devote the most time and focus to?

Black List writers on the craft: Story Prep (Part 1) — Research

Black List writers on the craft: Story Prep (Part 2) — Characters as the focal point of prep

Black List writers on the craft: Story Prep (Part 3) — Not using an outline as part of prep process

Black List writers on the craft: Story Prep (Part 4) — “Preliminary” outlines

Black List writers on the craft: Story Prep (Part 5) — Working with an extensive outline

Black List writers on the craft: Story Prep (Part 6) — Comprehensive approach to story prep

How do you develop your characters?

Black List writers on the craft: Characters (Part 1) — Real people

Black List writers on the craft: Characters (Part 2) — Brainstorming and asking questions

Black List writers on the craft: Characters (Part 3) — Biography

Black List writers on the craft: Characters (Part 4) — Finding a character’s voice

Black List writers on the craft: Characters (Part 5) — Insider Tips

How do you understand and work with the concept of ‘theme’?

Black List writers on the craft: Theme (Part 1) — What is theme?

Black List writers on the craft: Theme (Part 2) — Begin the story-crafting process with theme

Black List writers on the craft: Theme (Part 3) — Discover theme during the writing process

Black List writers on the craft: Theme (Part 4) — Not come off as “preachy”

Black List writers on the craft: Theme (Part 5) — Being personal

Each day this month, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for supporting Go Into The Story. I’d love to hear from you in RESPONSES. When did you start following the blog? What are your favorite features? And as always, if you have any suggestions, feel free to suggest away.

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