From Diane - Founder of Pitch U:
Q: What happens when 3 of the best writing instructors in the GALAXY get together?
A: The Story Masters 4-day workshop! (It’s November 3 – 6, 2011. See you there!)
Diane’s Story: Back in the mid-80’s, before there was even a 1st edition of Chris’ book, there was a much-photocopied, faded, sideways and stapled “paper” by some guy named Vogler.
Writers passed it to each other, person-to-person, one bad copy after another, because that’s how profound his initial work on the Writer’s Journey was to us.
I have this paper. I was one of the people who passed it along.
It changed my writing and the way I think. And it helped me understand, finally, why the power of story seemed more important than anything else in the whole world when I was growing up. Still does.
Because of Chris Vogler, when people ask what I do, I tell them, “I am a Maker of Myth.” I’m proud to write popular fiction and I love accessing hundreds and thousands of years of storytelling.
I’m on the Writer’s Journey.
First: A Brief Look at How Chris Keeps Himself Busy
Christopher Vogler, founder of StoryTech consulting, has worked in Hollywood story departments as a story consultant since the 1980s and is recognized the world over for his ground-breaking work on the timeless mythic patterns still providing structure for modern novels and screenplays.
His first book, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, now in its 3rd edition, has been translated into a dozen languages and has influenced generations of filmmakers and storytellers in all media, from plays and novels to Broadway shows, TV commercials, political campaigns, and computer game scenarios.
His latest book, Memo from the Story Department: Secrets of Structure and Character, co-written with Columbia University film professor David McKenna, continues his efforts to excavate useful information from the storytellers and thinkers of the past.
He also brings to the table a wealth of practical knowledge from decades in the rigorous school of Hollywood studio story departments. DreamWorks, the Disney studios, and top talents like Will Smith and Darren Aronofsky seek out his counsel on their projects and he enjoys sharing his experience with all screenwriters and novelists.
“Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey is the Bible for screenwriters. I think it’s the best book on how to write a screenplay ever written.”
Darren Aronofsky (director of THE WRESTLER, Oscar-nominated director of BLACK SWAN)
About Memo from the Story Department: “Just read this and it’s already saved my ass. No sh-t, I needed a pitch for a rewrite and this book helped me crack it.”
Scott Silver (screenwriter of 8 Mile and Oscar-0nominated for THE FIGHTER)
Diane: This is the debut of Story Masters. How did it come about?
Chris: I’ve known and admired Donald Maass for years as we crossed paths at writing conferences across the country.
Turns out we have a mutual friend, New York-based story consultant David McKenna, with whom I co-authored my latest book, Memo from the Story Department. Don and David played poker together for years.
I was thrilled when Don suggested doing a three-person seminar with James Scott Bell. I met James a few months ago and we really hit it off, talking for hours about our shared interests and approaches to writing.
Lately I’ve seen the benefits of seminars where several experts come at the same subject from different perspectives.
Diane: Give us a taste of what to expect at Story Masters.
Chris: I’ll be presenting my myth-inspired “Hero’s Journey” framework for outlining stories, drawn from my first book, The Writer’s Journey, but there will be plenty of fresh material from my latest, Memo from the Story Department.
I pulled in concepts from early Greek theories about character and from a ground-breaking study of fairy-tale structure.
I get a kick out of talking about good old-fashioned showmanship and the rich tradition of vaudeville, which offers many practical lessons for designing an entertaining experience.
Diane: What do you like most about teaching writers?
Chris: Writers tend to be life-long learners and they just eat up information.
I enjoyed helping one author get published by showing him a couple of simple techniques for streamlining his writing and putting intriguing “buttons” at the ends of his chapters. He got the idea from one or two examples and exported it throughout the manuscript.
Diane: How should writers prepare in order to get the most out of Story Masters?
Chris: Prepare by reviewing your current project, maybe something you’re stuck on.
What to bring? An open mind. I figure we will all be swimming around in the warm currents of writerly enthusiasm day and night.
Diane: Is there anything you can share with us right now? An exercise, maybe?
Chris: Here’s a version of a short chapter from Memo from the Story Department on the question of “What is a scene?”
Download your FREE chapter from Chris!
Diane: Why should writers take advantage of the optional freelance editor appointments?
Chris: A good rule is “Never turn down a chance to interview,” and I would add, never miss a chance to practice pitching yourself and your ideas. You’ll learn a lot by just watching the facial expressions and body language of the editors or agents.
Diane: BONUS PITCH QUESTION: Is pitching easy or hard for you?
Chris: Pitching is a pretty natural activity for me – after all, it’s story-telling!
I like to start by making it personal, either relating something that happened to me and started me on the road to the project, or by asking some question to draw in the listener, like “Have you ever…?” (wished you could fly, looked for a lost love on the Internet, hoped for a second chance at life, found yourself in an airport wondering who around you could be a terrorist, wondered what happens when we die?) T
his approach makes the story in some way about the listener, inviting them to plug themselves into my story.
Diane: Thanks, Chris! Can’t wait to finally meet you in person.
Previously in this series:
- How to Be a Story Master by Literary Agent Donald Maass
- How Writers Learn to be Story Masters by James Scott Bell
- How to Have a Story Master In Your Court (Lorin Oberweger)
- A Story Master Where Narrative is King (Roman White)
- Coaching You to Be a Story Master Apprentice (Jason Sitzes)
- Journey to the Heart at the Story Masters Workshop (Brenda Windberg)