Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the month “July, 2016”

Recent quotes about writing from Aaron Sorkin

  • Intention and obstacle is everything. Intention and obstacle is what makes it drama. Somebody wants the money, they want the girl, they want to get to Philadelphia; it doesn’t matter, they just need a strong intention, and then there needs to be a formidable obstacle. The tactic that your protagonist (or protagonists) use to overcome that obstacle is going to be your story. That’s what you’re gonna hang everything on. Without intention and obstacle, you’re coming dangerously close to finger painting.
  • One of the biggest mistakes rookie screenwriters make is not having a strong intention or obstacle. The drive shaft of a car, beautiful leather seats, a fantastic sound system, a really cool paint job but the car isn’t going to move forward if the car doesn’t have a strong intention or obstacle.
  • David Mamet have written some excellent essays on this subject. You can get lost in the weeds if you sit down and try to create an entire biography for your character. If this is what they were like when they were six years old, and this is what they did when they were seven years old, and they scraped their knee when they were eight years old. Your character, assuming your character is 50 years old, was never six years old, or seven years old or eight years old. Your character was born the moment the curtain goes up, the moment the movie begins, the moment the television show begins, and your character dies as soon as it’s over. Your character only becomes seven years old when they say, “Well when I was seven years old, I fell in a well, and ever since then I’ve had terrible claustrophobia. Okay?
  • Characters and people aren’t the same thing. They only look alike.
  • I write a lot of drafts of screenplays and plays. I keep writing and I keep writing; what I try to do at the beginning is just get to the end. Once I’ve gotten to the end, I know a lot more about the piece, and I’m able to go back to the beginning and touch stuff that never turned into anything, and highlight things that are going to become important later on. And I go back, and I keep doing that, and I keep doing that, and I’ll retype the whole script, over and over again, just to make things sharper and sharper. That’s for movies and plays. In television, there just isn’t that kind of time. In television, I have to write a 55-minute movie every nine days, so we shoot my first draft.
  • I assume that the people who watch movies and television shows are at least as smart as the people who make movies and television shows. If the dialogue makes you sit forward a little, and listen a little bit more, that’s a good thing. It makes the audience active in the experience.
  • When it comes to screenwriting or television writing, there are real rules, and there are fake rules. In 1970, a CBS executive famously said that there are four things you’ll never see on television: a Jewish person, a divorced person, a person from New York City, or a person with a mustache. Obviously, that CBS executive had no idea what he was talking about, and those are the fake rules.  The real rules can be found in Aristotle’s Poetics.



Social Media Grief

I’m not writing about tragedies any more on my social media.

Last week, we had a terrorist attack in Nice, France, an attempted coup in Turkey and police officers gunned down in Baton Rouge.  All three events are heartbreaking, senseless and have lit up social media with people discussing them, mourning the losses, and asking what can we do.

I didn’t write about any of them.

I was upset as each one happened.  I was crushed to see the loss of life, the heartbreak of those who lost loved ones, the hate that drives these events, but I didn’t write about them.  I have written about previous things in the past, expressing condolences, support, and the like.  However, in the end, none of that matters.

Je suis Charlie, remember the fallen, black lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter, and on and on and on.

It feels as if these things are happening with more regularity.  I don’t know if that’s true or if it is because we have the 24 hour cable news monster to be fed, and politicians who are using and exploiting these tragedies for their own purposes.  They’ve become political.  If you express sadness for one tragedy and not their other, it makes you part of one group, so you must not like the other group.  Why didn’t you comment on these deaths?  Are some people’s lives worth more than others?  Do you not care about the people with the brown skins or the black skins or the yellow skins or the white skins?


I don’t want my social media experience to be that of endlessly talking about the tragedies in the world.  It’s not that I don’t care, or they don’t touch me, but that I add nothing to the discussion, my comments on it are beneath negligible and help no one.


When I see people using these events to attack other people, to call into question their beliefs and demand a kind of emotional consistency, it actually makes it all that much worse.

These things are horrible enough.  We need to stop being horrible about them.

Instead, if you can do something, do it.  And that is what I will do from now on.


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