I may not have been able to complete my screenplay within 30 days, but studying Aristotle’s Poetics has given me tremendous insights and new ideas. I believe I can parlay what I learned into new ways to approach my screenplays.
In short, I am motivated. Energized.
And grateful to author Michael Tierno for writing his book. I finished it today, right on time.
One of the most helpful tips Tierno provided came in the final pages of his book:
Lastly, write from your soul. Your real soul. As a story analyst, I have rarely seen really “bad” scripts come through the pipeline. I would simply call them really mediocre. I’m starting to believe that the proliferation of mediocrity has to do more with the fact that many writers are trying to second-guess the Hollywood system, which is a very tough system to write for indeed. That’s why I tell writers, especially those trying to break in, write from your soul. That way, the powers that be may sense something they like in your script, something they want to see. The trick to writing from your soul is the essence of the Poetics. You must communicate your soul to an audience and move that audience, as a whole.
Another thing the author wrote that pleased me greatly is found in Chapter 30:
Dramatic story is, indeed, like a song. All intense dramatic stories build toward the hero’s change in fortune both in a linear and songlike cumulative fashion with “refrains” as variations and repetitions of the ACTION-IDEA. Perhaps a better analogy is to say that a dramatic story resembles a song or symphony but still imitates life. We have much to learn from musical composition in terms of dramatic storytelling…
This is of particular interest to me because it’s something I discovered myself earlier this year while listening to one of Dave Brubeck’s classic jazz songs.
Tierno’s insights about musical composition appeals to me on a more visceral, selfish level, as well: I write while listening to music. Always. Preferably with headphones or earbuds to block out all outside, ambient sounds. Music has always been a prime motivator for me. I draw inspiration from it to infuse the words and emotions I use in my writing. So to discover that Tierno considers storytelling to be a kind of music only validates what I’ve known all along.
Yes, I learned much from my month-long study of Aristotle’s Poetics, which I will now apply to my screenwriting.