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 Message
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 1/21/1997 5:46:00 AM  

Message 1 in thread 

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Jean S McKnight <105513.130@compuserve.com> asks:
> I know that you have the overall arc of the series mapped out,
> but when you write an individual script, do you follow a
> "template" of some sort and create the story to fit it, or does
> the story just spring full-blown into your head, a la Mozart? Do
> you, for example, decide ahead of time how many scenes there will
> be and where the characters will be at the end of each? If there
> is no set method that you use, could you, as a kindness to the
> adoring masses of lesser mortals, try for a moment to imagine
> that you are not a genius, and you must write a story from
> scratch, by lunch, or its no beans for you? What would you start
> with? Would you begin with a framework/checklist of some sort, or
> just set a character down and see what he does?

It's a combination of things, and very hard to explain. I come
to a given episode knowing I have to do X...X might be "this is the one
where I have to plant the info about the giant space ferrets," or "this
is the one where Lennier gets nailed in bed by Londo." Then I kind of
check in on the characters in my head...I know what they've been going
through, and I see how they're feeling about it, where they are, what's
going on...then I sit down and "watch" the events in my head like
watching a movie, or watching the news. Some scenes are vaguer than
others, so I keep replaying it in my head until I can see the whole
thing...then I write it all down.

In the latter case you mention, having nothing, and being under
the gun, I always, *always* start with character rather than a series
of incidents or plot points. Because character is the key to
everything: plot, structure, all of it. All you need to know is who
your character is, what he wants, how far he will go to get it, and how
far somebody else will go to stop him. The rest follows naturally.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 1/21/1997 5:50:00 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Twain was the same way; he said, "You should never start writing
a work until you have finished it to your satisfaction."

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 1/21/1997 5:50:00 PM  

Message 3 in thread 

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Jean S McKnight <105513.130@compuserve.com> asks:
> Is this cerebral cineplexing a learnable skill, and if so do you
> have any suggestions as to how to learn it?

I dunno...I've always been this way, seeing it in my head.
Helps to have been a solitary-minded kid, I suppose, always off by
myself. When I first began to read novels, I saw them in my head in
full technicolor with surround sound. Especially with Bradbury's
stuff, which is full of imagery; I can still summon up my mind's eye
view of Usher 2, the Martian deserts with their silver windsailing
vessels, the race for the ship in "The Golden Apples of the Sun"...it's
the way I'm hardwired.

Which is why my scripts for B5 (and most shows) are *very*
detailed; I don't just write action and dialogue, I go shot-by-shot,
close-ups, fades, juxtaposition of shots, lighting, sound, framing of
actors, all of it, to try and most precisely recreate the script (and
the episode) to look like what I saw in my head.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 1/22/1997 5:32:00 AM  

Message 4 in thread 

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MrsPeel <103112.2040@compuserve.com> asks:
> The next time I went in to pitch, I purposely structured my ideas
> around the thought, What do we need to say about the characters?

And therein, I think, lay the problem....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 1/22/1997 5:46:00 PM  

Message 5 in thread 

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(blocked) asks:
> Are you a fan of his?

Yeah, I've always enjoyed Bradbury's work, though more the
earlier stuff than the later stuff.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 1/30/1997 2:42:00 PM  

Message 6 in thread 

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Jean S McKnight <105513.130@compuserve.com> asks:
> Can you recommend any books on writing?

I don't keep up with the general writing books, I'm afraid.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 2/9/1997 5:31:00 PM  

Message 7 in thread 

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Jean S McKnight <105513.130@compuserve.com> asks:
> Have you ever used a pen name?

Nope. Don't believe in it, at least for me.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 2/14/1997 2:19:00 PM  

Message 8 in thread 

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Jean S McKnight <105513.130@compuserve.com> asks:
> I was just wondering what sort of software you use to write
> scripts, and if you use something different for novels?

I use Movie Master for scripts; it's a formatting program only.
It's quirky and buggy as hell, but it's what I learned to use at
Universal, and it's functional. I use Wordstar for regular prose.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 2/16/1997 11:48:00 AM  

Message 9 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

I think a lot of SF writers stayed with it because of
familiarity. SF writers, and folks like me (still not entirely sure if
I belong in that category), were invariably the first ones on our block
to have personal computers...back when that meant a Kaypro II with 64K
ram and 128K floppies and NO internal hard drive, and an 8" green
monitor. (I still have mine, incidentally, I'm too sentimental to
throw it away.)

Back then, Wordstar was pretty much the way to go. That's what
I learned on, and that's why I use it. I like the WYSIWYG approach,
and it does feel like a typewriter.

The WS for Windows was a nightmare, and I deleted it instantly.
Is there any indication that they're going to be trying again any time
soon? I'd like to use the capability that comes with windows, but I'm
too short on time to afford the learning curve for another software
system.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Writing
      To: CIS  
    Date: 2/17/1997 1:43:00 PM  

Message 10 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

I use WS 7.0.

jms

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