Greg Russo Shares Screenwriting Advice

typewriterWhat are your favorite movies? Your list can teach you a lot about storytelling.

Screenwriter Greg Russo is visiting the True Pictures offices for a month-long writing lab in February. Russo is a veteran screenwriter, tapped by Universal to adapt It Takes a Thief and Relativity acquired his pitch about the comic book series, Continuum.

To introduce Russo to our community, we’ve collected three pieces of writing advice from the screenwriter, collected from an inspiring roundtable discussion and an in-depth interview at Scott Myers’ “Go Into the Story” site.

1. Analyze your ten favorite movies: “You can learn everything you need to by buying the screenplays to your ten favorite films and studying what made them so effective on paper to begin with.”

2. Start by working on your characters“I now start with the character and build the plot around that person, tying everything into his or her journey.”

3. Rewrite as you write: “write five pages one day, next day go back and rewrite what you wrote, add five more, next day you go back, rewrite ten, and continue until you’re done.”

(Typewriter image via xlibber)

Free Classic Science Fiction Stories for Your Holiday Reading

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What stories are you most thankful that you discovered for your bookshelf last year? This week, readers around the world are sharing the books and writers that inspired them in 2013 at the #ReaderThanks Twitter hashtag.

Here at True Pictures, we spend a lot of time exploring classic science fiction stories. For your holiday reading pleasure, we’ve collected a few inspiring stories that we are thankful for this year. You can download a free digital book copy of the story or listen to a classic X Minus One radio drama edition of the story.

X Minus One was a radio show that ran from 1955 until 1958, sharing work by some of our greatest speculative fiction authors. Follow the links below to read or listen to three great stories…

The Old Time Radio Researchers Group has more about the show:

The stories for the show came from two of the most popular science fiction magazines at the time; Astounding and Galaxy. Adaptations of these stories were performed by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. They even wrote a few original stories of their own. The writers of the magazine stories were not well known then but now are the giants of today. These stories came from the minds of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Poul Anderson to name a few.

“Bad Medicine” by Robert Sheckley: Fearing for his sanity, a man buys a robot psychiatrist to help him cope with life. (MP3 edition, free eBook edition)

“The Tunnel Under The World” by Frederik Pohl: A man wakes up screaming every single day, eventually uncovering a mind-bending secret about his life. (free MP3 editon, free eBook edition)

“Project Mastodon” by Clifford D. Simak: A band of time travellers set up camp in the stone age and seek diplomatic immunity from the United States.  (MP3 edition, free eBook edition)

Free Philip K. Dick Stories for His Birthday

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Today is the 85th birthday of the late and great author, Philip K. Dick.

You should read every story in his Paycheck and Other Classic Stories collection, but you can sample his work online. If you follow the links below, you can read five free digital versions of Philip K. Dick stories from that collection at Project Gutenberg…

The Variable Man

Mr. Spaceship

The Defenders

The Gun

Piper in the Woods

In the introduction to Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, Dick described exactly why luminous concepts inspire us:

the true protagonist of a science fiction story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is *good* science fiction the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that the mind, like the author’s, begins to create.

Beyond science fiction, our world is filled with momentous ideas in psychology, physics, philosophy, theology and other fields. I have spent the last ten years writing about authors, creativity and inspiring ideas, but I joined True Pictures for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to lead a story investigation department and build a new online community.

In the passage quoted above, Dick paraphrased Dr. Willis McNelly, a California State University professor who loved these big ideas as well. With the help of a community of readers, McNelly wrote the Dune Encyclopedia about Frank Herbert’s legendary science fiction series.

Dick reminded me why community matters as you create stories or movies about life-changing ideas. He explained:

We who read science fiction (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

This blog will document our quest to discover the life-changing ideas at the foundation our films. I will edit this new site, featuring the work of great writers who explore these diverse disciplines.

The Big Idea

brainship

What is the best mind-bending concept you ever discovered in a book or movie?

Ever since I was a little kid, I obsessed over mind-bending ideas I discovered in books. In the introduction to Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, the great author Philip K. Dick described exactly why these luminous concepts inspire us:

the true protagonist of a science fiction story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is *good* science fiction the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that the mind, like the author’s, begins to create.

Beyond science fiction, our world is filled with momentous ideas in psychology, physics, philosophy, theology and other fields. I have spent the last ten years writing about authors, creativity and inspiring ideas, but I joined True Pictures for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to lead a story investigation department and build a new online community.

In the passage quoted above, Dick paraphrased Dr. Willis McNelly, a California State University professor who loved these big ideas as well. With the help of a community of readers, McNelly wrote the Dune Encyclopedia about Frank Herbert’s legendary science fiction series.

Dick reminded me why community matters as you create stories or movies about life-changing ideas. He explained:

We who read science fiction (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

This blog will document our quest to discover the life-changing ideas at the foundation our films. I will edit this new site, featuring the work of great writers who explore these diverse disciplines.

But we can’t do it alone. I look forward to sharing luminous concepts and learning along with you.

You should read every story in Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, but you can sample some of the stories online. If you follow the links below, you can read five free digital versions of Philip K. Dick stories from that collection at Project Gutenberg…

The Variable Man

Mr. Spaceship

The Defenders

The Gun

Piper in the Woods

(Image via “Mr. Spaceship“)