Menu 

25 Things Writers Should Know About Creating Mystery

Novelist and screenwriter Chuck Wendig covers a few things to keep in mind when writing a mystery.

Rear Window

1. YOUR STORY MUST BE AN INCOMPLETE EQUATION

A complete equation is 4 + 5 = 9. It’s simple. Clean. And it’s already resolved. Stories are not simple. They are not clean. And we most certainly don’t want to read stories that have already been resolved. We read stories that evolve and evade as we read them. Their uncertainty feels present — though we know the story will finish by its end, a good story lets us — or demands that we — forget that. A good story traps us in the moment and compels us by its incompleteness. The equation then becomes X + 5 = 9, and we are driven to solve for X. It is the X that haunts us. It is the emptiness of that variable we hope to fill.

2. EVERY STORY IS A MYSTERY STORY

This isn’t a list about murder mysteries. This is a list about every story out there. All stories need unanswered questions. All stories demand mysteries to engage our desperate need to know. We flip the little obsessive dipswitches in the circuit boards of our reader’s mind by presenting enigmas and perplexities. Why is our lead character so damaged? What’s in the strange mirrored box? How will they escape the den of ninja grizzlies? Storytelling is in many ways the act of positing questions and then exploring the permutations of that question before finally giving in and providing an answer.

3. YOUR STORY IS THE OPPOSITE OF THE NEWS

A news story is upfront. Tells the facts. “Woman wins the Moon Lottery.” “Man sodomized by a zoo tapir.” “New Jersey smells like musty tampons, says mayor.” (Musty Tampons was my nickname in an old Steve Winwood cover band.) A journalist is tasked to answer the cardinal questions (the five W’s and the one H): who, what, where, when, why, and how. But your job as a storyteller is to make the audience ask these questions and then bark a sinister laugh as you choose not to answer them all. Oh, you answer some of them. But one or two remain open, empty. Unanswered variables. Incomplete equations.

Terrible Minds | Read the Full Article

The Clear Career Path Laid out by David Lynch’s pre-Eraserhead shorts

Mike D’Angelo examines David Lynch’s pre-Eraserhead work for clues on how the auteur’s mind works.

Til presse møde på Gammel strand, hvor han udstiller.

No masterpiece arrives completely out of nowhere. People like to point to Orson Welles as an example of someone who set the world on fire with his first film, but Welles had made his reputation as a creative genius, both in the theater and on the radio, before he exposed the first frame of Citizen Kane. Steven Spielberg spent years shooting 8mm movies in his backyard before breaking into the business. David Fincher, like many other directors who arrived in the 1990s, cut his teeth on music videos. (And the Alien franchise.) The details vary, but rest assured that a lot of gruntwork and experimentation has preceded anything capable of inspiring awe, whether or not the public ever sees the fruits of that labor.

All the same, it’s hard to imagine a film as singular as Eraserhead evolving from an artist’s discipline. It seems like something that just exploded onto the screen straight from David Lynch’s head. And while the world is definitely a better place because Lynch continued working, it’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine how Eraserhead would be perceived had he disappeared immediately afterward, never to be heard from again. As it is, he’s always been admirably closemouthed, revealing little about his creative process—no commentaries, evasive interviews—so fans have to glean what they can from the films themselves. In the case of Eraserhead, that means examining the five shorts that preceded it (four of which are included as supplements on the newly released Criterion edition) for clues about how his mind works.

The Dissolve | Read the Full Article

The Notorious History of Drunken Hollywood

Larry Getlen digs through Hollywood’s sordid history looking at some legendary Tinseltown drunks.

High Society

By the early 1930s, Herman J. Mankiewicz was a screenwriting genius who had secretly helped construct classic films such as “Monkey Business” and “Duck Soup” by the Marx Brothers and “The Wizard of Oz.”

He was also, according to a new book by author Mark Bailey, a raging drunk who picked fights everywhere he went and insulted everyone from studio execs to actors in his films.

Mankiewicz had once been friends with newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and attended many a party at San Simeon, the publisher’s infamous mansion. The relationship ended, however, when Hearst banned Mankiewicz after the screenwriter kept trying to get Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies, drunk.

Mankiewicz sought revenge. He began writing a script about a newspaper mogul and used everything he knew about Hearst to humiliate him, including basing one character on Davies in a harshly negative portrait and even appropriating what he knew to be Hearst’s special nickname for Davies’ clitoris: Rosebud.

The script, of course, was “Citizen Kane,” which would become a cinematic landmark and win Mankiewicz an Oscar.

Hearst, though, got his own revenge several years later. After Mankiewicz crashed into another car while drunk — a non-story, since no one was hurt — it became front-page news in all of Hearst’s newspapers, destroying the writer’s reputation.

NY Post | Read the Full Article

Learn the Basics of Photography Using a Flow Chart

Mark Wallace introduces the “Where To Start Chart”. The Where To Start Chart is a tool designed to help beginning photographers navigate the settings on their camera. The chart is an interactive PDF file with links to hours of free photography tutorials. If you get to a spot and are unsure what something means, just click the box to watch a video about that topic.

Click on the graphic below to view the PDF (via SnapFactory and LifeHacker)

Photography-Where-to-Start

Newer Posts
Older Posts