Authors Lab Weekly Update

Cohort Letter

News for the Week of September 11


1. Working Social: Our next night out — which will include social time plus workshopping — is Thursday, September 28, 6:30-8:30 pm at Kathie’s, 6601 Sardis Road.
2. Thinking about 2018: It’s time to have a chat about how we might extend your coaching and A-Lab support into 2018, should you need that. Give me a shout with an available time to chat, please.
3. Writing advice from Stephen King: A movie version of King’s It (scary clown — I’m not going!) made a ton of money in its opening week, so we’ll tap him for this week’s advice.
“In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night — six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight — so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.” — Stephen King
Write on,


Robert McKee’s 5 Tips for Writing Great Stories

1. Characters must be complex.

The storytelling and the character complexity go hand in hand but you can’t have great storytelling of that kind unless the characters are complex because if the characters are not complex then the storytelling becomes repetitious.

2. Creativity means making choices.

The essence of creativity is choice-making — you want your mind as open as possible, generating 10, 20, 30 different ways to write the same scene so that you can go through all of those couple of dozen variations thinking…in order to get really great choices you have to have a lot of voices.

3. Avoid cliché.

But the great writers only concentrate on the relationship between them and their audience and they want to express their knowledge of life uniquely. They don’t have to resort to difference for the sake of difference, and a lot of bad filmmakers do. Look at long-form television. We’re witnessing some of the greatest writing ever in America. And these people who are writing these great series are not looking over their shoulder. They are out there exploring and doing things. A hundred hours of drama, doing things that no one has ever attempted before… The complexity of character in these great long-form series is infinitely greater than anything that was ever done in film, ever.

4. Don’t bore the audience: Hook, hold, reward.

You have to hook them, hold them, and reward them with a meaningful emotional experience of whatever kind. And that is the obligation. Hook them, hold them, and reward them for their money, the two hours of life that they gave you, and that’s true no matter what you are writing–comedy, drama, and everything in between.

5. Story is expression, not reinvention.

Stories are metaphors for life. And until life changes in some profound way, storytelling will be storytelling will be storytelling forever. And every time somebody thinks that some anti-structure or minimalism or technology or special effects is going to change the fundamental way we tell stories, they’re blind, they just don’t get it, they don’t understand… The real problem is not reinventing. The real problem is expressing what’s already there.

Next Authors Lab Events

September 28: Cohort Working Social, 6:30 pm

Kathie’s Place. Social + Workshopping

Sat., October 14: Monthly Cohort Gathering

9:45 am: Doors Open

10:00 am-1:00 pm: Workshop: Finding Your Voice, with Pat MacEnulty

1:00-2:00 pm: Lunch

2:00-4:00 pm: Workshopping

Not a current cohort member? Curious About Authors Lab?

Authors Lab is a Charlotte Lit program designed to help you to get that book out of your head and onto paper. Our model: Coaching + Classes + Community = Creative Success.

Authors Lab is an open-ended program: new cohorts begin in January, and you stay in for as long as you need. When you join, you will meet with your coach to decide your target time frame, usually from 9 to 24 months. At the end of your chosen time frame you will have either a completed first draft, or, if you began the year with a completed first draft, a final draft that is ready for submission or self-publication.

Learn more about Authors Lab here.