Peggy Bechko’s World: Smarten Up, Write in Longhand

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by Peggy Bechko

Writing By Hand Can Make You Smarter.

True?

Not true?

Turns out there’s a lot of info out there to support true.

So I’m not old fashioned and crotchety because I still prefer to write some things by hand. But wait, don’t some groups advocate not even teaching cursive writing?

Big mistake.  Just check out  a study by Pam Mueller, a Princeton psychologygraduate student when this article was written back in July 2015.According to the study folks who took notes in class longhand retained more and comprehend more than their fellow students pecking away at computer keyboards and actually taking more notes because they could take them faster.

So, what does that mean for writers? Put away your computer and grab a pen and notebook when in the planning stages of your next project. Whether article with research or novel (also with research – just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean you don’t have to have the facts straight) or screen script (ditto).

It appears that typing might be just fine once the writer is rolling, creating whatever it is they’re creating, but apparently writing notes longhand is a much better method to trigger memory and the synthesizing of collected information than typing or pecking at a phone screen.

Don’t believe it?  Then you might want to give it a try. I have over the years. Having written novels, published with major houses and optioned screen scripts in addition to articles and ghosting, I’ve tried almost every method of producing my work. I’ve tried every idea to try to shortcut the process, but there are some things that just don’t take kindly to short-cutting and memory and processing information are apparently two of those.

I mean, not only did those student in the study type notes much faster than they could write them, but it didn’t gain them anything. In fact, they lost ground against their longhand note-taking companions. Not only that, but they had less comprehension of what notes they did take. Not only that, but when they tried going back and studying the copious notes they’d taken on laptops, they actually did worse on the tests.

Hmmmm. Ever find yourself taking lots of notes from an  interview on your computer as a professional writer, feeling like you raced to keep up? Then, did you go back over your notes and nearly wonder who took them in the first place since you can’t remember what was said?

It seems like if you take the notes by hand, you’re more involved, more inside the subject matter.

My notes are a mess, my handwriting would probably get a ‘D’, but when I compare them to what I tried to take once up on a time on my computer when I read those notes they trigger memories and associations. I find myself more fully engaged and when the time comes to get it all down into a document, the flow is swift and smooth.

The long and the short of it is, keep writing. Keep writing by hand to focus the writer in you. Keep a notebook handy. (come on, you know you love thoseMoleskines anyway – and they come in cool colors and black too!).

There’s no doubt it works. Something about our brains… whatever… my creative partner Charlene Brash Sorensen and I create our outlines, plot ideas, scripts, even comic blocks for Planet Of The Eggs by hand on note paper before we even begin working with our comic creating software. Charlie prefers graph paper – I prefer lined.

Save the tech stuff or later. Start writing by hand.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. This post was originally published on her glorious blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page

Web Series: NIKKI & NORA

The Thin Man, only without the thin man. One of the best done indie web series we’ve seen:

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Created by Nancylee Myatt

More about Nikki & Nora

The Week at TVWriter™ – May 30, 2016

In case you’ve missed what’s happening at TVWriter™, the most popular blog posts during the week ending yesterday were:

Supernatural Season 1 Finale – Recap and Review

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Frank Spotnitz on Creating Complex TV Series

Diana Vacc Sees “Outlander” Episode 6 “Best Laid Schemes”

Peggy Bechko’s World of Conflict!

And our most visited permanent resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Teleplay

The Logline

THE BASICS OF TV WRITING: Overview

Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed. re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

Diana Vacc Sees “Money Monster”

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The summer movie season is in full swing. In keeping with current trends, it’s all about the blockbuster, so I found it refreshing to see a movie come out that focuses on real people (as opposed to superheroes) and situations that at least somewhat reflect what is truly going on in the world.

Instead of featuring Captain America or Batman, “Money Monster” follows the very human TV host Lee Gates (a businesslike George Clooney) and his Director Patty (the very worried Julie Roberts) as they are put in a very dangerous situation I won’t describe here (just to prove that I can avoid spoilers when I have to, really.)

THE GOOD:

  • With one exception that I’ll get to later, the writing by Jamie Linden, Alan Difore, and Jim Kouf is clever and full of surprises. What surprised me most were the comedic moments in this film, many of which I just plain wasn’t expecting. Even the dialogue in some of the more dramatic scenes is funny, and I particularly enjoyed the conclusion, when the reporters show the “social media memes” about what has just happened.
  • The directing by Jodi Foster was great. She leads her team to a fully realistic world of finance and finance reporting. Working without sweeping outdoor action scenes, the camera angles managed to be both striking and in-your-face intimate. And as a viewer bonus Foster manages to get Roberts’ and Clooney’s best performances in years. (Take that, Coen Brothers!)

THE BAD:

  • Not to spoil anything but the villain of the piece was generic and typical. It’s the 21st Century. We’ve already seen more baddies like this than we can count. C’mon, Jody, give us something more!

I recommend “Money Monster” as a rental and not for the movie theatre experience.

Happy Summer Movie Season!


Diana Vaccarelli is the TVWriter™ Critic-at-Large. Learn more about her HERE

Web Series: GRIDLOCKED

A show that really, really works, about freeways that don’t. Somewhere in here is the key to the future of creative transportation, or transportive creativity, or…something.

Enjoy! We here at TVWriter™ sure as hell did!

And here’s Episode 1

How to be a Unique Screenwriter

Some people say that the key to screenwriting success is to stick to the template established by other successful writers. “Don’t make waves.” “Don’t be original.” Time now to hear from someone who said “Stuff it!” to all that and, well, so far so good:

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How I Broke the Rules and Survived
by Craig D. Griffiths

ving a unique and compelling voice as a writer is something we all desire to have. Yet we are told (in forums and by so called gurus) that “We must follow the rules” to be a screenwriter, we must do everything exactly the same as everyone else.

People have looked at great screenwriting and found commonalities. However, commonality is not causality. Because if these common things are all that is needed to create a great script, writers wouldn’t be needed.

How the Rules came about

The rules came about by people looking at previous works and analyzing them to see what they could discover. (As far as I can see) Christopher Volger was credited with sending a memo that outlined some rules, which is what I think kicked off this entire rule concept.

This was intended as a way of quickly weeding out the vast number of bad scripts and making a studio’s workload less. It works, as bad writers do break these rules, but of course, so do some great writers.

People seem to point at the vast number of movies that comply with the rules, so therefore, the rules must be correct.

It is also a bit of a self-weeding garden, meaning that if everyone believes the rules must be followed, then all scripts and all movies would be following and complying with the rules.

The truth is, bad writing is just bad writing and squeezing it into some rules or structure would just make it well-structured bad writing, but there are commonalities between bad writing and good writing, which very few people are willing to admit or acknowledge.

As you can see by the graph above, Bad Writers and Great Writers don’t consider the rules when they are creating their work. They are focused on the work, but the only difference is that the great writers have craft and skill. It may be true that the rules outline the thousand-year-old patterns that have evolved in storytelling, but they are not rules. They are at best-accepted norms and as such are easy to recognise and are comfortable, but they are not mandatory, which is after all the definition of a rule.

What I have a problem with is people saying that things MUST happen or that you MUST never do something. Those are the rules that I think are wrong and don’t need repeating….

Read it all at Stage 32