National Screenwriters Day

January 5 we celebrate the folks who write movies, television shows, video games, and other such. Although in one sense a writer is a writer, when you write for the screen, there are different challenges. When you write a novel, everything is done through the power of words and imagination. In writing for the screen, words and visuals work together to make the story. Also, of course, the several media all require something different from the writer. Writing a television show with established characters is very different from a standalone two hour movie, which is very different again from the complexities of a video game. Another difference is that the writer is not writing to please him or herself, but must work closely with others to create a shared vision for what the finished story will look like, and what the budget can handle.

Those who write for the screen face some other challenges. One of them is that the story must fit the rhythm of the show, particularly for television. Each show is put together in a different way. For instance, a particular show may have a few minute teaser before the beginning credits, then each act will be a certain length between commercials. The writer must get the story across in approximately 42 minutes for an hour length show, and approximately 21 minutes for a half hour show and most of that will be dialog. There is also a particular style of putting the story together using particular words and ways of writing. For instance, you may begin a scene with the words INTERIOR SUSIE’S LIVING ROOM.

So next time you watch your favorite movie or television show, give a thought to the talented folks whose imagination created the story that gives us so many hours of enjoyment.

Quotes about screenwriting

To make a great film you need three things – the script, the script and the script.–Alfred Hitchcock

Scripts are what matter. If you get the foundations right and then you get the right ingredients on top, you stand a shot… but if you get those foundations wrong, then you absolutely don’t stand a shot. It’s very rare–almost never–that a good film gets made from a bad screenplay.–Tim Bevan

There’s nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.–Richard Attenborough

Film’s thought of as a director’s medium because the director creates the end product that appears on the screen. It’s that stupid auteur theory again, that the director is the author of the film. But what does the director shoot—the telephone book? Writers became much more important when sound came in, but they’ve had to put up a valiant fight to get the credit they deserve.–Billy Wilder

Once you crack the script, everything else follows.–Ridley Scott

Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.–George Cukor

What has always been at the heart of film making was the value of a script. It was really the writer who could make or break a film.–Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

There’s no question that a great script is absolutely essential, maybe the essential thing for a movie to succeed.–Sydney Pollack

Screenwriting is the most prized of all the cinematic arts. Actually, it isn’t, but it should be.–Hugh Laurie

I could be just a writer very easily. I am not a writer. I am a screenwriter, which is half a filmmaker. … But it is not an art form, because screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.–Paul Schrader

You can dress it up, but it comes down to the fact that a movie is only as good as its script.–Curtis Hanson

The script, I always believe, is the foundation of everything.–Ewan McGregor

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As we begin a new year, I thought it might be interesting to look at the month itself. As the second month of winter (northern hemisphere) or summer (southern hemisphere), January is either the coldest month of the year, or the warmest. Where I am right now, it is definitely cold, and the temperatures don’t look like going up anytime soon. Brr!

The month is associated with the god Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys; doorways were often named after him. The worship of Janus traditionally dated back to Romulus and a period even before the actual founding of the city of Rome. There were many jani (i.e., ceremonial gateways) in Rome. These usually freestanding structures were used for symbolically auspicious entrances or exits. The beginning of the day, month, and year, both calendrical and agricultural, were sacred to him.

Conventional wisdom says that January was named for Janus, It was the first month of the Roman calendar, as it is of our current one. It was added to the Roman calendar around 700 BCE, replacing March as the first month of the year around 450 BCE.

In January, besides New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate such holidays as Buffet Day (2), Drinking Straw Day (3), Trivia Day (4), Bird Day (5), Epiphany (6), and Bobblehead Day (7), during just the first week. It is Book Blitz Month, Get A Balanced Life Month, International Brain Teaser Month, Hot Tea Month, Polka Music Month, and Soup Month to name a few.

So stay warm (or cool) and celebrate this first month of the year.

Quotes about January

January has only one thing to be said for it: it is followed by February. Nothing so well becomes its passing.–Katherine Tynan

The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.–Vita Sackville-West

January is the quietest month in the garden. … But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.  The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants.  The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.–Rosalie Muller Wright

Bare branches of each tree on this chilly January morn look so cold so forlorn. Gray skies dip ever so low left from yesterday’s dusting of snow. Yet in the heart of each tree waiting for each who wait to see new life as warm sun and breeze will blow, like magic, unlock springs sap to flow, buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.–Nelda Hartmann

To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.–Jean-Paul Sartre

It is deep January. The sky is hard. The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.- Wallace Stevens

The Old Year has gone.  Let the dead past bury its own dead.  The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.  All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!–Edward Payson Powell

Come, ye cold winds, at January’s call,
On whistling wings, and with white flakes bestrew
The earth.–John Ruskin

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World Day of Peace

January 1 is designated at the World Day of Peace. It is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church and was established in 1967 by Pope Paul IV. Generally, the pope uses it to give a message about social issues of the day. In years past, some of the messages have been entitled, “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace,” “To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” “Non-violence, a Style of Politics for Peace,” and the 2018 message, “Migrants and Refugees, Men and Women in Search of Peace.”

Although specifically a Catholic holy day, the first day of the year is an appropriate one to think about peace. Our world can be a very troubled place, and to set aside at least one day to think about peace is a good thing.

If this seems like a hopeless thing, r a dream, there are ways to start small to promote peace. Here are a few ideas.

  1. Work on your own inner peace. Peace starts within. Become aware of your mood, and direct it towards peacefulness. Meditate, or stop to breathe deeply or focus your thoughts.
  2. Look for ways to spread kindness to friends, family, coworkers, or even strangers. Pay attention to what would be helpful to those closest to you.
  3. Try to balance work and life. Don’t spend so much time making money that you forget to live.
  4. Watch out for prejudice. We all have them, but the more we can eliminate prejudice and see people as simply people, the more we will treat folks as human beings.
  5. Choose your attitude. We may have no control over circumstances, but we do over how we react to them. If we react with calmness, it will add to the peace in the area.

May today and all of this year bring you peace.

Quotes about peace

The arms race can kill, though the weapons themselves may never be used … by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.–Vatican statement to the U.N., 1976

The basis of world peace is the teaching which runs through almost all the great religions of the world. “Love they neighbor as thyself.”–Eleanor Roosevelt

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.–David Friedman

Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.–Mahatma Gandhi

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.–Dwight David Eisenhower

Five enemies of peace inhabit with us–avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.–Petrarch

I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle you kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I ain’t a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.–Woody Guthrie

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.–Thich Nhat Hanh

There is no way to peace, peace is the way.–A. J. Muste

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