Making A Good Writer Great

A Creativity Workbook for Screenwriters

by Linda Seger

February, 2000

A brief review of the best-selling author's latest book.

Can creativity be taught? Best-selling author Linda Seger thinks so and has forged a notable career doing just that by inspiring screenwriters to Hollywood success.

While never having been a credited screenwriter herself, she created the job "script consultant" nearly 20 years ago and has consulted on more than 2,0000 film and TV projects.

Her newest book, Making a Good Writer Great (Silman-James Press, Los Angeles), defines, analyzes and instills the elusive creative process in a way that transforms "wannabes" into working screenwriters.

Here is a book that lives up to its title. Making A Good Writer Great truly helps you affirm your artistic voice–that special something that makes a script identifiable and uniquely yours. The book is about learning to express your creative potential. It reaches beyond craft related principles into the experience and process of writing.

"Get in the habit of trying to see and understand something new every day," advises Seger, in one of her many kick-start exercises:


Within the next few weeks, do something you've never done before. . . Find out at least five or ten pieces of information that you would never have known. . . As soon as your experience is over, write it down exactly as it happened. The dialogue, the look of the place, how many people were there, what they were wearing, any conflicts you noticed, where the power structure was. Write how you felt . . . Look at what you've written. Did you capture the experience? What's good about it? Would it be more dramatic if you changed it?. . . Create several scenes based on what you've written .. . Share your scene with a friend, a writing partner, or a writing group. Do they feel you captured the experience on the page? Did they learn anything surprising and new from your experiences.

Seger helps you find what fuels your most productive writing, and how to push your mind to another creative level. She shows how to master the skill of sensation-thinking, mine the riches of your dreams, and even encourages you to explore your darker side to learn why "your shadow" is essential to your success.

In the chapter, Push Your Mind to Another Creative Level, Seger explains the differences between convergent and divergent thinking. To write great screenplays, Seger believes, you need to employ them both.

"Convergent thinking is necessary to create well-researched scripts that ring true … .Screenwriters must know that the Empire State Building is in New York City if they want King Kong to scale it. But they must use divergent thinking when figuring out how to get King Kong from the jungle to the city. Both forms of thinking are learnable. .. The more you open your mind to entertain a flood of solutions to any given problem, regardless of their probabilities or logic, the stronger your divergent thinking skills will become."

Linda Seger encourages her readers to use the energy of both to create new forms.

"When we are constantly brought back into chaos, what we do makes no sense. We remain in confusion. But when we understand that the creative process is always in flux and learn to live with the tension between chaos and order, we are better able to illuminate reality.

"I believe that the Creative spirit and the holy Spirit are integrally connected to each other, that the source of our creativity is the Spirit that is within us and also transcends us," Seger says.

"Just as this Spirit is implicit in any action that is kind, compassionate, just, fair, and loving, so also is this Spirit implicit in the creative acts that tell the truth, express the transcendent, give hope, and deeply care about humanity. The writer, when striving for the highest and deepest level, allows the Spirit to manifest itself within his or her work."

Making A Good Writer Great seems to un-stick the soul from its mundane world to run free with a pure creative presence. Every serious writer of screenplays or manuscripts should have a bedside copy, for those moments when one needs a gentle kick in the spirit. –The Authorlink Editors

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