Update on “You, The Movie”

Monday, 4:41pm
Reno, NV
Overcast, cold and yet oh, so toasty here in my office…


Just a quick note here about how the stories are going.

Mostly, I’m very impressed. Those of you who kept to the 3 lines really worked at it, and that’s the idea. You learn to be concise, to stay on target, and still deliver a good story.

For those who had to go over 3 lines: Some very nice stories… but they can all be trimmed to 3 lines. Trust me on this.

I had an idea of how to help: Check out “haiku” on Wikipedia. It’s the Japanese poetry form that is strictly limited to 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. No more, no less. Forced to adhere to such limititations, the resulting Zen poetry is crushingly beautiful. In the West, we tend to go more for story lines (rather than koan-type mysticism)… but it’s still the 5/7/5 form.

The marketing equivalent: Adwords. You have strict character limits for each line (though you can do less, but never more). We’ve taken to calling it “Adwords haiku” because of that.

Few Westerners have been forced to “write inside the lines” like this before, and we tend to struggle with limits. But I’m telling you, it’s worth doing.

As you listen to great storytellers, notice how economical they are with words. They find just the exact right word, or short phrase, to nail the mood, direction and plot. This is “power words” in action.

You may scratch your head, at first, looking at haiku. But notice how long the entry is in Wikipedia… and know that it’s long because people care. And it’s good stuff.

You’re about to be enlightened in ways you won’t understand for a long time yet.

Side note #1: Kudo’s to Moffatt for his insight on the exercise. People who collect and tell stories lead better lives… and when they sell, they almost always do a better job of it. Stories are about the human experience, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about — broadening and enjoying the experience you’re having, as a human.

Side note #2: Karen, is that YOU? In Kiwi land? (Of course, I know it is. No one else knows the piano disaster story.)

How are you? I tried to find you in the phone book during a short lay-over in NZ last year, but you weren’t listed. Damn. I’d love to catch up. The boys have my private email — just shoot Kevin a note. Hope all is well.

Great story, too. Hard to believe we survived the chaos of those times…

Side note #3: I hope everyone is reading all the stories. When you hang out with writers, you don’t really need Hollywood at all, you know. Even a relatively uneventful evening at the hotel bar with a snaggle of wordsmiths will put the entire acadamy awards to shame…

Side note #4: Dean, I recognized your KKK story. Made me laugh out loud. And would somebody translate Javier’s comment for me? I just wanna make sure it’s not dirty or anything…

Side note #5: Weird things happen when you collect stories, too. “John” in the comments told a nice one about some train tracks in his home town that disappeared… a nearly identical experience to one I had. I grew up ninety feet from a Sierra Pacific line, and the house rattled twice a day for fifty years. I both love and am comforted by the sounds of trains… but one day I went home to visit Pop and the tracks were gone. Just gone. Big weedy path where they once proudly laid, like a scar running through my old stomping grounds. Whew. So much of the world that surrounded me as I grew up is now alive only in memory and photos, always at risk to wash away like tears in rain…

Stay frosty,


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"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • I was siting in a graveyard park with a friend of mine and he started talking about telecanesis. I had never heard of it, but the vivid way he described it actually got me high. I came crashing back down to earth, though, when a tramp came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy a sock.

  • leo says:


    This is fantastic!

    I went into this little experiment of yours thinking that long copy is always better…

    And it is, BUT:

    What you helped me figure out is the difference between “long copy” and “bloated copy”…

    Note to self: must be quality quantity, not just quantity…


    “So now we all know what’s under the hood, why don’t we see what’s behind the wheel,” was all it took to provoke him…

    Later, veering onto that damned gravel covered shoulder to pass him once and for all, I swore I had the upper hand, I swore I actually had him.

    The last thing that I remember before waking-up was the deafening sound of “Halo 8 track 4” and this feeling that I can only describe as elation’s evil counter-part…

  • Sarah says:

    The Doctor in his most solemn voice told me… he has two years more or less, his heart is worn out… from beating to fast.

    What would we do now, his life is only half, done…40 is to early to think of things like this,and the transplant that we sold everything for our ray of hope, he didn’t qualify now it is gone like a whisp of smoke.

    So we cried a little… and worried lots but decided to live with a new plan and do what we needed to, and hard as it is at times…we have made it work 8 years longer than they said was possible.

  • This exercise is really awesome for building writing and sadly enough, many people here did not take seriously enough the limitations in which to do the job.

    I will not participate here only because my english writing skills are poor – it is a foreign language for me. But I can testify it really does work to write within strict boundaries. For instance, I once proposed to a literary website a new section called “300 touches”, where all stories should be told with no more than 300 characters (including spaces!). The section was a success at the time and many master storytellers could tell a whole story using 50 or an even shorter set of characters.

    Besides making you a better writter… It is fun. Give it a taste!

  • dmh says:

    By the light of a full moon that blazes like the sun, we splash and paddle a rickety canoe across the murky depths of the alligator-infested Amazon.

    Suddenly, a harsh slapping and splashing sound erupts as something unseen hits and rocks the canoe so hard that it shakes my heart and freezes my soul.

    “Probably just a river dolphin…” my guide pretends.

    I pretend to believe him and paddle on… river dolphins are good luck after all!

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