I have an email from a teacher in Australia who wants very much to teach SPEAK. She needs our help. The books have already been purchased, but the principal is having second thoughts about putting the book in curriculum.
She writes: …could you please help me with some real examples of ‘Speak’ being used effectively in the classroom and/or pass on my email to someone who may be able to help me?
If you would like to help this teacher, send me your email address to laurie AT writerlady DOT com. I’ll pass it on to her. Thanks!
I had another email which kept me pondering all weekend. The person heard me speak at the SCBWI conference in Michigan a few weeks ago and asked if I really meant it when I said writers should turn off the television.
The answer is no. And the answer is yes.
My primary point was this: if you are trying to be a writer, and if you find yourself complaining that you don’t have enough time to write, then honestly examine how much time you watch TV. The average American watches 4.5 hours of television a day!. If you want to write and you fall in that category, it’s a no-brainer. Turn off the television. Start writing. End of problem.
Now if you like television, and you are satisfied with the amount of time you’re writing and quality of your work, by all means, keep watching.
Some people see their television and movie-watching as a critical part of becoming better writers. They feel that the exposure to Story structure (Plot A, Plot B, Plot C, character arcs intersecting, etc.) that they get out of watching well-written shows helps their writing. I’ve had folks argue with me that they must watch TV to write books and write them well enough to be published.
Are you sure you want my honest opinion here?
I think that kind of viewing will help if you are trying to write a screenplay or break into television writing. But it’s not going to do much for your book writing.
I see a consistent weakness in the writing of young people and writers who don’t read much. They fumble with narrative description. They are great at dialog and they often get the bones of their story laid out well. But the actual description of scene action, setting, the observation of small details which reflect the emotional journey of the character – all that stuff is not up to snuff.
You learn how to write those elements of Story by reading. They are not part of “live action” storytelling – the kind we see on screens and stage. Television and film are different media than books. That’s why books don’t translate onto the screen without a great deal of changes.
TV and film are just as valid as books when it comes to storytelling. I don’t think TV is evil. I see nothing wrong with being a fan of a show and really enjoying your time watching it. (Though I do believe American Idol is an utter waste of time.) There are plenty of shows and movies I’ve enjoyed. My larger point is this: if you think that watching TV will help you write a great book….. well, good luck with that. I don’t think it works.
(Full disclosure – I tracked my TV viewing this week. I watched approximately two hours of news. BH and I watched most of the first Godfather movie Friday night, and some of the Ohio State vs. Penn State football game Saturday. I watched NFL football yesterday while I worked on thank-you notes and started watching a (Netflix) movie with Number One Son that was called on account of homework. And I read three books.)
What is your opinion about this?