Writer’s Desk: Write, Write, Talk, Write, Get Lucky

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Among the many questions that young writers have, besides “How do you make a living at it?”, is what they should do and what should they read to help them hone their craft.
There is no good answer. But embedding yourself in an ecstatically committed community of writers or at least people who love writing is a good way to start.
It has been a long time since I dared reread any of the wish-fulfillment stories I scribbled in my lonely teenage notebooks, but I suspect if I did, they’d contain something a little like this: You’re a freewheeling political reporter on assignment on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean, covering a tech conference full of Ukrainian models, when Joss Whedon calls and asks if you’ve ever thought of writing for television. Of course you have, but only in the way that you’ve thought of being an astronaut. Six weeks later you’re in California, sitting in your first writers’ room, on Whedon’s new sci-fi show for HBO, The Nevers, and it turns out that the evenings you spent at college arguing about Buffy with your best friends were a better use of your time than you realized…
Sometimes writers get lucky. Very lucky. But for that luck to mean something, they have to have spent years preparing. Even if that means spending years writing, debating, and absorbing cultish fan-fiction. Whatever it is, commit yourself totally. It helps to be prepared.

New on DVD: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Alexis Denisof  and Amy Acker play Benedick and Beatrice in Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing'
Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker play Benedick and Beatrice in Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

muchadoaboutnothing-dvdThe best of this week’s DVD releases comes to us courtesy of Joss Whedon. His bright and sparkling black-and-white adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing differs from most other takes on Shakespeare’s comedies for actually being…funny.

My full review is at Film Journal International:

While cleaving away some of Shakespeare’s more dragging plot points, Whedon hews to the original text. He also lets the plot breathe and move at its own quick pace, trusting the audience not to require the anxious pushiness of Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 version…

You can watch the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Alexis Denisof  and Amy Acker play Benedick and Beatrice in Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing'
Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker play Benedick and Beatrice in Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

much-ado-about-nothing-posterWhen Joss Whedon finished with his 2012 megahit The Avengers, he had some time off. How to fill that time? Well, obviously, make another movie! He brought a passel of actors over to his Spanish-style mansion and spent a few weeks filming a modern-dress, black-and-white adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing on his own dime. The result is a superbly fresh and winsome comedy that opens on Friday.

My full review is at Film Journal International; here’s part of it:

While cleaving away some of Shakespeare’s more dragging plot points, Whedon hews to the original text. He also lets the plot breathe and move at its own quick pace, trusting the audience not to require the anxious pushiness of Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 version. This refusal to juice the material with gimmickry pays out handsomely, as Whedon’s crackerjack cast, drawn mainly from his troupe of TV actors, spins as fine a web of delicate comedy as will grace movie screens this year…

My interview with Whedon ran last year; you can read that here.

You can watch the trailer here: