Jot is Moving to Three Rivers!

For the past two weeks I promised there would be an update about the fall installment of Jot. It says it all in the title, but we are headed out of Grand Rapids.

First, we should note that the plan is to head back to Baker Book House in the spring. We love Baker. It provides a tremendous environment for the Jot Conference. This change is because we were approached (and had been thinking about holding a conference elsewhere to get to know more Michigan writers) not because we were dissatisfied with anything Baker has done.

So why move?

Conferences, just like writers, need to grow. They need to stretch and try new things. Part of the move to Three Rivers, Michigan is because we’ll have the opportunity to connect with other writers and hold a conference in one of the best used/rare/independent bookstores in the state. It is also the first place that I, Bob Evenhouse, fell in love with reading and dreamed about writing someday. In part, it’s responsible for the Weaklings and the Jot Conference.

I know what some of you are thinking. How far away is it? When is it? Does it cost money now? Why should I make the drive? Your head is swimming. We’ll address some of these questions below. We are always open to feed back here or on our Facebook page.

Where is Three Rivers?

If you head on US 131 South, you’ll run right into it. Once on 131, you’ll turn on about three roads. So if you are directionally challenged, fear not! The address is Lowry’s Books, 22 North Main Street, Three Rivers, MI 49093 and it’s exactly a one hour seventeen minute drive from Baker to Lowry’s.

When is it?

Saturday, September 12th, from 6-10PM. This will give you the morning and afternoon to explore the quaint downtown and get lost in the bookstore.

Why should you make the trip?

For the same reasons we are. One, it’s still Jot, a free one night writers conference. Three Rivers harbors a quaint down town with many shops to explore. There are coffee shops, fair trade stores, and hidden-gem restaurants. Looking for a writer’s day? This is the perfect opportunity.

What is Lowry’s Books and More?

Lowry’s is amazing. I almost wrote that I “could spend hours there” but I’ll be honest. I do spend hours there. When my wife and I leave my kids with my parents and say we’ll be back in thirty minutes, they know that means three hours. I swear there’s a wormhole that opens up and sucks you in. The bookstore has literally hundreds of thousands of books. I’ll post pictures and a video soon, but it reminds me of the wand shop in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone just to give you a visual – endless piles of books to be explored.

So we implore you to join us. As writers we know the importance of time. But we also know the importance of a new adventure, new opportunities, and the thrill and energy they can bring to your work.

Hope to see you there.

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The One Thing Every Writer Needs To Be A Success

Over the last decade or so, I’ve written tens of thousands of words. Every once in a while I think how Charles Dickens or Ernest Hemingway might have felt about the tools the writer has today. Were they alive my excuses for not finishing a project on time would fall flat and, in regards to Mr. Hemingway for sure, they might even punch me in the face.

Today, the writer has thousands of tools. Occasionally, I get distracted by the sheer volume. I think, maybe if I have XYZ tool then, for sure, I’ll become a much better writer! This, as you know, is foolishness.

The one resource that has never failed to get me going or keep me focused is my writers group, the Weaklings. They are my comrades in arms pushing me forward when I need to press onward. They are my refuge and friend in the foxhole, when the charge ahead is becoming too much. They never cease to be present and check in.

DSCN1688Sure, that program can instantly create an amazing outline. But can it read the manuscript for plot holes? Paying for that writer’s magazine can help find a list of agents, but can it connect you with one? Also, what software out there will tell you gently, with a firm voice and warmth in their eyes that what you are writing is not up to snuff and you’ll have to give the draft another go?

People are essential. It’s one of the reasons we created Jot. No, it might be the reason. We realized that we have a connected group helping each other through writing quagmires. But other’s do not. We wanted to create a space where that is possible.

To those who consistently attend Jot, thank you. But I ask something of you. How about step out and be bold. If you don’t have a writer’s group, why not try to create one there, on the spot?

Sharing your work is not a sure way to become a New York Times Bestseller. But, it is a sure way to grow as a writer and lighten the load. They may even buy one of your books if you work hard enough to finish one.

How has a writing confidant helped you grow?

Check in later in June for details about the next Jot Coming in September!

What Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters

Hello Jotters! We are less than two weeks away from Jot 3.

The Weaklings could not be more excited about the latest addition of Jot. Not only do we have an excellent line up of presenters, but are offering a free poetry workshop byMatthew Landrum, Poetry Editor of Structo Magazine (limited spaces available).

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Thomas McClurg. He’s a local indie author and is presenting on the topic of screenwriting.

1. I assume most of our attendees are book writers (fiction, nonfiction, memoir etc.) or poets. Tell me why you think Jot attendees should consider taking a stab at screen writing.

Short answer: Because I think it’s a fascinating discipline. I find the act of creating scenes and characters with words and imagining that they are being translated into a film by actors and directors to be a treat for the imagination. Doubly so for me because I have a great love of movies.

On a more practical side, I think the act of studying any discipline related to writing, be it fiction, non fiction, stageplays, screenplays, etc… is beneficial. They all have things that can help inform us on the discipline we love most, whatever that might be. You never know what might inspire you.

2. For novelists, there are staple books that all writers should read (Elements of Style, Bird by Bird, etc.). What books should screenwriters be reading?

The “Hollywood Standard” would be the only absolute must I can think of. Formatting is huge for screenplays. The book goes through in detail what the formatting requirements are for screenwriting.

“Save the Cat” is a highly regarded book on the topic. I personally enjoyed reading one by the name of “Your Screenplay Sucks” and the less provocative sounding “The Writer’s Guide to Writing Your Screenplay”

3. What are some of the amateur mistakes a beginning screenwriter can make?

Being to wordy and writing like a novel. Novelistic writing will bloat your screenplay. Whittling things down to the barest and brightest of words is a big challenge. And then not understanding formatting. Formatting errors are the surest way to draw attention to the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing.

4. If a Jot attendee wanted to submit a screenplay, where do you think they should start?

It’s a very closed industry. Networking is huge, huge, huge. I would suggest taking courses somewhere. Chances are the instructors were in the business at one point (or still are) and can point you in the right direction. Outside of that realm, there are tons of competitions and festivals where people in the industry are looking for quality work. For example, a competition I entered had as the top prize the screenplay being optioned to agents and producers (along with $10,000.00)

And as extreme as it sounds, moving to LA. is another way. It’s cliche to say that someone packed their bags and moved to California to become a movie star, but that happens, for all parts of the industry, screenwriters included, because that’s where the industry is, that’s where the movers and shakers are.

5. What movies should I watch to see good examples of excellent screenwriting?

Bad movies don’t get made from good screenplays and good movies don’t get made from bad screenplays. Simple as that. There’s a lot more to it, quality actors and directors play enormous roles, but the screenplay still has to be solid.

Take any critically acclaimed film and there’s a good chance the screenplay is worth reading. Fun thing about screenwriting is you can read bunches of scripts online for free. www.simplyscripts.com http://www.script-o-rama.com are two huge databases of screenplays. They are generally quick reads and there’s no better way to learn then to just read the scripts to your favorite movies.

Please post any questions for Thomas below, or seek him out at the conference.

See you Friday March 14th!