Bob Gillen on Storytelling

Tag: John patrick Shanley (Page 1 of 2)

Be still. Write.

“Stop running. Write. Write about what you’re chasing. Write about what’s chasing you. Feel panic beckon but don’t give in. Be still. Write.”

Another encouraging tweet from author John Patrick Shanley.

boy with kite

A similar note of creative encouragement from YA author Maggie Stiefvater: “If you tell yourself you’re a winner, you know what kind of story you’re telling, and you will march toward that.” She notes that the story she was telling herself had to move from “loser” to “winner.”

This is the moment for us as writers to make a hard choice. Choose to be a winner. Be still. Write.


Look for Weight

“Sometimes I don’t have enough laundry to make the minimum weight at Drop Off. I look for stuff to wash. Same with Art. Look for weight, bro.” Playwright John Patrick Shanley.

This tweet showed up today on Twitter. Reminds me of my post from the other day. Weight counts, not volume. “…the plastic-foam peanuts authors sometimes toss into a story to give it volume, without realizing that they’re adding no weight.” That was an observation from NYT reviewer Jennifer Senior on the biography of Margaret Wise Brown.

“Look for weight, bro.”

Here are a few tips from writer  K. M. Weiland. While she’s talking about increasing word count in a skimpy novel, her advice is perfect for adding “weight” to the story. She suggests adding characters. Not for the sake of filling space. You want the characters to enhance the story with their own heft, their connections to the principal characters. “Never add a character just for the sake of adding him, but take a look at the needs of your story and sniff out any likely gaps where a new character could add dimension.”

Weiland also suggests adding dimension to existing characters. Deepen their relationships to the main characters. Or bring in an element of conflict – a strained relationship between characters, perhaps.


“What Are My Idiocies Now?”


Playwright John Patrick Shanley recently tweeted: “I think of my idiocies in times gone by, so clear to me now, invisible to me then. It makCloseup of The Trojan Womenes me wonder, what are my idiocies now?”

A writer wonders, ponders: what are my present idiocies? What flaws inhabit my personality today? What weaknesses can I explore and weave into my writing? Reflection. Insight. Courage.


Your Take is Genius

Here are a couple of recent tweets that inspired me. One from actor Christopher Walken, the other from playwright John Patrick Shanley. I hope they inspire you too.

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” Christopher Walken

“Were you miscast in your life? Should the part have gone to someone else who would’ve played it better? No, I tell you. Your take is genius.” John Patrick Shanley


Finding the way to greatness

I find the tweets of playwright John Patrick Shanley to be inspiring. Today’s tweet: “Martin Luther King found his mission and became a giant. Kids want to find their way not simply to prosperity, but to greatness. Help them.”


Worthy words for teachers and for storytellers. In story our kids will find their voices, and in their voices they will find their way to greatness.

Story is the message of giants.

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