We somehow assembled this power-panel of professional creatives during an interview session last year, and just uncovered a gem of a discussion between them on the topic of stories, specifically, why you should write one. Read the quotable transcript below or take five minutes to watch the video interview.
The discussion features some of our favorite writers from various backgrounds. Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling suspense author, comic book writer, and playwright and teacher. “V-Wars,” a Netflix series based on Maberry’s hugely popular comic series by the same name, debuts toward the end of the year. Jeanne V. Bowerman is a screenwriter, Editor-in-Chief at Script Magazine, senior editor at Writer's Digest and founder of the very popular #ScriptChat. And Doug Richardson has done a bit of both writing books and screenplays including “Die Hard 2,” “Bad Boys,” and “Hostage.” Put the three of them together, and you get magic!
Jonathan Maberry (JM): Writing stories of any kind has been one of our ways of buffering ourselves against the real world as well as dealing with the real world. These fantastical stories go way back. The earliest things we shared were stories around campfires and so on. They partly help us take the real-world issues, we can put them in a story, give it a better third act, give it a resolution that’s more satisfying to us, as opposed to seeing it unfold day after day without any clear resolution. We get to put the resolution in the story, and we also get to put ourselves more directly in that story so that we get a chance to confront those situations, have agency over what’s going on and then be part of the solution. Storytelling isn’t just fantasy. It’s our way of making sense of the world in which we live, and that’s always been the case.
Doug Richardson (DR): And then sometimes when you write it down, and you’re Jonathan Maberry, people buy millions of them! And, it’s awesome for us to read those.
Jeanne V. Bowerman (JB): It’s kind of a way to play God. You’re recreating the world in a way that entertains or moves people, or just pulls them completely out of their reality and allows them to just escape what is happening in their everyday life, things that they can’t control, and just sink into this little imaginary world. Or, big imaginary world!
DR: You know, I can only speak personally why I chose screenplays because I was a movie brat. I loved movies. I loved everything about movies. Movies spoke to me. I began thinking in movies. I studied movies. I went to school about movies. Writing screenplays is a natural outgrowth of that thing I love. When you have a passion for something, and you want to be involved in something, and you want to do something, you want to make movies, you do what you can to make movies. Writing screenplays is about that. It’s being a filmmaker. There are so many other things, where you damn the odds in life. You talk about going back to the campfire. Mankind has always damned the odds to succeed at something. Writing screenplays is no different than that. Making movies is no different than that. And the other side of that is if you do succeed in that, and you do get there, the payoff is extraordinary. It’s incredibly satisfying to get a movie made and have it come out well, and that’s worth the try.
JB: And I just believe people should go after their dream. If this is really your dream, and this is what you want to do, the only way you’re going to achieve your dream is if you try. Even if you don’t end up getting produced, and don’t end up having that screenwriting success that you thought you’d have, you still know at the end of the day like, my biggest fear is laying in my death bed saying ‘what if,’ and I don’t want to ever say ‘what if.’ But I also think it’s good to be practical. So if you already have a screenplay that’s a really great story and it’s sitting on your hard drive, why not then write it as a novel, so that at least people are reading your stories, and you’re at least feeling validated that you’re moving people with your words.
JM: If you feel the urge to create, you need to create, because otherwise, you create this dissatisfaction within yourself. That you have this story that you want to tell and you’re not telling it because you’re afraid. Fear is not part of any successful person’s business plan. Fear it what keeps us from trying. When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea that it was going to sell. I had been a nonfiction guy for 25 years. I wrote a novel just because I wanted to write a novel on a subject that I hadn’t seen covered by anyone else. I did it for fun, but then I figured, why not try to get an agent? Who says that I can’t? If you’re an unpublished author, there’s no proof at all that you can’t be the next big thing. So why not give it a shot? And that became my business plan. Why not? Why not someone who loves it and puts their heart into it? Go ahead and try it, and sometimes that works out.
DR: Those are my favorite three words. It should be on a t-shirt. Why not me? Seriously. Why not me?
JM: And it’s not an arrogance thing. It’s an optimism thing.
DR: Totally. It’s optimistic. It’s hope, it’s trying hard and doing your best. It happens to people. People do succeed. Why not me?
JB: Let’s make those t-shirts.
DR: I’m going to copyright it, and then I’ll make the money off of it.
JM: Make sure I get a hat.
Courtney Meznarich, Director of Community Outreach