Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path to Success
Divine Arts, Los Angeles, CA, 2013
What’s your favorite film? A safe bet it’s an exciting story. You hold your breath, rooting for the hero, following the protagonist through all sorts of tough spots, until finally a breakthrough. The goal is reached.
Author Jen Grisanti argues, why can’t that protagonist be YOU? Reaching your goals both professionally and personally. The message of her new book: “You create your own vision.”
This book clearly has universal application. Grisanti draws parallels between the components of good fiction writing and the application of those same components to a reader’s own life story. Film and writing professionals will profit, recognizing fiction writing tools that will translate to their own work and lives. Any reader will benefit from applying her story tools to their own life.
Grisanti’s Own Story
Grisanti has spent most of her life immersed in story. First working with and mentored by Aaron Spelling, then as a television story executive, and now with her own consultancy teaching story to aspiring writers. Story is her life.
In Change Your Story, Change Your Life, the author reveals a rare personal vulnerability. Obstacles and heartbreaks pepper Grisanti’s life journey. She talks of a heartbreaking betrayal and divorce. She describes the shattering loss of her executive position, and the fear of going out on her own. She writes of her ongoing, hope-filled search for an enduring romantic love. And she accepts that she will most likely never bear a child of her own.
Yes, this characterizes many lives. Everyone suffers. Few, however, can discuss it with genuine sensibility. Or offer practical guidance on how to deal with it. Grisanti’s book embraces recognizing what’s really going on in our lives, both professionally and personally, and moving through it to achieve our goals.
Grisanti believes anyone can re-write their own story and come out a hero.
The key: “You are both the author and the hero of your story. You decide if it’s going to be a story worth telling.”
Change Your Story, Change Your Life provides ten chapters with a carefully laid out map for getting readers through their own life journey.
• Turning points
• Initial goals, new goals
• Dilemmas – how do past wounds influence which choices you make
• Putting your plan into action
• Embracing your turning points and facing your obstacles
• Identifying themes in your life
• “All is lost” moments: how hitting rock bottom can lead you to your goal
• Reaching your goal: you did it before, you can do it again
• Your new story
Each chapter contains an exercise to guide readers through an examination of their own journeys. Along the way, readers develop their own life summary line and story arc.
This book works. I didn’t just read it. I worked through all the exercises. They helped me clarify my thinking about my own experiences, my own goals, my own life. The exercises are not page filler. They invoke thought, introspection, a constructive process, with both professional and personal applications.
Change Your Story, Change Your Life is well worth the read. Grisanti’s inspiring words: “Create the story that you want your life to reflect.”
See Jen Grisanti’s website
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for the book.
Developing the Web Series Etiquette
Mildred Lewis and her writing partner Adam Fox collaborate on a web series titled Etiquette. “Both Adam and I were shocked,” Lewis says, “to find out how many people are passionate about etiquette. We saw it everywhere.”
The idea for their series came from a London bookshop. “Adam found this great little Collins Nutshell book, Etiquette, by Martine Legge, while he was on vacation in London. We were already looking for a subject for our first web series. When we looked at the book, we knew we had found our show. HarperCollins UK was kind enough to grant us the rights.”
Lewis says that during the development process, she and Adam “thought deeply about how we related to etiquette. We talked and laughed a lot about bad manners. Then we forced ourselves to think about what good manners should look like.
“These were really rich conversations,” Lewis states, “because we share many of the same values. But Adam's a young Orthodox Jew from North London and I'm a middle-aged black woman from Harlem, so we see the world through different lenses. Hopefully, those differences help us create scripts that connect to more people.”
Writing for a Web Series
We asked Lewis if writing for a web series differs from other screen writing? How does it affect, for example, scenes, beats, pacing?
“Good writing is good writing is good writing,” she emphasizes. “Plot, character, setting, conflict, compelling ideas, engaging emotions all remain crucial.
“However, on the web you're writing for a viewer who is going to have a more intimate experience. Most people watch web content alone, often on small devices. I think of it as the difference between going to an arena for a concert versus listening to a music box. So you have to write more directly to the viewer. Funny has to be funnier! You can't ride a laugh track or laughter in the room.”READ MORE ON LEWIS AND WEB WRITING...
We originally contacted New Mexico-based film producer Judy Bell about a project she was developing, a film featuring a Native American private investigator. Bell says, “The story, centering on the character Geronimo Jones, was to take advantage of the rich Native culture that is inherent in the lure of New Mexico.”
The story would also have focused on Santa Fe, the oldest capital in the United States, home of the oldest newspaper, and an old adobe that is the oldest house in the United States. “The rich history,” says Bell, “goes back over 400 years and, of course, much further in terms of indigenous peoples occupying the land.”
Hitting the Wall
Unfortunately, Bell had to fold the project. For a producer, knowing when to walk away is just as important as continuing on. “Life is an ongoing challenge. I've dropped that project for a number of reasons.”
“Balancing an urban Native American against the backdrop of one of the most complex and fascinating cities was intriguing and would provide vast marketing possibilities to promote tourism, the international art scene, and the Indian market.
“But in the end,” Bell says, “this marketing potential is what undermined the project, as the businesses around the plaza - arguably the most popular spot for tourists - do not want filming. It clogs the small streets, often isolates a business entrance for days at a time, and takes up valuable parking space for grip and other production vehicles.”
“Also,” she says, “the marketing ideas I had would have to go through the state and city film and tourism offices, be approved by the hotels, and who knows who or what else, so my creative enthusiasm hit the reality wall and I realized the odds of ever getting into production were slim to none.
“A producer puts everything into believing in and developing a project, and one must be tenacious and persevere. But at some point the facts have to be weighed and a decision made.” READ MORE...