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Sunday, April 13, 2008

1st Person

Just a few days ago, I invited Rouge Wavers to work those writing muscles and submit a first person essay (500 words, max) to the Rouge Wave. Some Wavers may know that first person is how the Wave-inatrix got her start, oh so many years ago. And you all must know by now that I hold it be self-evident that writing in many styles and for many venues is a must for a well-trained and toned writer.

What is a first person essay, anyway? Uh, well, it's right in the name. It's written in the first person. First person - or personal essays - can vary in length from 500 to 1200 to 2500 words and up. Most publications ask for 1200 words.

A good first person essay should do a few things: It should have a really great, evocative title. It should stay within the word count limit (a reality in this format), it should have a clear beginning, middle and end. It should wind up with a sentence that summarizes the theme and the point and it should have some "take-away" value - some meaning that the reader can use. You know, tips, inspiration, resources - something that leaves the reader a better person when they're done.

You may be asking yourself - what in tarnation does first person essay writing have to do with movies, screenwriting or the Rouge Wave?! Nothing. And everything. The Rouge Wave is a blog dedicated to more than inspiring, entertaining, informing and occasionally riling screenwriters. It is a place where we talk about screenwriting primarily, but it is also a resource to keep you in shape physically, emotionally ands spiritually for the marathon that we are all running. As people and as writers. Writers write.

But, as per usual, I digress.

Reading great essays is a real pleasure, and something that the Wave-inaxtrix adds as a regular part of my fiction diet. The Sunday New York Times magazine is a great source of first person essays as are many other great publications. Best American Essays is a great place to really start exploring essay writing for those of you who are curious or already big fans.

Let's give a big Rouge Wave congratulations to Jennifer, our first featured Rouge Wave 1st Person writer!


By: Jennifer Thomas

I started a new project.

And *gasp* it's not a screenplay!

It's a children's novel. I have all these whimsical thoughts throughout my days caring for children and I finally sat down to write.

And I almost forgot how to write something that's not a screenplay!

It took a few moments for the freedom of words to rush in, but golly I had a lovely time using every inch of my imagination this afternoon folks. Really, really great! I wrote what I thought, what I envisioned. I didn't get caught up in the screenplay woes:

Am I being too literary?
Am I directing?
Describing too much?
Describing the wrong way?
Setting up a major plot in the first 10? The first 10 are so important?
Is there enough white space?
Am I telling and not showing?

...I just wrote.

And I wonder if this is how a pro feels when they write a screenplay.. Do you think that they feel the same ease of writing? That they don't think about all these rules and exceptions and confusions and conventions...they just write? And they trust their own voice, and find peace and calm in screenplay structure.

And then I realize that…

1) They probably all have their moments of self-doubt.
2) They still manage to finish scripts they are proud of..

So, I set aside my magical, whimsical children’s story. And I open up Final Draft. And I stare at my script. The one that I said I’d finish months ago. The one that’s stuck on page 58. The one that I started with exuberance and excitement, until my inner critic got a strangle hold on me.

I take five very deep breaths…

And I just write.


All right, Wavers. How did Jennifer do? You can leave constructive comments here on the RW. Cast well-aimed marshmallows, not stones, for you may be next. And quite honestly, kudos are in order because for the most part, Jennifer has written a very nice essay here.

Rouge Wavers interested in toning and firming those writing muscles can submit first person essays for consideration HERE.

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1 comment:

Milli Thornton said...

Applause to Jennifer for having the courage to be the first to submit.

She embraced the first person voice and took me right there into her feelings. She allowed me to recognize some of my own feelings by sharing hers.

I enjoyed her successful use of repetition (breathe/write) to underline her message: that relaxing can do more for us than sweating technique; that enjoyment in what we write is paramount.

I was curious to see whether the first essayist jumped in for the sake of some exposure or to communicate something from her soul. For my money, Jennifer did the latter. She had something to say that I wanted to hear. And, true to Julie's guidelines, I felt I came away a better person.

By writing her vulnerability, Jennifer gave me courage. And reminded me of all the kindred spirits out there.