Weekly Journal

Introducing Stuart Land: A novel writing specialist

15 March 2017

On March 25th, The Content Castle will welcome Stuart Land – a creative adventurer with eight published novels and 20 screenplays – as our writing workshop facilitator. His eight novels are filled with storylines that are unique in detail and controlled by interesting characters. Stuart’s talent isn’t limited to novels, as his screenplays highlight his ability to condense the details of a story without losing its impact.

During his stay at the Castle, attendees of his workshop will undergo a massive transformation on how they view the details of forming a novel. Often, when writers first begin a novel, they think big: character sketches and general storyline, but what about the inner mind of the character? Or the backstory? The power of past and present tense? Stuart – a novel writing specialist – will reveal the importance of these details throughout the duration of his stay at the Content Castle.

Your biography is so fascinating. Your life is quite the adventure! What inspired you to begin writing while you were working as a sculptor in the film and theme park industry of Los Angeles?

In your heart, stay a child.

When I started in movies as a sculptor, I read the scripts I worked on. I saw how scripts changed, and how the actors said the lines.

A friend started conversation about writing. We arranged a writing day. A half dozen people showed up. Writing wasn’t so easy. Everything I wrote was terrible.

I started a novel, but it was bad. I called a script-writing coach; he said to take his course. I gained an insight about how to write more effectively.

I took a workshop by a known editor. She taught me two things: less is more, delete purple prose.

I studied scripts, met writers, directors, producers. Went to film festivals, took seminars, directing workshops, made short films, and spent years trying to make a feature film. I pitched to TV shows. 20 scripts, 8 novels later, LOL, never finished my first novel!

Is there a direct correlation between your diverse lifestyle with the variety of genres shown in your collection of novels and screenplays?

That’s a yes and a no. I’ve never been a vampire, but I’ve known a few. I’ve been a policeman, so that helped in writing about them. My ideas come from the universe and real life. I use my observations about what make people tick, how they are in different situations with different cultures, sexes, races, etc. I use my own experiences, and those around me. I mix it up. My lifestyle is open. I’ve changed at various times because the cultures I’ve been exposed to, my art exposure, people I’ve met, and it’s fun. Writers don’t need to change their lifestyle, but they do need to be observant and write from the character’s POV and not their own.

We are excited for Stuart Land to stay with us at The Content Castle.

How do you approach writing a screenplay as opposed to a novel?

They are two different mindsets. Novels are a complete form. You can do anything within them. You can do it by yourself. Screenplays have a ton of rules you need to follow. Scripts are like poems, a very condensed version of what the story should be. Novels are writing in 1st and 3rd person, usually past tense. Screenplays are always present tense and are 3rd person.

Because I’ve written a lot of stories, it takes me a few hours to be comfortable to go from novel to script, or reverse. For both, you have to be fully committed in the format you’re writing in.

You’ve written a lot of novels and screenplays, which one did you enjoy writing the most? Why?

While I’m writing them, all my stories are my favorite. Some are harder to write than others. The most fun I had was with Crossing the Double Yellow. There was a lot of comedy. I had research, but it wasn’t exhausting.

I loved writing my vampires novels. I was writing the second book, when I got an idea to jot down a sci-fi thought. Four months later, that thought became a new sci-fi novel. Then I had to finish the vampire story. That was weird.

My speculative fiction novel, Primal Daughters (formally called, Epiphany), was a completely new genre and storyline no one had done before. I came up with the idea for the theme and general plot, but had no characters. I took ten years to find those characters.

I’d like to inspire writers to move forward, to not be afraid to let their imaginations soar.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?

When I first started writing screenplays, I made detail character bios. I also plotted the stories out to the nth degree. I no longer do any of this because it’s now intuitive. All the character traits come out as they story progresses. I wouldn’t advise this for the beginner writer because you’ll just get confused and lose characters in a mash-up of traits.

Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?

Writers hate me for this. I don’t get writer’s block. I have so many ideas bouncing around my head I find it hard to sleep. My theory about writer’s block is this, and if writers follow this advice, the blockage time would be drastically reduced. Ready… Let you characters tell the story. Stop trying to force them to follow your story. Sure, it’s initially your idea and your plot, but once you get started, it’s a community effort. Many times, my idea of a plot and theme becomes something different when the characters take over. It makes the story more lifelike. Let it flow, baby, let it flow.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?

Study the craft. Read all different genres from all different eras. Learn to write screenplays, for this will teach you how to plot stories, write convincing dialogue, and be concise. Did I say study the craft? Many authors (in my unscientific survey of self-published writers), do not do this. It’s usually obvious from the first paragraph.

Never. Ever. Give up.

Stuart posing by one his artistic photgraphs.

What do you hope to gain from your experience at The Content Castle?

I’d like to inspire writers to move forward, to not be afraid to let their imaginations soar. To learn a few things from people who’ve done some of the hard work already so you can focus more on your stories and writing. Every teacher will tell you that what goes around, comes around. We all get ideas and advanced thoughts from people of every age and every background. I’d like to be inspired by up and coming writers.

Stuart is established in his profession and willing to share his tricks of the trade with aspiring writers. His workshop will turn the imagined story lingering in the writer’s mind to a colourful entity of words painted across paper.

Care to bring your characters to life? Join us at The Content Castle for a workshop taught by Stuart, a novel writing specialist, beginning March 27th. Before the session commences, Stuart requests a two page writing sample from each student.

Stuart’s workshop schedule:

Monday March 27th, 11 am – 2 pm: What makes up a story, Part 1

Wednesday March 29th, 10 am – 1 pm: What makes up a story, Part 2

Friday March 31st, 10 am – 1 pm: Review

Monday April 3rd, 11 am – 2 pm: Characters, Part 1

Wednesday April 5th, 10 am – 1 pm: Characters, Part 2

Thursday April 6th, 10 am – 1 pm: Review

Monday April 10th, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm: Dialogue, Part 1

Wednesday April 12th, 11 am – 2 pm: Dialogue, Part 2

Friday April 14th, 11 am – 2 pm: Review

Monday April 17th, 11 am – 2 pm: Simile, metaphor, adjectives, adverbs, Part 1

Wednesday April 19th, 11 am – 2 pm: Simile, metaphor, adjectives, adverbs, Part 2

Friday April 21st, 11 am – 2 pm: Review

Monday April 24th, 11 am – 2 pm: Story structure, theme, plot, Part 1

Wednesday April 26th, 11 am – 2 pm: Story structure, theme, plot, Part 2

Friday April 28th, 11 am – 2 pm: Review

Contact us for more information: https://contentcastle.asia/contact/

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