What can Robert De Niro teach you about writing? by @StartYourNovel

What can Robert De Niro teach you about writing?

 

0…
On Writing


by John Magnet Bell
@startyournovel

John Magnet Bell

Robert De Niro (b. 1943) is an American actor, director and producer. Claiming that the Muses love him is an understatement — he’s played so many iconic movie roles by now, I’m surprised Euripides hasn’t risen from the grave to crown De Niro in laurels. Did I get my tropes wrong? I don’t care.

De Niro in Raging Bull

De Niro in Raging Bull

There was Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull: a simmering, hammer-fisted ball of rage.

De Niro in Taxi Driver

De Niro in Taxi Driver

“You takin to me?”


The 
Taxi Driver, that least charming of rogues, speaking to secret fantasies of retribution.

De Niro in The Untouchables

De Niro in The Untouchables

De Niro’s portrayal of Al Capone is the definitive one, as far as I’m concerned.

Robert De Niro was born to Virginia Holton Admiral and Robert De Niro, Sr., two painters of cosmopolitan descent: Robert’s ancestry includes Albanian, Irish, English, German, French and Dutch forebears.

De Niro’s parents divorced when he was only 3, and he was raised by his mother in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan and in Greenwich Village.

 

At school he was dubbed “Bobby Milk” on account of his skin tone. It was also at school that he would first tread the stage as the Cowardly Lion in a production of The Wizard of Oz. Bobby was a shy ten-year-old who had discovered the magic of acting.

 

One word would be enough to describe De Niro’s love affair with his calling – that word is devotion. He’s one of the few actors alive today with a real talent for metamorphosis. Travis Bickle, Sam Rothstein, Al Capone… “Bobby Milk” invested them with a kind of intensity that can only come from love. Love for the work.

 

De Niro is the ultimate chameleon actor, and in a way it’s a shame that he’s become so famous, because his celebrity status will now color any role he takes on.

 

Maybe in a few decades, when his star has dimmed somewhat, we can once again appreciate his performances without the specter of fame at the back our minds.

 

So, what can Robert De Niro teach you about writing a novel, story or play?

“I’ve never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on whether I was to be an actor or a personality.

Oscar Wilde once remarked that great poets led boring lives, whereas bad ones seemed to hop from one adventure to the next – true poetry lay in what they did, not what they wrote.

 

Writing is not the most engaging form of physical exertion I can think of. In fact it is rather monotonous, even if you develop eccentric strategies to help you cope.

 

Writing is where you separate the thinkers from the doers. You have to be mentally prepared to sit down for hours and put one word in front of the other and pound your sentences into shape. That’s what a thinker does – she subordinates physical expression to the demands of her mind.

 

A writer is under no obligation to be interesting or eccentric. Deep thinking, dedication in the long term, these are the traits I find essential.

 

You can cultivate your social persona and your writing, but one of the two is going to take a few hits, depending on your skills.

De Niro in Casino

De Niro in Casino

Ace: 

“Listen to me very carefully. There are three ways of doing things around here: the right way, the wrong way, and the way that *I* do it. You understand?”

“It’s important not to indicate. People don’t try to show their feelings, they try to hide them.

Greek actors wore masks on stage, as well as special shoes. Both mask and footwear had meaning, as tragic and comic actors put on different kinds.

 

The masks were stylized representations of human faces. For the most part, we don’t ask our actors to wear tangible masks anymore, but the principle is still there. They use their actual faces as masks.

 

You’re no different in daily life. Politeness is an act. Going up before a class and teaching is also an act. Any rational activity that makes you interact with other human beings forces you to develop self-control and represent your feelings. Not to mitigate or disown them, but to keep them out of the way.

 

So many writers struggle with dialogue because they don’t want the reader to feel left out of the conversation. That is a legitimate concern, but revealing too much through a character’s voice is a big risk. More often than not, your 33rd-degree Freemason assassin will sound like someone who can’t unzip his fly without help.

 

People hesitate and overthink. Momentous decisions are seldom matured overnight, and decisions that affect lives will be shared with restricted circles.

 

Don’t condescend to the reader. You’ll cripple the story, and ultimately their enjoyment.

DeNiro 5

“One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people’s lives without having to pay the price.”

 

Creating a story, you leave your ties behind. Limitations that you observe in real life become fodder for brilliant prose. In the rich landscape of your mind, you can be Emperor of Ten Thousand Worlds or a deaf assassin. You can commit all the crimes you want against imaginary people and not worry about the police tracking you down.

 

When you don the writer’s mask, you’re excused from the obligations of your daily, outward self. You can turn loose the giant radioactive hedgehogs that populate your grimmest, grittiest nightmares.

 

You get to create lives and inhabit them. It’s like acting, with a major bonus: you don’t need to take any shit from directors. Ever.

###

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

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One Red Shoe
With Music by @RussellBennetts & @Klassnik
What can Monty Python teach you about writing?



Flash fiction by John Magnet Bell:

A Prayer to the Coastal Winds
Stratospheric Beast
The Angels of Provenance
Parable of the Hungry Dark

About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell

Typhon by John Magnet Bell

Typhon by John Magnet Bell

 

Semi-poetic: Progress and Prosperity by @Faryna

 

Semi-poetic: Progress and Prosperity by @Faryna

 

Poetry

by Stan Faryna @Faryna

Stan Faryna & The Blue Sky - Stan The Marketing Man!

Progress and Prosperity

I stretched out my hand to poetry

this early morning
and I felt the distance grow between words and
understanding.
Were those miles there before I had begun?
Like glass shattering, the shards scattering
across the kitchen floor like a people
fleeing, retreating
from a more perfect union – but they say
Lincoln’s a poet and poetry mends
hearts, ways, hopes, families, neighborhoods and a nation –
That would be progress!
Or prosperity by any other name.

Technology, commerce, innovation –

cannot tow a star-faring ship of state up a creek.

Lincoln Coin

The Lincoln Dollar


More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

One Red Shoe

Everything You Do Is A Snowball

What can Monty Python teach you about writing?

 

 

Other posts by Stan that you will find illuminating, uplifting or both:

You Can Do Amazing Things

A Tribute to Maya Angelou

A Short Story of the Antichrist

About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is writing an epic novel. All of the world is crumbling like unrepaired, ancient walls but 18 year old gamer, PVP champion, zombie killer, blogger and serial entrepreneur John Dionysius finds the woman who he’s been dreaming about all of his life – a dream in which she is murdered as he watches helplessly from the eyes of a child.

Twitter: @Faryna Facebook: Faryna.FanPage Google+: +StanFaryna Website: The Unofficial Blog of Stan Faryna

You can support Stan by helping his friend, Nisha Varghese (click on Nisha’s pic to make a donation). Nisha Varghese

Nisha Varghese is an inspiration to Stan because she lives out the truth that she is bigger than her challenges. Among them, Cerebral Palsy. She too can save the world. Make it a better place for all of us. Nisha is a light and a gift unto the world. Nisha’s website is here.

A Public Alert on Epsom Salt by @Faryna

A Public Alert on Epsom Salt by @Faryna

FlasFiction

by Stan Faryna
@Faryna

Stan Faryna & The Blue Sky - Stan The Marketing Man!

 

“Kill him! Kill him! Kill him dead!”

An elderly man in jeans and a white tee shirt with Captain America’s shield on his chest shouted at the angry crowd surrounding the terrorist, his white hair tossing across his forehead as he shook his clenched fist.
The terrorist had been caught in the pharmacy – trying to buy one dozen one pound bags of epsom salts. To make a bomb – undoubtedly!
Epsom Salt
A translucent white, plastic garbage bag dotted with yellow smiley faces covered the terrorist from head to crotch. It was bound with an electrical cord around his waist.A baseball bat swung and connected with the area presumably where the terrorist’s face might be. Red splattered across the inside of the bag and began to soak the front of the terrorist’s gray and black, snap button, plaid wool shirt.
The crowd closed in. A knee was brought up into the terrorist’s stomach, an elbow down on his chest and a kick shattered the knee cap.
As the terrorist fell, a man in a black suit kicked him in the small of the back and a mother, infant in her arms, kicked him in the head. On the ground, a grandmother of four granddaughters brought down her combat boot on his abdomen – ripping the shirt apart.Pools of blood spread out under the head and stomach.They were patriots. They were good citizens. The G-man – gray suit, white tie, and black shoes – congratulated them on their valor.
Everyone in the crowd congratulated each other. The only good terrorist is a dead terrorist – a phrase that was repeated endlessly and affirmed from one person to another.
The elderly man approached the body with morbid curiosity, knelt down and untied the twine. He wanted to see the horror on the terrorist’s face. Or what was left of that face. He wanted to savor the victory in all it’s terrible splendor.

The terrorists had caused them so many troubles – 22 percent unemployment, 200 percent price inflation, 13 percent value added tax, epidemics, power outages, unclean water, and nuclear power plant failures. If it happened and it was bad, the terrorists had done it.A Congresswoman from Arizona had even suggested that the terrorists were now using alien technology.
That’s what they had been told. Everyone knew it was true.
The grandmother in her pink jogging suit and Pikachu hoodie bent over and began to pull the unbound bag up. She did it enthusiastically despite the protests of the G-man. A few more inches revealed a gently and perfectly rounded stomach – a pregnant stomach. The congratulations, jokes and boasts stopped dead. The terrorist wasn’t a man, after all.

When the unrecognizable head slid out from the bag, blonde hair streaked with blood slapped against the asphalt. The only thing to identify the woman was a silver locket that held the picture of the elderly man now weeping and gnashing his teeth beside her – her father.

More awesome by mad geniuses here on the GANG!

One Red Shoe

Everything You Do Is A Snowball

What can Monty Python teach you about writing?

 

 

Other posts by Stan that you will find illuminating, uplifting or both:

You Can Do Amazing Things

A Tribute to Maya Angelou

A Short Story of the Antichrist

About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is writing an epic novel. All of the world is crumbling like unrepaired, ancient walls but 18 year old gamer, PVP champion, zombie killer, blogger and serial entrepreneur John Dionysius finds the woman who he’s been dreaming about all of his life – a dream in which she is murdered as he watches helplessly from the eyes of a child.

Twitter: @Faryna
Facebook: Faryna.FanPage
Google+: +StanFaryna
Website: The Unofficial Blog of Stan Faryna