screenwriting

3 Philosophical Concepts To Make You Look Smart

This blog is part of a series of helpful pointers for fellow writers in the “The Six-Figure Writer” Community

As a wordsmith you deal with ideas, not physical objects. A handyman, for instance, needs to know his way around a hammer. If he didn’t, you probably wouldn’t hire him to fix your door.

Likewise, a writer needs to be well-versed in concepts. It would be highly embarrassing to be in a creative meeting and not understand what’s being said. You could even lose a client if you are not well-versed on topics educated people are expected to know. Never fear, fellow writer. This primer explains three fundamental philosophical concepts to help you look smart.

1. Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Imagine a cave where prisoners are forced to work. Since birth, they have all been chained so their arms and legs are immobile. They are forced to look at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is a fire. The fire casts flickering shadows on the wall. Since the prisoners have never seen the flames, only their shadows, they assume the shadows to be real. They have no concept of the greater reality: that the fire exists and that the shadows are merely images.

What Plato is trying to say is that often times, human beings mistake illusions for reality.


How might we escape such limited thinking? In the story, one of the prisoners breaks free from his chains. He looks directly at the fire. It’s so bright, the illumination hurts his eyes. But as his eyes adjust, he comes to recognize reality’s true nature: there are (often unnoticed) primary causes that create our world. This prisoner helps the others to wake up from their delusions too by leading them out of the cave and into the enlightening brightness of the sun.

One of the most insightful attempts to explain the nature of reality, this metaphor is meant to describe the limited mental state of many human beings before reaching enlightenment.

2. Mind/Body Dualism or the Ghost in the Machine Debate

Rene Descartes (famous for saying, “I think, therefore, I am”) theorized that the body and mind were two separate entities. Thoughts exist on a different plane than the physical. Modern scientists disagree. They contend the brain is the physical thing inside controlling everything. The ongoing debates centers on this: how can thoughts (immaterial things) cause material things to occur?

3. Existentialism

Existentialism concerns the search for self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Most people think that existentialism is only about moody intellectuals brooding about alienation, despair, and absurdity. However, this important movement was borne out of the angst of post-war Europe. The unifying idea is that individuals are seeking to discover who they are as they make personal choices. An existentialist believes each person must be responsible for his/her own actions without the need of laws, culture, or traditions.

For more information and helpful resources, please visit the The Six-Figure Writer Page.

What Happens When You Stop Writing Alone

This blog is part of a series of helpful pointers for fellow writers in the “The Six-Figure Writer” Community

When you think of a WRITER what mental image comes to mind? Is it a person alone hunched over their computer typing away? Emphasis in that last sentence on the word “alone.” The archetype of a writer is an introvert. Popular depictions of writers depict a solitary individual working in isolation. Though that reality may be true for certain writers (at certain times), a strong case may be made that some of the best writing occurs in collaboration. I’d like to give you an example.

Soon after graduating my master screenwriting program, I begin collaborating with Charles D. Borg, a fellow screenwriter from Chapman University. Together, we “beat out” our story ideas, talking over every aspect of a script from theme, to dialogue, to characters. Then we wrote each screenplay together. It was an amazingly beneficial experience for both of us.

Right now, I’d like to go over some reasons why you too should consider partnering up with other writers to achieve greater levels of success.

1. Conceptual Help

Whether dreaming up a screenplay, a fictional book or a non-fictional guide, it doesn’t hurt to have someone you can bounce ideas off of. To me, the most challenging aspect of writing is creating the broad picture or concept that will eventually be captured through an outline. Having another person to discuss and figure out your big idea can be helpful. Together, you can refine and polish your approach until you feel happy with the material.

2. Real-time Responses

Charles and I wrote many comedic TV and Feature scripts together. Unlike other genres, such as drama, comedy is easily measurable based on the visceral human reaction. Essentially, I could tell if something was working if my writing partner laughed aloud. The feedback was instantaneous and helpful. Regardless if you are writing comedy, though, receiving another person’s reaction can save you time. You know right away if you are headed in the right direction or not.

3. Reduced Workload

This may sound obvious but it’s important to recognize. Being able to split the work amongst a collaborator should be one of the prime motivators of writing together. Though some writers are of the mind that it only counts if you are the only person responsible for the material, I beg to differ. There are monetary benefits of sharing the workload. You can produce more content quicker, allowing you to take on more assignments and thus earn more pay.

Author’s note: Charles D. Borg operates his own screenwriting analysis and development company @ http://www.smashtoconsulting.com/. Contact him for outstanding script coverage or to write your screenplay.  

For more information and helpful resources, please visit the The Six-Figure Writer Page.