166: 166 From Aristotle to Hollywood with Susan Isaacs
Welcome to episode 166 of the creative writer’s toolbelt podcast. My guest for this episode is the actor and writer and Lutheran Susan Isaacs.
Susan has worked in TV, and got a Masters degree in screen writing. She moved to New York, and worked in comedy there before moving back to California to be close to her mother, who had dementia. She turned some of the most difficult times of her life into a one-woman stage show and that led to a publishing deal. She is now Professor of Screenwriting at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
In our conversation we talk about the fact that successful stories need a compelling character, who is relatable but also wounded, and who has a desire or goal. We discuss how story structure goes back to Aristotle, and has been worked out by great storytellers have worked with and worked out this structure since then, from Shakespeare to Tolkien, from St Augustine to Margaret Mitchell.
We discuss the fact that great stories have an internal and an external journey for the main characters and how this works within the three-act structure, and how stories live in specificity.
We talk about how script writing is the same as the novel but also different in terms of structure, we discuss active verbs, and reflect on how our stories are never going to be as horrible, or wonderful, as we think they are.
I learnt a lot from my conversation with Susan, I hope you find it an enjoyable and informative listen.