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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First Ever Cockeyed Caravan Reader Survey!

So I’ve started toying around with a book, though I’ve been reluctant to do so...

After all, I love the altruistic nature of blogging, and I hate the idea of the endless cycle: The writing instruction industry creates out too many writers, who then fail to make a living off their writing in an over-saturated market, who then have no choice but join the writing instruction industry, creating yet more unemployable writers, who then have no choice but to….etc.

But people have asked for a book, so I eventually asked myself: Is there anything left to offer that all the hundreds of existing books haven’t already said? And the answer is… yeah, maybe. But I’m not quite sure what it is.

As I suspected, my initial attempt to simply drop my existing pieces into chapters proved unsatisfying, which means, inevitably, that I’ll have to re-write the whole thing from scratch.  This means that, for the first time, I’ll have to explicitly line it all up around an overall thesis, which is…what? 

From the beginning, I’ve had certain unwritten rules of thumb in my head for my posts: (always give an example, try to have counterintuitive titles, etc…)  Looking back on it, these seen to be the general qualities I’ve aimed for, overall:
  1. Counterintuitive: opposed to the conventional wisdom, focused on paradoxes
  2. Anti-Solipsistic: Against listening to yourself, pro listening to others
  3. Audience-Focused: Based on how an audience will react
  4. Example-Based: Supported by examples from classic and underrated movies
  5. Systematic: breaking writing down into separate, specific skills
  6. Unsentimental: tough-love tone
  7. Hard-Learned: stories based on my own failures, fighting my own bad instincts.
  8. Emotional: Focused more on emotional impact than big ideas.
  9. Irreverent: Un-solemn and a little silly
  10. Populist: Anti-MFA, pro-real-world experience, pro-wide-appeal
  11. Practical: Step-by-step how-to advice.
So the question to you is, are any of these my “brand”? I’m not fishing for compliments here.  I’m just admitting that I don’t know which of these aspects that people associate in their minds with this blog, and I need to know that if I’m going to try to re-focus it around one thesis and market it. 

And of course, the next big question is, “What should the title be?”  Based on the eleven tendencies listed above, I’ve generated eleven possible titles.  Inevitably, I’m sure I’ll generate one hundred more before I’m done, but here’s a start:
  1. Everything You Know about Writing Is Wrong: How to Kill Your Inner Muse and Connect With An Audience
  2. Kill Your Muse: How to Write for An Audience
  3. How to Write for an Audience
  4. How Do They Do It?  The Less-Than-Obvious Reasons That Great Stories Work
  5. The Seven Skills Every Writer Must Master: A Step-By-Step Guide to Storytelling
  6. Writers’ Boot Camp: How to Write for Others, Not Just Yourself
  7. How to Re-Write: When You’re Ready to Get Serious
  8. Make Them Care: How to Write for Audience Impact 
  9. Why is Writing So Damn Hard? 
  10. Writing is Hard Work: The Seven Skills Writers Must Master
  11. The Storyteller’s Rulebook: 165 Writing Tips You’ve Never Heard Before
Do any of these sound right to you? (And feel free to mix and match the sub-titles)

Let me reiterate: my goal is not to fish for compliments.  I just know that people often misperceive what their own brand is, and they’re often shocked to find out what their audience really thinks of what they do.  So I’m coming to you with my first ever reader survey: If you’d be willing to buy a book, why would you consider that book to be different from the other books on your shelf?

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer!  Coming soon, I’ll be delving into some of the big-picture contextualization I’ve generated as part of this process.     

30 comments:

Daniel Smith said...

I like # 2, 3, 4, 8, and especially 11. Stay away from the "Seven Steps..." type. They're formulaic and they've been done to death. Most importantly, They're. Not. You.

As far as a brand, I associate you most with the term 'Cockeyed' - a crooked look, a tilt of the head, odd, unusual, different. That's probably why I like "Writing Tips You’ve Never Heard Before" and "The Less-Than-Obvious Reasons That Great Stories Work". You're offering something different than the mainstream. Flaunt this.

And speaking of the importance of titles, I just nailed down the titles for my WIP series. Maybe I'm planning too far in advance but...having the titles in place makes my complicated, lengthy story that much easier to organize. So I think starting with the title is a very smart decision. It's the first impression and you can never make another one.

JD Paradise said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now -- I'm a prose writer, not a screenplay writer, but stories are stories -- and I'd say that there are 2 reasons I keep coming back to your thinking about them:

+ There's a definite vibe that you're working this all out for yourself, based on experience and reading and assimilation. And, as you work it out for yourself, there's some stuff that resonates with me that I can pick up. This is, in its way, very similar to what Chuck Wendig is doing on terribleminds, and I find his learning process educational as well.

+There's a sense of systematic behavior here for me, you doing your best through multiple posts to surround topics and wring every drop of information from them that you can. The re-examining of previously hashed-out topics is another part of it; as we grow as writers we learn more, and it's interesting to watch you circle back with what you've learned now and see how it applies to what you thought or wrote a year ago.


Of your items, I'd say I get senses of 3,4,5,7, and 11.

Titles, I'm terrible at.

Of them, I suppose I connect with a variant on #7; a lot of what you're exploring here is definitely [n]-draft type thinking; trying to keep it all in your mind can drive you nuts in the first draft.

Another thought for the focus of the book - how'bout doing it in a workbook format? "Here's some stuff I learned; here's an example of how that goes wrong; here's an example of how it works awesomely. Ok, your turn."

This could be hard b/c there's such variety in stories - example [x] won't map to my story [y], but it maybe could work if it's approached from the right angle.

Just a thought...

Greg Hatcher said...

Honestly, I like the first one. I fight that battle in class a lot, especially with my high school kids. "You're NOT a precious little snowflake, individual and unique, and I don't care how inspired you felt, this isn't working. Here's why. Get it through your head that you're a craftsman doing a job. These are the skills. You don't get to skip learning them." That's your niche, it's the reason I recommend the site to the kids. Pragmatic and technical skills.

j.s. said...

Matt, I've been reading for a while and I've learned more about writing from this blog than from any other teacher, book or peer. To me your brand is about Systematic Step-by-Step Examples gleaned from your Hard-Won Experience and your careful study of a wide range of successful films.

But if there's one big idea I see as the through line to the blog so far it would have to your understanding of storytelling as problem solving. Like you've said repeatedly: A movie is about one person trying to solve one problem. And the journey of each individual protagonist (and the process of the writer himself/herself) recapitulates the same basic steps.

The Unsentimental, Irreverent, Populist, Counterintuitive strains are all true, but for me they speak more to the style of your message than substance. Because the blog is always first and foremost about discovering and testing what works.

I also think it could be a mistake to foreground all of that "kill your muse" stuff in the title or the central thesis of your book. Not just because all how-to books are about hope. Not just because if I weren't already a fan and didn't know your work it would turn me off. But also because it's not really, strictly speaking, true. One could just as easily characterize your journey as a writer on the blog and your advice to your readers as a discovery of a truer, deeper muse and a more authentic connection both to your work and your audience.

I'm a huge fan of some of your big series' and I hope you can find a way to work those into the book. Just about any way you write it, a book should ideally have THE ULTIMATE STORY CHECKLIST as an appendix. I'm fond of THE HERO PROJECT and THE STORYTELLER'S RULEBOOK too. Though the RULEBOOK might be too diffuse to use as an organizing principle you could still use a few selected rules as break-out sections within various chapters to highlight interesting examples, variations or exceptions to the issue at hand.

----------
A couple of title ideas:

One Person, One Problem: How To Use The
Innate Structure of Human Problem Solving to Write A Kick-Ass Screenplay.

What Happens Next: Everything You Need to Know About Screenwriting That Nobody Taught You In Film School

-----------
Anyway, these are a few quick thoughts. Good luck with the project. I hope we can all offer some useful help in this thread and others to come.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Your use of induction rather than deduction is a huge appeal. You don't work from a monolithic theory of Story downwards, but many real examples upwards. Doing so makes your claims both more accurate, since you're keeping the focus tight, and easier to understand, because they're of a smaller scale than "This Is Story, O My Screenwriting Children."

As a few other commenters pointed out, your explanations as to how you arrived at your conclusions help a great deal. When you explained your epiphany on "The Wire" and its dialogue, you did so in a way that formed an emotional connection with the reader; you worked logically and yet with a core of emotion, drawing up an embarrassing but understandable event. We could relate to your moment of discovery, your sense of embarrassment at earlier failure, and your pride in making a vital discovery. A fine story unto itself. Plus, it combined the two key elements of a great idea: it was screamingly obvious and yet also easily overlooked. By rubes like us, at least. So by all means, keep the book as a collection of stories of discovery. It's not a set of stereo instructions. Make it human. Make us care. You're good at that.

As far as the title, don't forget your own advice about storytelling irony. And by the cigar of Louis B. Meyer, make it stand out. Stomp on cliches like they're a passel of roaches headed for your family's Thanksgiving dinner table. "Everything you know is wrong," "Boot Camp," "Seven Steps," "Every Writer Must," mentions of hard work, etc., all must be bug crap on the bottom of your boot.

The "less than obvious" title is good. Maybe couple that with "make them care?" The practical, less-than-obvious ways movies make us care is your selling point. Hit it.

Sean said...

"Kill Your Muse: How to Write for An Audience" sits uncomfortably close to John Warner's "Fondling Your Muse: Infallible Advice From a Published Author to the Writerly Aspirant." But something else along those general lines would be best - "[Mysterious and Evocative Statement]:[This is a Screenwriting Book with Genuinely New Ideas]."

Anonymous said...

Counterintuitive, Hard-Learned, Example-based.
Title: Kill your muse: how to write for an audience.

Parker said...

"To me your brand is about Systematic Step-by-Step Examples gleaned from your Hard-Won Experience and your careful study of a wide range of successful films."

I agree with this. I think the way you use examples is really insightful, and I love how you bring your own process into the discussion. These aspects have been the most helpful to me in improving my own writing.

From the first list, #4 and #7 most hit home. As for a title, I like a cross between #4 and #11. Maybe something like: The Storyteller's Rulebook: The Less-Than-Obvious Reasons That Great Stories Work. Then again, maybe your title should allude to how you incorporate your own experience.

In the end, what I like most about your blog posts is how you point out why a movie works or doesn't work.

Jill Rasmussen said...

Hey Matt,

Those titles are fairly descriptive but I think the title needs to be more representative of the end goal. Something more along the lines of:

How to Write a Screenplay that Sells: A comprehensive analysis
guaranteed to help you write a marketable story.

Or to keep it really simple, just:

Write to Sell: How to write a marketable screenplay.

Glad to hear you'll be writing a book. Your critical analysis, almost scientific, is superb. Will definitely buy it!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what your readership # is, but I'm going to guess it's relatively high (it should be) and that we are going to be among the first to buy the book.

To that end, I think you should capitalize on your brand and call the book:

Cockeyed

And then have some subtitle, like:

How I learned to write movies all over again

Anyway, my broader point is that you're probably going to have word of mouth working in your favor, so the title doesn't need to sell the book on its own.

And while your titles are descriptive, "Save the Cat" is so easy to say that I think it's the main reason it became a hit.

Crystal said...

Ditto on everything Harvey Jerkwater said.

I think your strongest brand element is how you systematically break things down and scrutinize elements that "normal people" in the industry take for granted. Your eye for what works and what doesn't is extremely impressive, and you go through WHY. I love that.

I don't like any of the titles you offered up - they all sound kind of tired, cliche'd. But I'm bad with giving title suggestions, so that's a Debbie Downer for you. :(

Teddy Pasternak said...

The Storyteller's Rulebook would be a good title. Or: The Bird's-eye View of Story.

Could spawn a whole series of books: The Bird's-eye View of Horror/Romantic Comedies/Underrated Movies, etc.

Yes, it's a pun on your name.

James Kennedy said...

Cockeyed Bird by Bird?

Matt Bird said...

Wow, thanks so much, guys! Lots to think about here. Keep it coming!

David said...

Hi Matt! Longtime reader, first-time commenter here. I've found this blog incredibly useful in my own writing, so I thought I'd chip in my two cents.

As I see it, the general theme (though not necessarily the thesis) of your blog is "counter-intuitive structuralism". You seem to approach stories from a structuralist standpoint, dismantling them into their constituent parts and pointing out the non-obvious but critical components that make them work. If I can use an architectural metaphor, you're the guy who looks at a building and says "Wait a second - everyone thinks this beam is holding it up, but that beam is actually propped up by these two other beams that no-one noticed. And that decorative doodad over there? That's actually supporting the the roof."

The posts that really stick with me take that angle – superficially, it looks one way, but it's actually built a different way. Relatable characters aren't great people, they're surrounded by terrible people. Good stories don't start with an inciting incident, they start with a new, scary solution to an old problem. Deep-reaching works aren't about good vs. evil, they're about good vs. good. These ideas cut through the often opaque vocabulary of writing we've been taught and get right to the underlying tricks of storytelling.

As for the list, I would definitely read something like title #4. Absolutely don't do 5, 10, or 11 - insights are more valuable than lists. I also heartily agree that showing how you arrived at these story discoveries is critical. Handing down rules from on high is alienating. Describing your epiphany, letting the reader have it along with you – that's one of the things that makes your blog great.

Here's a crazy parting idea - probably unworkable, but what the heck. Why not apply the Checklist? You're a clever and resourceful hero with a problem to solve; how to write a screenplay. Take us through your "journey of discovery" as it were.

James Kennedy said...

BRAINWAVE! Is it possible the solution is right in front of our eyes? Why not actually just call your book the name of your blog, "Cockeyed Caravan," and then stick a subtitle after it? No, wait, this is serious, stay with me! After all, "Cockeyed Caravan" is not only a reference rooted in film history, Preston Sturges and all that, it's also fun to say, and "caravan" implies a journey, and "cockeyed" implies it's an irregular one. And that should be the focus of your book -- the thing that will make it not just another screenwriting manual is that it will be a *personal journey story*, your warts-and-all crooked path, but with all of your lessons ingeniously planted along the way. (Maybe even with sidebars, etc. to drive the point home.)

I'm thinking a title like:

"Cockeyed Caravan: How I Learned To Stop Being A Bad Screenwriter and A Bad Person and Become a Great One"

(maybe "became a great one" is too far but you see what I mean roughly)

I think the preface of your book should be the George Clooney ER story you tell here, about how you were near death (for those just tuning in, it's here: http://cockeyedcaravan.blogspot.com/2011/02/how-to-create-sympathetic-character.html )

That is, your first few lines should start just like that post, "Two years ago, I was dying rapidly" etc. etc. That grabs the attention! That gets the reader right away!

Because the sympathetic character that you're creating is "Matt Bird"! After all, the reason many of us come back to your blog day after day isn't just the advice you give, but the persona you've constructed, which you broke down with the usual acuity in your post.

McKee is the blowhard-you-could-still-learn-from; Snyder was the chirpy-positive-thinking-go-getter; your persona is of the thoughtful-battered-populist-skeptic-unsentimental-emotional fella.

The hook of your book is your personal journey with screenwriting. It's uncommonly dramatic as far as such stories go. You came out of school with all the wrong ideas! You were beaten down! You were near death! Then you turned it around, dug deep, and figured your way out of the mess. You could shoehorn in your courtship / marriage with Betsy and your experience of being a father with Lily and use anecdotes from those to further illuminate your points. (The astronomer Mike Brown, the man who demoted Pluto from planethood, takes precisely this tack in his book HOW I KILLED PLUTO AND WHY IT HAD IT COMING -- playing off the domestic/personal anecdotes with his scientific and academic struggles.)

People love personal journeys, and making this book into a personal story is what will make your book stick out. You don't want to write a book that's in the style of a hectoring geometry textbook, like McKee's STORY. You wouldn't want to write it in the style of a slightly-crass-but-invigorating self-help manual, like Blake Edwards' SAVE THE CAT.

The thing that will make your book distinctive, and will give you an opportunity to flaunt your structural chops, and will put across your hard-won lessons in the inductive, iterative, observation-based way that is your hallmark, is to put it in the form of a kind of memoir-cum-textbook.

A story of a journey. A journey with friends, family, your commenters -- a caravan, so to speak. This caravan is slightly strange. One might even call it cockeyed. You might see where I'm going with this?

Something like:

"Cockeyed Caravan: How I Learned To Stop Being A Bad Screenwriter and a Bad Person and Became a Great One"

Go! Do!

rams said...

I like most of James's idea but would tweak the subtitle; you're a storyteller, and better, the mechanic who can tell others why their story is making that funny sound, blew up or just won't start. Also like getting rid of the muse. So Cockeyed Caravan: My Journey From Artiste to The Guy Who Knows How to Make Your Story Work -- or something like Storyfix: How I Jilted he Muse, Learned How Stories Really Work and Became the Best Friend Your Script Ever Had.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

I deliberately havent read any of the other comments yet - so, if mine overlapps with others, all the better... What I find unique and brilliant about your blog (I am a novelist, btw, not a screenwriter) is, that you have arrived at your conclusions through tedious, hard work - trying out all the existing, known ways (from the gurus and from what you learned in filmschool) but then questioning them (never in a disrespectful way) and finally creating something new, which is entirely your own. A bigbigbig bonus with this method is, that you can actually explain why something works or show how it works. (Does any of that make sense? Sorry, english usually isnt the language in which I try to explain complicated subjects...).

To sum it up: In contrast to other blogs or how-to-books, your blog is, to me, something like a well-worn, precious cookbook: You know, those charming ones, that are full of arrows and scribbles, where people have crossed out ingredients or got the ingenious idea to add a splash of ketchup or cut the cooking time in half or... so that finally, in the end, you get something perfect. Because you have tried and tested and found what worked. For that reason alone, I wouldnt call the book something like "7 steps" or anything that sounds too catch-phrasy - it makes it sound too easy and shiny. And easy and shiny is, I think, not your USP.

Much good luck with everything - and thanks again for this amazingly brilliant blog, especially the Storytellers Rulebook! Katrin

P.S. In case my cookbook analogy hasnt put you off: Check out the british "Guardian" for one of their most beloved columns - a woman called Felicity Cloake does exactly that with known and well-loved recipes, for instance apple-pie: She tries out several recipes from the gurus, finds out what works - and then creates her own, the truly perfect pie.

Bill Peschel said...

My background: I've been writing for a long time, but only published a couple of nonfiction books. Story writing is tough, and I've collected a passel of how-to books and even a few screenwriting books (Story and the one by the guys who write Night at the Museum).

Your site is way different from theirs in these ways:

1. You break it down. No philosophy, just details.

2. You use examples. You have an advantage in that we've seen a lot of the movies you're referencing, and even where you don't, it's easy to pick up the point.

3. You're writing, in essence, from the bottom up, and breaking down everything.

In fact, I would throw in these ideas for a title:

Cracking the Story Code

Breaking Down Movies: A Screenwriter's Guide to Building Heroes to Cheer For, Comedies to Laugh At, and Thrillers to Die For

JD Paradise said...

Bill @ 3:32 PM:

I really like those titles and think they well fit what Matt is doing, but I'd like them even more combined:


Cracking the Story Code: A Screenwriter's Guide to Building Heroes to Cheer For, Comedies to Laugh At, and Thrillers to Die For

Beth said...

As a Librarian, I vote for Bird's Eye View. It sounds less cliched than the others, but not uber-academic. I appreciate the checklists and examples to back them up.

Jay Rosenkrantz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Rosenkrantz said...

Some great comments. I agree wholeheartedly with Harvey Jerkwater:
As far as the title, don't forget your own advice about storytelling irony. And by the cigar of Louis B. Meyer, make it stand out. Stomp on cliches like they're a passel of roaches headed for your family's Thanksgiving dinner table. "Everything you know is wrong," "Boot Camp," "Seven Steps," "Every Writer Must," mentions of hard work, etc., all must be bug crap on the bottom of your boot.

The "less than obvious" title is good. Maybe couple that with "make them care?" The practical, less-than-obvious ways movies make us care is your selling point. Hit it.

And like j.s., the titles I've responded most to here are Cockeyed Caravan, The Storyteller's Rulebook, The Hero Project, The Ultimate Story Checklist. I also agree that "Save the Cat" is so easy to say and sticky, and that's a big reason it caught on. Save the Cat is insanely overrated, in my opinion--the content is just different enough from the rest of the market to make it look like a lifesaver, but in reality... surprise! There is no lifesaver. But, it's a great title.

What most appeals to me about your site: you learned a strategy for writing screenplays, then discarded it to learn how to do it better. That experience yielded valuable, practical insight into problem solving and engaging audiences on an emotional level. You write to writers, people also working it out for themselves, day after day (not people desperately seeking a golden key to their dreams or 10 simple steps to their epic destiny).

Your examples and analysis show that you've been there and thought about this further and more thoroughly than most, and your voice and experience show that you're smart and you know what you're talking about. What you offer is hard-earned wisdom, the antithesis of every screenwriting book I've read (which pretty much all read like combination alchemical theory book and self-help guide for homeless people). This is why I always recommend your site to writers, and why a book is a great idea! You offer a unique product (btw, if you haven't given thought to self-publishing, you should consider the pros and cons--you might be surprised how much money you could make with a well-executed self-publishing strategy for something like this)

PS I'd enjoy a workbook component too--the workbooks are the few screenwriting books I've purchased (and I've purchased quite a few) that I've felt were actually worth the $.

Unknown said...

I particularly responded to #4, #5 and #7. And I am definitely looking forward to the day that I can plunk my money down for your book, no matter what you decide to call it!

Anonymous said...

I think I've hit upon your title.

Using the "what is an unexpected but easy to apply rule that is also eye-catching?" formula that led to "Save the Cat" -- I think your title should be:

[drum roll]

"Be nice to a black person."

MCP said...

I'm late to the comments, but I've found your blog tremendously helpful so wanted to provide feedback as someone who has purchased a fairly large number of books on writing (20+).

First off, I would buy your book whatever it was called. That being said, I did not find any of the titles particularly catchy except for Kill Your Muse. But that title is confrontational and might turn off potential customers who need to kill their muses but instinctively react against it.

The other titles all seemed fine, and personally I buy writing books based on aggregate Amazon reviews. So possibly other aspiring writers are the same.

I've clicked on the Ultimate Story Checklist at least ten times in the two months since I discovered your site. I wanted to second or third earlier commenters who would enjoy some sort of worksheets in the book involving elements from the Checklist. I find even the titles of all those posts very thought-provoking.

Best of luck with the book!

Nick said...

Just to echo what others have said/alluded to, particularly Anonymous and j.s. - I would go with 'What I wish I'd learned in film school' as your (sub) title:

1) it plays in to the fact that you're offering something unique
2) the subtext is, you've been there, done that but you're still learning

I think it's interesting that you put 'screenwriting is hard' as one possibility - it undoubtedly is, but for me the take-home from your blog has always been a de-mistifying process, and a feeling that I've been given a lever that will let little me move the world.

Best of luck and thank you for all that you do here.

d. mckay said...

I just found the blog a week ago when I started listening to the Narrative Breakdown podcast and have been reading it obsessively since. So you could effectively call it "Cat Crap: How to Make Your Own Crappy Formulaic Screenplay" and I would still purchase it because I love the blog so much. But seriously, the reason I originally purchased Save The Cat was because it was memorable. Most screenwriting books are titled something so generic("How to Write..., Screenwriting for..., Screenwriter's Guide to...") that I completely forget why the book interested me in the first place. And it also makes me doubt the creative bona fides of the person writing said book. Save The Cat however, when it was released, was a different take on the screenwriting how-to book. And now anytime anyone at a panel discussion or conference or lecture refers to a screenwriting book generically, it is always Save The Cat. It's like Coke being generic for all carbonated sugar water in the South.
Just from reading the blog I can tell you have more knowledge of screenwriting than the professional screenwriters I know. And its a safe bet to say probably even the screenwriting professors I know as well. So take your time. Come up with something truly great. I think "Kill Your Muse" is inherently negative and therefore its not a strong foot to start off on. A book like Your Screenplay Sucks worked doing that because it was a essentially a tirade against bad writing. You are offering real knowledge and constructive theory. But like I said, call it what you want, I will still buy it.

Steve Bird said...

I definitely agree with those who have pointed out that you "show your work" in getting to your rules. Whether in your own personal story, or in your analysis of movies that do things well or badly. If you drain any of that out of a book version, you will have killed your brand.

The title ideas I've liked so far (with some modifications along the way) :
• Cockeyed: How I learned to write movies all over again
• Cockeyed Caravan: How I Learned To Stop Being A Bad Screenwriter
• Cockeyed Caravan: Lessons Of My Hard Won Journey From Film School Artiste to Story Architect

and I have to admit, for the attention grab aspect, I kinda love "Be Nice To A Black Person," but I'd be afraid it would overshadow and color (no pun intended) the book as a whole. Maybe: "Be Nice To A Black Person: A Cockeyed Look At Screenplays?" Nah. That doesn't work. Or maybe a subtitle like "See What Should Be Obvious"?

On the whole, I think David and James Kennedy's comments above have done the best job of crystalizing what it is that makes your writing unique and valuable. Above all, keep your voice in both the text and in the title.

Steve Bird said...

If You Meet Your Muse On The Road, Kill Him: My Cockeyed Journey From Film School To (Reality Relatability? Fundamentals?)