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JMS live in New Jersey

Here are some final bits from the voice tape. These are comments about WRITING that might be of interest to all our budding writers. It's more a summary than word for word.

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JMS: Writing is nothing more than speaking on the page. It's getting all the crap out of the way so you say what you mean, clearly and precisely without trying to be forced about it. The hardest part is getting out of your own way. I imagine it like a movie in my head, seeing the same scene over and over again until it's tight, then write it in a draft. Very rarely do I go back. When you think about it too much you lose the fingerprint of the story. Write in a white heat - bam - you get the story down. The worst script - - Grey 17. It took two weeks. (much laughter)

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Question: What medium do you like to work in most - - feature films? (again, much laughter)
JMS: I may do one soon. That was a very clever question. I like writing in all forums for different reasons. Paragraph structure can apply to a short story, which teaches you dialogue, which you can apply to a script, which you can then apply to a novel. It all feeds into each other. I enjoy writing in every area. I think it keeps you fresh as a writer. The worst thing you can do is get complacent with your own work so I try to put myself in a position where I might fail. It's only in doing so that you learn what you have to learn. The military has this philosophy: failure is not only a part of the process but a mandatory part of the process. When you see where the machine breaks down you can address it and fix it. So I try to find ways to challenge myself in ways that I know I can fail.

If I had to pick one medium I'd say TV because it is the means of getting the widest possible audience with the stories you have to tell. TV has become so much dominated by the Visa Goths and the Huns that it is incumbent on the rest of us to stay in there because if you don't then there is no voice for intelligence. I'm not saying that I am but that's the goal.

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Years ago, at a school career day, JMS was sitting at his desk with 3 or 4 of his stories in front of him. Along came a guy who picked up one of his stories and went off and read it - returned and picked up another story. The guy came back again and said to JMS that he was very talented and offered two pieces of advice. First, cut every third adjective and second, never let them stop you from telling the story that you want to tell. Later, JMS worked posthumously on the guy's unfinished scripts. The guy, Rod sterling from the Twilight Zone.

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