The 4 Hour Struggle

Entrepreneurial Philosophy by Matt Aaron


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Being around the water

A short story excerpt from Hollywood Animal: A Memoir by Joe Eszterhas.

The Pool Man

Henry took care of our swimming pool at the Malibu Colony. He was sixty-nine years old and lived in the Valley: I knew all the big stars when I was about seventeen, eighteen. Cary Grant came into the house once and the first thing he said was, “It’s very nice to see you, Henry.”

He was really looking at me. I was a good-looking kid. They’d all come to the house to see my dad. He was at Paramount then. He’d been at RKO before then and later on went to Columbia. I went to Beverly Hills High School where I was a really shitty student.

I spent all my time in the pool at home and we also had a place out in Malibu so whenever I wasn’t in the pool I was out at the beach, riding the waves and getting a tan. Man, I had a great tan but that wasn’t what I really cared about.

Go for the Jugular

On Charles Thomas, Atlanta Screenwriter

I didn't really get along with my writing teacher in college. I thought most of his ideas were stupid and his schedule of writing, every single day at an increasing rate, was ridiculous, especially when we had so much else going on in our lives. Who actually writes every day, anyway?

Of course it turns out 99% of what Peter Christopher (RIP) said was correct. Well, maybe not that much, but a lot of it, particularly his point about not being lazy and putting in work every day, was on the nose. If you're curious, I made a C in the class - Peter said my portfolio was one of the most disappointing and biggest wastes of talent he'd ever seen.

There are several lessons of his I could talk about, but one I definitely can see has had a big influence on my stories. His mantra was "Go for the jugular!" He hated stories that took forever to get going, tales that wandered around aimlessly until the good parts arrived to get them going. He wanted us to skip past any needless junk and get right to where the "action" is. In other words, the reader is there for a reason, so get to the point.

For example, let's say your story is about wooden furniture coming to life and attacking a ship full of scurvy-stricken pirates. Your first draft has a lengthy back story detailing how the pirates all arrived on the ship which all comes back around later as they fight off the killer chairs and tables. However, this takes up several pages in your story meaning the action doesn't really get going until page 7 of a 20 page short. Wouldn't it be better to reconfigure the story so you get to the point and reveal the rest during the action? Just jump right into it.

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