“The Heart of a Good Story”

Donald L. Vasicek - Rabbit Ears Pass - Colorado

Donald L. Vasicek – Rabbit Ears Pass – Colorado

“The Heart of a Good Story”

By BOB GILLEN | Published: MARCH 23, 2014

“A Writer’s Passion”
“The heart of an engaging story resides in the heart and mind of the person writing the story. It is passion and where that passion takes you as a writer.”

Writer Don Vasicek

So says Don Vasicek, the founder and owner ofOlympus Films+, LLC, a global writing and filmmaking company. “This passion is reflected through the writer’s characters and the story. Each character, each location in the story, and each occurrence that takes place in, with and between the characters and in the story, should reflect that passion.

“The Crown, the first screenplay I wrote,” says Vasicek, “is a coming-of-age story about a boy who sets out to win $25,000 in a car race to use for an operation to save his Gramps from dying. The heart of the story emerged from within my heart and mind. I possessed a desire to show how vital love is.”

Driven by a Will to Succeed

“This desire was exacerbated by my will to succeed because I grew up in an environment that rejected my efforts to love and to be loved. The Crown shows how love elevates a boy to success and happiness. That passion still burns very deeply inside of me. It is like a roaring fire and it has been reflected in the heart of every engaging story I have written. Love is my passion. It always results as the heart of the engaging stories that I write.”

Indeed, Vasicek’s passion has lead him to teach, mentor, and consult on scripts for over 400 writers, directors, producers, actors and production companies.

“The Crown went on to win several screenplay competitions,” he says, “snared me a WGA agent, opened other writing doors for me, received a stage reading, and was purchased and produced by Incline Productions Inc. and aired on cable.”

Story: Beyond the Mere Telling to Magic

Vasicek believes all writers should be aware of the difference between showing and telling when writing a story. “The key here,” he says, “is the use of verbs. Write a sentence with a passive verb. For example, ‘The sky is blue.’ Well, that is something all of us know. But, where is the magic? It is absent because the sentence shows no action. The sentence shows no action because the verb in the sentence, ‘is’, is passive. So, what if, instead, the sentence was written with an action verb: ‘Space constitutes a vault over the earth that is blue in color.’ Here, the action verb, ‘constitutes’, imparts information about the sky that goes beyond blue.

“Look at the usage of verbs in a screenplay or story that you’ve written. What do you see?” Vasicek asks. “I would be willing to bet that those sentences that contain action verbs give you far more confidence that your writing is going where you want it to go than with sentences that contain passive verbs.

“For practice, if you want to improve your writing, take sentences you have written using passive verbs and change those verbs to action verbs. You will find that doing this is hard work. It causes you to think through what you are wanting to accomplish in the sentence.

“The resultant effect is that you will improve the sentence, which embellishes and dimensionalises your story, and you have grown as a writer. This, to me, is taking your writing beyond telling and making it magic because you’re adding heart/passion to what you have written by expanding upon what you have written. Making your writing magic through the use of action verbs deepens your ability to take your writing to the next level.”

“Don Vasicek Interviewing”

Story Elements That Transcend All Media

I asked Vasicek if there are elements of story that transcend all media, even non-fiction and personal branding. “If you watch television commercials (how can we not these days?), you will notice that the good ones eclipse failures non-fiction and personal branding media exhibit because they have a beginning, a middle, and an end to a story.

“Effective TV commercials sustain a theme that holds the story, characters and action together. They contain a main character and they have an antagonist.” Vasicek clarifies that television commercials can have a person or persons or an inanimate or animate object opposing the main character, but unlike in fiction, not a villain because no one wants to involve evil in their TV ads.

“Both the main character and the antagonist are seeking the same goal, but the main character is going about achieving it via positive means while the antagonist is doing what he/she can do to succeed via negative means.”

Saving Animals With Detergent“Dawn soap’s ‘Saving Animals from Oil Spills’ is an example of a cogent commercial.

It contains a story, animals and oil spills. The story is oil spills. It has characters. The bad guy is oil spills. The good guy is the animals. The theme is oil spills. The goal of both the main character and the bad guy is to utilize the environment, the good guy for survival, the bad guy for survival (by getting rid of harmful oils into the environment).

“Elements of story that transcend all media, including non-fiction and personal branding, require a story, a main character with a goal, a bad guy with the same goal, a theme that holds everything together, a literal mixing of oil and water, e.g., ‘Saving Animals from Oil Spills’, which creates conflict, and without conflict, there is no drama, and without drama, everything you write falls flat and will not evolve. So, a mixing of dualities, the mingling of opposites, or a dichotomy seals together the story, the character and the action to take your writing to a level that exceeds what media, even non-fiction and personal branding, spend thousands of dollars striving to achieve.”

“Unsung Hero Come to Life”

Upcoming film

Vasicek’s current passion is a feature film, titled “The Captain”, about Silas Soule, a US Army captain who refused to participate in the slaughter of native Americans at Sand Creek, Colorado, in 1864. When a treacherous massacre was ordered against Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribe members camped near a Colorado fort, Silas held his unit back from the killing. He became a symbol of heroism for his bravery in bringing the truth about the massacre to light. Later he paid the price as the victim of an assassination at the hand of one of the soldiers involved in the massacre.

Marcinho Savant, the executive producer on the project, says of Vasicek, “His passion has become my own. I’m honored to play some small role in telling the truth for the benefit of the Cheyenne and Arapaho victims of this horrendous slaughter.”

See more on the Sand Creek Massacre film (https://www.facebook.com/TheCaptainMovie/)

About Don Vasicek

Don Vasicek serves on the board of directors of the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston. He is presently raising money for Ghost of Sand Creek, a mini-series/documentary.
Vasicek studied producing, directing and line producing at the Hollywood Film Institute under Dov Simens and at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. He studied screenwriting at The Complete Screenplay, Inc., with Sally Merlin (White Squall), daughter of the famed Hollywood Merlin family of screenwriters and writers, as his mentor.
Vasicek has written and published over 500 books, short stories and articles. His books include How To Write, Sell, And Get Your Screenplays Producedand The Write Focus.
For more see Don Vasicek’s website (donvasicek.com)

“Theme, Characters, Story Elements”

"Unconditional Love is Universally Paramount."

“Unconditional Love is Universally Paramount.”


by
Donald L. Vasicek

All entertaining and creative writing springs from the writer’s ability to tell a story. And this story doesn’t have to be fiction. All effective writing springs from putting the story together in a coherent fashion.

A story must have a beginning, a middle and an end, and not necessarily in that order, but those three elements must “be there” in order to make what you are writing effective. The story must have a defining theme. A defining theme is the main theme of the story.

For example, if the story is about an apple, then everything in the story must relate directly, or indirectly to the apple. If the apple begins its life in the tree in the story and its struggle in the story is to become an full grown apple, then elements must be introduced in the story like the weather, the human being, the animal, etc. that are trying to prevent the apple from becoming a full grown apple.

It is the apple’s job in the story to fight and defeat each one of these “opponents”, with one of these “opponents” being the main threat to the apple. The main opponent should reflect what the apple wants, to become a full grown apple, but the main opponent, which is the villain or antagonist in the story, depending upon if the writer is telling a story about a fight between good and evil (villain) or a story that represents a competitive force (antagonist) to the apple’s goal.

This, then, introduces conflict, and without conflict in any story, there is no drama, and if there is no drama, there is no story, just a series of sentences that are saying something about the apple. And this could be where many writers are at in their writing dilemma. You must tell a compelling story that the reader can relate to on an emotional level, or you will lose the reader before they finish reading what you have written.

Get on the right track by “being yourself” in your writings. That is vital to be effective in your writing. So, what you need to do is rethink your approach to your writing style, perhaps rewrite something you have written utilizing the above suggestions.

If this resonates with you, good! If it does not then, I am hopeful that you continue your quest to be an effective writer. You’re never not that far off. You just needs to shift your writing a bit and you’ll be on your way!

Best Regards,
Don Vasicek

“How To Write a Story”

HIKING IN DEER CREEK CANYON, COLORADO

How do you write a story? Anyone want to venture a guess?
My guess is that you have a theme that should work like
a thread that holds the story together. The story should
have a beginning, a middle and an end. There should be a
main character who has a goal and transformation arc.

Seeking the goal should cause the main character to
transform. This way, the story won’t fall flat because
the main character is changing. And every story should
have an antagonist (in fiction, an antagonist can be a
person, object, thing, etc. the fine point of this is
that an antagonist is different than a villain). A villain
must represent pure evil with no redeeming characteristics.
Whereas, an antagonist should have redeeming characteristics.

So, by having an antagonist, or a villain, you should
also have the antagonist or villain seeking the same
goal as the main character, but for different reasons.
And the villain goes about accomplishing his/her goal
in a different way than the hero/main character does
with his/her goal. This, in turn, then causes conflict.
And this, in turn, creates drama. Without drama there
is no conflict. Without conflict there is no story.
And all of this is applicable to anything one writes
including fiction. So, do some reading and check it
out. You’ll find this article is right on for you.

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
The Zen of Writing
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net