Category Archives: What a Concept

You Begin at the Beginning

A good beginning makes a good end.

English Proverb

There is a reason we begin at the beginning of an creative work. There is simply no place else to begin.  There is a moment of inspiration; an idea or some intellectual musing, and we decide to follow it, where ever it will take us.  We begin at the beginning because it really is impossible to completely know where it will take you.  What it means.  What it wants to be.   Surely, you can force an idea into a particular shape, impose your will upon it, make it submit.  But, is that the best way to create?   I think its safe to say; great works of art have been created in this manner.  It’s not, however, the way for me.

For me the beginning, that original inspiration-idea-is the starting point from which we begin a process of discovery.  I feel the need to discover a balance between the intellectual knowingness of what it is I am trying to create and the desire to hold my hand lightly on the “tiller” of the idea; a kind of I-don’t-know-knowingness.

On Monday I started working with 7 women who all have various levels of experience as writers and are, to a person, looking to develop 7 unique and interesting stories.

It was fun to begin with them.   One has 5 drafts of a screenplay, another barely has a noodling of an idea and has never really written anything.  They’ve come together to begin an exploration of story.  They want to discover what is the story they mean to tell.

I’m excited and honored they want to work with me.   It’s going to be a blast!


Story Development – What a Concept!

There is a reason the studios and production companies spend a lot of money in story/script development; they know the key to any motion picture screenplay is story, story, story.   You should take the time to do the same whether you are working on a screenplay, novel, memoir..,or whatever form you work in.

What a Concept! – In this 8-week workshop, we will concentrate on developing the best character to tell your story, the central conflict of the story, and the pathway forward, sharing and commenting on each other’s work in a supportive workshop atmosphere.  By the end of the 8 weeks you should have a very clear foundation on which to base your story and a vision forward into your screenplay.

Dates: 08/13/2012 – 9/24/2012 –

Time: 6:30PM to 8:30PM –

Cost: $285.00 members / $315.00 non-Lighthouse members
Location: Lighthouse Writers Workshop – 1515 Race Street, Denver, CO 80206


This is a very work intensive story development class, and is great whether you are at the idea phase or have a completed screenplay or draft novel that simply is not coming together.  Please be aware, while this workshop is not geared toward first time writers, anyone can benefit from the insights and techniques you will develop.

Instructor: Michael W. Catlin

Michael has completed 9 full length motion picture screenplays, including: The Enchantment, bought by Universal Pictures and The Burnbaum/Winkler Company; as well as an adaptation of Isabel Allende’s short story “Walimai” entitled Children of the Moon, in partnership with TVC – Communicazione Telavisia, Italy.  Additionally, he’s been hired as a contract writer by producers for their projects and currently has three projects under active development.

Before moving to Denver three years ago, he spent 33 years in Los Angeles, working in front of  and behind the camera; as well as in the executive suites of the studios and production companies as a story analyst  He has coached writers and worked with directors preparing their screenplays for production, and currently is a member of the faculty at the Lighthouse Writers Workshops in Denver, where he focuses his teaching on “story development.”

A Story is a Story is a Story.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

With the start of a new session of What a Concept! at the Lighthouse Writers Workshops, I find myself going back to what is, in my mind,  the root of story telling: a desire to connect.

Story telling is a natural human trait.  It has been an quality of human existence since the first human realized he could think about himself, thinking about himself and raised the question: Who/What am I?

We tell our own personal story constantly throughout our daily lives.  We lead with it;  who we are, what we’re doing, where we’re going, what we want, why things are the way they are.  It is the way we seek to connect with the world around us; the way we seek to understand the meaning of our lives.   For some of us, we are trapped in our stories.  Others, use their ‘story’ to reach for their dreams and desires.  All of us use stories to connect; to bring purpose to our lives and meaning to the world around us.  It makes us human.

Those who create stories as a creative exercise do the same thing; they are attempting to make connections, individually and to the larger culture they live in.   They want to show a representation of humanity, to give an example of how one lives, acts, and reacts, to every kind of human experience possible.

A story is a story is a story.  It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a novel, a play, a short story, narrative poem or any other Form.   The artistic expression or media as well matters not; a choreographer, a painter, a composer or otherwise, are telling a story and certain principals apply.

In my mind, these principals are Character, Plot and Tone.   I don’t believe there are rules” to “story”, but there are principals of what constitute “story”; concepts that contribute to the connection, the expression and affirmation of one’s humanity.

That is the essence of good story telling.