Hello Stage 32 Community!
Today's amazing blog contributor is Rosalind Winton, a writer and editor based in the UK. She wrote a script based on the postcard her great grandfather send to her great grandmother from the Titanic, days before the infamous sinking.
(Color me interested!)
Throughout the writing process, she utilized Stage 32's script services offers to get notes and advice from our esteemed board of executives, producers, and mentors.
Read on to find out more about Rosalind's inspiring experience using Stage 32's script services!
For the last two years, I have been working on my screenplay, THE POSTCARD.
It is based on the true story of my Great Grandparents and all I wanted to do was write a little thing about their story, that wouldn't take too long, I thought around a 20/30 minute short... Two years later, I'm still writing it.
The postcard my Great Grandfather Harry sent to my Great Grandmother Rebecca from the Titanic in 1912.
I was doing okay, but as I was writing it, I found that if I was going to say 'this', then I had to explain 'that' and I found that it was becoming so much more than a 'short' and it was expanding into a full-length feature.
I was very afraid of using dramatic license because I wanted only to tell the story of what really happened to them, I wanted it all to be true and I fought and fought with myself over it.
My Great Grandfather and Grandmother, Rebecca and Harry Corn
Then, I sought help from some screenwriters here on Stage 32 and the advice I got back was amazing, the most notable was... "put the story before the fact". That phrase helped me a lot. I got over myself and got to writing as though my life depended on it.
As soon as I stopped worrying about it, it all just flowed, my fingers couldn't type fast enough and I was like a woman possessed.
When I got to a point I felt I couldn't do anymore, I sent it in for industry feedback through Stage 32 Script Services. The advice I received was more than amazing and I was not at all daunted by the two 'passes' I received. The feedback was so constructive, it was polite and respectful and I understood exactly what they were saying, so I set to work making all the improvements.
I got to the point where I thought I would send it in again to get the opinion of someone else. This time, it came back with a 'pass' and a 'consider', so I was catapulted into the 'this could really happen' mode.
I followed the advice and again, watched the screenplay come alive as I was writing it and once I had sorted it out again, mainly a lot of format issues, I decided to send it in for the third time.
This time, I wanted the first person who reviewed it to see it again. I wanted to know if they thought the screenplay had improved and how I was doing. I was really, really excited this time, because I honestly thought I had done it and that I would get two 'recommends' and they would be putting my screenplay forward for production.
Okay, that was a bit naive, but when you believe in something so much, when it's the last thing you think about before you fall asleep and the first thing you think about when you wake up and you work so hard to get it right, that's when the hallucinations start.
I even sent it to friends to read and I got back 'wow's' and comments that the screenplay was so much better than the first time they read it and how much it had improved. So I kind of thought I was on my way to the red carpet.
I was very surprised and delighted to receive the feedback within the stated 72 hours, Jason explained to me that because I was sending the screenplay to a specific person, it could take longer, so I was very impressed with that and very grateful because now I could stop pacing...
The feedback I received this time was very positive and the improvements I had made had really done wonders to the screenplay, but there were still quite a few 'howevers' in the feedback and my heart sank a little bit, but they were right, even though I had followed their advice greatly, I had, at times, reverted back to my bad habits without realizing.
It was all good until I reached the end of the feedback and saw that they gave me two 'passes' again... There goes the red carpet and award ceremony.
I was, at first disappointed and the thought of more months of writing made me feel a little downhearted... But, after a few moments, I gave myself a good talking to and reminded myself that the feedback was only making me a better writer and their advice was for the good of the script, it's not personal and actually they were quite right with what they were saying.
What I find extremely difficult is the dialogue, making it 'sound' realistic and not putting in words that just take the screenplay from one scene to another, it has to be meaningful and it has to move the story forward. That is something I have to practice and work on.
Because the screenplay is based on a true story, I have to be very careful to 'show', not 'tell'. When I received the first feedback, it stated that I tended to 'list' events, rather than visually 'showing' what is actually happening and what an audience would be seeing on screen. I worked really hard to sort this out, but according to the feedback now, I was still doing that in places, so that is something I will certainly look at.
Character development is also something that is so hard to do, even though this is based on real people, I never knew them, so giving them their own personalities, traits, good points, and bad points is not easy.
I've also brought in other characters with their own stories, because this is partly about something particular that happened in history, I wanted to show different points of view of the event, but because this other character's story doesn't connect with the main characters, the reader felt it was disjointed and that the screenplay deviates from the main character and story, so I'm going to have to find a way to link them together more somehow.
The other thing that worries me a little bit is that the budget for this would be large - but to read the comment... "It does feel like one of those movies studios would want to release during award season"... gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling and made me smile. So it looks like there is a good possibility I might one day be able to thank my parents for having me, to the world.
It is so interesting to read an expert point of view of something that you think is incredible and amazing and when you read the advice, you can see how, although you feel it's the most brilliant screenplay on the planet, it actually isn't, but I am humbled by the fact that there is hope, they do really like the concept and they want to know more about how the actual story unfolded over time.
The first time I sent the screenplay in, I was told that the ending was too long because I suddenly go from the past to present day and it felt to the reader like the ending was a completely different story. I looked at it again, realized she was right, so I cut a lot out and changed it a bit. When she commented again, she said I had cut too much out.
But rather than feeling annoyed and thinking... 'whatever I do, I can't win', I looked at it objectively. It's a very fine balancing act and it's just a case of getting the 'ingredients' right, otherwise, the cake sinks.
I have wanted to tell this story from when I was 11 years old, so I am determined to get it right and to the screen one day.
Sending your screenplay in for industry feedback is so worth it, if nothing else, to make you a better writer.
One of the sentences in my feedback under the reader's bio was... "She loves helping people develop their ideas and grow as writers"... And that is exactly what has happened to me. I am determined to follow her advice and get this right.
The other thing I did was watch one of the films she recommended and mentioned under the heading 'nutshell' in the feedback. It was an amazing film and as I watched it, I thought about it from the writer's point of view and it was like the dawn broke, the penny dropped and the light bulb came on all at the same time. I suddenly got it and I understood exactly what she meant in her feedback from watching the film.
I am sorry that I am referring to my reader as 'she', I don't know her name, but to me, she's my mentor, guide and 'screenplay mum' and I will always be very grateful for what she has done for me as a writer and my screenplay. I am also very grateful to the second person who gave me feedback as well, it was also, very constructive and I did implement their advice.
So, don't ever give up. If you believe in something, whatever it is, keep going, don't be the one digging for gold that gives up because it's taking too long to find, only to discover later on you were an inch from finding it.
Just keep going, because for me, what was going to be a 20 page short that would take a few days to write, has turned out to be a 120-page full-length epic feature, that's taken two years so far, it's something I never thought I could do.
I am creative, I've been writing poems and lyrics my whole life and I produce my own songs, I've published a book and I'm a literary editor, so I advise and help people improve their work all the time, but I still need these amazing people to help me get through the process of writing this screenplay and I can't thank them enough.
I would like to finish by thanking Jason Mirch who is the Director of Script Services for Stage 32. He does an amazing job, he is very approachable, nothing is too much trouble and he makes the whole process easy and stress-free.
I really look forward to putting my screenplay through again to my 'screenplay mum' in the future and hope to one day invite her to the premiere of the screenplay she helped to make happen.
Thank you Stage 32!
I hail from South West Hertfordshire, which is just north of London in England and I run my own editing business, One Voice Literary Agency.
I edit everything from full-length novels, young adult, children's books, business reports, articles, blogs, websites and more. Since joining Stage 32, I have edited many screenplays as well as other genres of work for members of the site. My mission statement is... 'No matter whether a piece of work is a full-length epic novel, or a short article, high standards of presentation are critical when presenting work to publishers, producers, or any other media. My aim is to help writers bring their work to a high standard, with a friendly, respectful and professional approach'.
I have produced and recently published a book called 'Poetic Wonders', which includes my poetry, plus the poetry of five other authors. The book contains an eclectic mix of 90 original, contemporary poems, plus a full-length story, written in rhyme by one of the authors.
Apart from writing my screenplay, 'The Postcard,' I write lyrics and I have an extensive catalog of songs. I have written lyrics for unsigned solo artists and musical theatre projects, I have won Outstanding and Merit awards at music festivals, I have written lyrics for school plays and I have spoken to primary level school children about lyric writing. I work with very talented composers and vocalists and I love nothing more than being in a recording studio, overseeing the production of my songs. My ultimate dream is to write a song for the film.
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