Screenwriting : Starting a new career by Scott Whenman

Scott Whenman

Starting a new career

Hi all This is my first time using this site so please bear with me. I'm about to self publish my second novel and I have decided to try and convert my books into film. If all works out, I have plenty of ideas for more to keep me busy for the next 20 years. I'm 36 and decided I need to make something of my life,I hoping this is the right direction. If anyone has any advice or anything else, please contact me. Kindest regards Scott

Andy Byrne

Well - if you're happy with the material at your disposal, that's a start. Congrats on the second novel btw. Following on from Alle... Are you looking for specific advice on converting existing novel content to script? Or about tweaking a novel writer's mind to writing script? (Hint: One's easier than the other heh heh heh). What I found as a great difference (and great liberation) was (as an ex-long format writer who switched to screenwriting) the guiding lights of "show, don't tell" and "less is more". Truisms more than cliches. And they're especially relevant to the conversion from long-format writing to screenwriting. So, if it where me (and only my take on it), I'd be stripping the target novel back to it's core story and char arcs etc. I'd break it down into sequences (self-contained portions of the overall story - generally 10-15 mins long), spread 'em over the 3 acts and start trimming anything that's not important to keeping the story moving. Also, be brave and ditch scenes, characters you may like in long-format but that drag the script version down or just don't work. (I know, I know... they're your friends, you know them so well, but if it works without them in the story, they just gotta go). Not sure if it helps. Good on you for getting into it. It's worth the ecstatic agony.

Gail Clifford

Scott, Following on from the others... are your two novels related? Are you building a brand? Waiting to hear how we can help. Best,

Craig Cothren

I will save you a lot of time. Pick the strongest story you have that is "the same but different" to a movie genre that is popular now. Horror movies are by far the easiest to get made. Not everyone likes to write them. THE GET THE BOOK FROM MARILYN HOROWITZ ,"How to write a screenplay in 10 weeks, WORKBOOK'". Then write the first draft of your screenplay. It will be crap. Then get a profession 10 to 15 page review of your story. Then rewrite. Then pitch. Get your head kicked in and rewrite again. Repeat. I have no finanical interest in Marilyn Horowitz but having read 12 books, been coached by both LA and NYC coaches I will let you know now. DO NOT WRITE A MOVIE, WRITE A TV SHOW OR MINI SERIES, there is no money to made in the movies unless you are connected for the most part. Study how to make your books a Mini series. or a TV show or write a speck script for multiple TV shows. LAST TIP, always spend the $55 dollars to copyright your work before sending it in for consideration for a show. Not me but four friends who did not, about four months later saw their basic idea in a show they submitted for. Good luck...don't write a movie!

Craig Cothren

To expand on what I just said Google the Cohen Brothers, they are now more in TV and Mini series than movies and have been for about three to four years. They know. Follow the money with reconstructing your books.

Danny Manus

Jeffrey, you are giving the same bad advice in every single thread. And even making the same typos. Please, stop giving career advice to screenwriters if you don't really have any experience in the business. You're giving poor advice.

Scott Whenman

Hi all I've read all the comments and taken everything onboard. I have an idea for a sci/fi series, survival/horror theme. I've also got a trilogy planned about hooligans and the underground crime rings of London. I did start to plan a 7 book series about deranged serial killers, but I've left that alone for now. Although I write horror/thriller, I can also write sci/fi and fantasy. At the end of the day, I just love to write and make up stories. If I could do it for a living, It'd be a dream come true. I now know how hard it is to write, so I won't be taking it for granted anymore. I'm willing to work hard for this.

Mark Walker

Hi Scott, I was 37(ish) when I finally got my backside in gear and started writing, following a dream I'd had for years. Yes, I am an idiot for not starting before, but I'm having a lot of fun now regardless. I'm not published and am not an expert, so will limit my advice to write, write, write, and just have fun doing it and getting better. And best of luck wtih it. And, slightly cheekily, I am also a moderator on the Black Board (official writing forum of the Black LIst) where, like Stage 32, you will find lots of like-minded wrtiers discussing all sorts of writing topics from the very basics, up to more advanced stuff - in realtion to film and television. Pop over and have a look: Good luck!

Monique Mata

Ugh, Jeffrey, STOP! If you're writing to "follow the money", you're writing for all the wrong reasons.

Monique Mata

Welcome, Scott and congratulations on your new career. Be fearless and ask lots of questions :)

Scott Whenman

Thanks Monique. Any advice, whether good or bad is much appreciated, I'm new to all this so I'm learning as I go along.

Adam McCulloch

Just curious about your source material: did you try the traditional publishing route before deciding to self publish? If so you might want to re-look at the novels. If they didn't gain traction with a literary agent you probably won't do any better turning them into screenplays. What you might find though is that understanding story structure from a screenplay perspective might give you the tools you need to rewrite your novels and get them published via the traditional route.

Wade Cox

Welcome, Scott. Congratulations on your new career. I hope it works out. Do you know anything about script format or writing for the screen? If not, there are many helpful tutorials on the internet (some free, some not). If you don't have, or don't want to buy screenwriting software, but want your script in the proper format, might I suggest you check out, and for a nominal monthly fee, you can write your script on their software, and store it on the website and / or download it. Best of luck, Wade

Craig Cothren

Wade's comment is dead on. To do well you must understand structure. The easiest way I suggest is to ignore all the Blake Synder books and get Marilyn Horowitz work book which is called, "How to write a screenplay in 10 weeks". The reason for this suggestion is that when you first write it is easy to get stuck at page 75, "dark night of the soul". With Horowitz's book you will not. I also suggest try writing episodes for TV that accept outside scripts and submit them after copyrighting. Good luck.

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