I wrote my first screenplay in 1998, the same year I had my first child. I sent the script, a period biography, to a professional reader who gave me positive feedback with major structural changes which temporarily sidelined my screenwriting career.
In 2008, while shopping at a local farmer's market, a full-fledged story popped into my head. I found a spot to sit and wrote the entire script as it came to me. I rewrote it and sent it to a cousin who's in the film industry. He wrote back politely explaining that the structure was all wrong and though the story was interesting, Act 1 was way too long, Act 2 was way too short and Act 3 was completely missing.
I wrote another script and sent it to the Page Awards where I actually managed to make it over the first hurdle to the quarter finals but no further.
In 2010, after getting laid-off my job, I dove head first in to learning the craft of screenwriting. I read numerous books and tried once more to rewrite my second script. I sent it to readers who were confused by it. I admittedly was confused by it also. What did my protagonist want? How could I make her more proactive?
I shelved the script, sat down and came up with six other script ideas. I tried writing a couple of them and spent two years crafting another script. I sent it to the Black List for review and was told it too was confusing. I sent it to the Writer's Store for coverage, they too wanted more clarity. I tried rewriting it but it only got more confusing. However, through the process, I discovered the underlying theme that I wanted to express and that was a huge discovery for me.
I tried writing two more scripts before landing on the one I'm currently working on which is more than half-way plotted out.
I love writing screenplays even though they are so incredibly hard to write. As an amateur photographer and playwriting major, I love the melding of image and dialogue. I also love the fact that each time I start a new screenplay, I learn something new about me and my process.
Someone told me at a Robert McKee seminar that it takes 10,000 hours for a person to "master" their craft. I can happily say that I crossed that line a couple of years ago when I noticed how easily my words flowed, how different the writing process felt; I had arrived and I felt it. I was a real writer but not yet a screenwriter. That genre needed more study and practice to reach 10,000 hours.
This time around, my process is different from any other script I've written. I'm plotting the structure on 3x5 cards and note pads. I'm working on the treatment and making notes in my journal. I've discovered that when my story is working, it feels smooth and when it isn't it feels really bumpy.
I try to avoid all the hype of contests, and classes at this point in my process. I realize there is a lot of big money to be made from people like me wanting to break in to the industry. Everyone wants the magic pill that will change their lives with one dose. And conversely, there are thousands of "professional" claiming to have that magic pill for only a few thousand dollars. The truth as I've discovered it, is it's all about focusing on the writing. When the time comes, I'll engage in those contests and pitch festivals but not before I'm ready.
Writing screenplays takes time and practice. Lucky for me, I love writing them. I love seeing the scenes play out in my head. I love watching what my characters do and say. The process reveals my inner needs and desires to me. I've also discovered how to trust the process. How to explore the situation that initially led me to put finger to keyboard, or in my case, pencil to paper. I've found there is a reason behind why I came up with my idea and like a newly wrapped puzzle, all the pieces are there, I just have to find the right ones, turning them around to see which on is the right fit.
My goal is to succeed as a screenwriter. I want to option and sell my script so I can quit my job and write full time.
Name: Karen Franklin
Lives in: San Francisco, California
Unique traits: Creative, motivated, tenacious.