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Novelists! Writing a Script? Read This

July 15, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

I’ve written 28 books. I am a USA Today and Amazon best selling novelist. I worked with New York publishers for 25 years. I launched an indie career three years ago. I have taught writing at the UCLA Writers Program, conferences and lectured to writing groups. I thought I was pretty savvy. I thought I could write anything. Then I met my Waterloo. I wrote a screenplay. Actually, I wrote two.

My first one was an original romantic comedy, Saving Seymour, and my second a psychological thriller based on Keeping Counsel, my USA Today bestseller. Both are in development, both have attachments, but the first one almost sent me to the cliff. Generally, what I learned during the process of writing Saving Seymour is as follows:

  • Writing a screenplay is one of the most difficult things a writer can do. 
  • Listen to your producer if you’re lucky enough to have one. He/she truly does know what he/she is talking about even though they don’t write. 
  • When you’re done, don’t buy your dress (or rent your tux) for the red carpet. In the years it takes to actually produce a movie your tastes are bound to change. 

By the time I wrote my second script, I learned a few specific things that made the transition from novelist to screenwriter a lot less crazy making. Here are the top five tips:

  • Be focused. You have minutes to establish whose story it is and the tone of your script. The leisure of a novelist’s scene setting is out the window. Know who your hero is, what the arc is, where the story takes place and what is critical to the telling of the tale. 
  • Be brief. Keep direction to a minimum. Your job is to communicate the story with just enough force, intelligence and excitement that director and actors can interpret that story visually and orally. 
  • Be budget conscious. Okay, you’re not a line-producer, but you can make a difference as to whether producing your movie is attractive for investors. Keep set pieces to a minimum and you not only streamline the story, you streamline the budget. 
  • Be hyper-aware of dialogue. Dialogue needs to be natural, informative & evocative with an eye toward time conservation. Choose your words carefully. Rethink sentence structure. Tighten, Tighten. The reader of a book loses herself in dialogue; a moviegoer will be lost if you don’t get to the point. 
  • Show-don’t-tell. A sense of urgency can be communicated by showing a car speeding away than through dialogue urging a character to hurry. If there is a place where a visual will communicate more than dialogue, use it. 

Visit me at: http://www. Rebeccaforster.com. Look for my books on Amazon.com (print & digital), iBookstore, Barnes & Nobel.com, etc. etc. (digital),or Audible.com. I’ll let you know the minute I get my dress for the premiers of Saving Seymour and Keeping Counsel. In the meantime, happy writing; stay sane.

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