The Novice Screenwriter – Part 2

Since announcing my new project, I’ve been doing some online research into the whole business of movies and scriptwriting, and what I’m finding is not encouraging, or particularly edifying. I feel like a total babe in the woods, the rankest of amateurs—how dare I even attempt such an undertaking, when there are hundreds, nay, thousands of starving scriptwriters out there unable to sell their worthy efforts to studios. So, they’ve turned to the business of selling themselves as consultants, and for a sizeable fee, they can guide you, too, toward the scriptwriting success that apparently is eluding them. I’m told you really need an agent, but an agent won’t take you on if you’re nobody. I’ve been reading the Cardinal Rules of Scriptwriting and Submission, and how I have to write at least five or six screenplays before I produce anything remotely worth reading, and I’ve read the Ten Mistakes all Scriptwriters should Avoid., realizing I’ve already made about six of them. And I’ve learned that if I’m really serious about writing a script, I should drop everything, move to Hollywood and get a job fetching coffee for movie producers. Also, that novelists as a rule should never try to adapt their novels, or attempt a screenplay of their own work—that, I’m told, is Best Left to Professionals. Don’t try this at home!


So the idea of this learning-center teacher tapping out the script of her forgotten novel at her dining room table in New Jersey is probably ludicrous beyond compare. But I’m going to do it anyway. I’m not going to hire a consultant, or buy any more books, or spend any more time lurking on screenwriter forums. What I will do is continue to live my life, read great books, watch lots of great movies, and just plod along with my own efforts. And then edit, edit, edit.

Once it’s done…Haven’t a clue! I only know, dimly, that I somehow have to interest a producer in it. But I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. A few years ago, our local library had a vaguely famous screenwriter give a presentation; I’m kicking myself now for not going to it. But I’ll figure it out. And if I don’t, it’s been a great experience just attempting it, trying something new. A great break from the chore of novel-writing—yet still being creative and productive. I see no downside. Yet.

Which leads me to another issue. Since releasing this last novel, I’m being targeted by these companies offering awards to writers. Not the Pulitzer committee or anything prestigious, but these are committees, panels, what-have-you which invite you to submit your book—often for a hefty fee—on the chance they’ll give you some kind of award, a gold sticker you can plaster on the front of your book. I do not know what to think of this. On one hand, anything that draws attention to your book should be good, but these just feel so spammy to me. Do readers really care if your book has won all kinds of awards? I suppose you could look at it as a kind of marketing and promotion campaign, but it just seems kind of pathetic to me. I think I can do without a gold seal on the cover of my book; I’ll take my chances.

Oh, this business of writing and getting published! I hate it! Love the writing part,love having written, but hate all the other aspects of it! Meanwhile The Novice Master is mired in the no-sales doldrums of the publishing sea–as expected, but didn’t expect it this soon. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, I have no idea  (although according to various media, January seems to be a poor month in general for overall book sales), but there’s nothing to do but wait it out, and have hope. Hope that all those Goodreaders who won my book will be kind of enough to leave me some reviews!

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