07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jumping Into Screenplays

By Terri Darling

Along with romance, I write in a lot of other genres because, well, that’s how my brain works. If I stick with any one thing for too long and I get incredibly antsy. My writing suffers. My family suffers. So rather than make everyone suffer, I switch things up and keep everyone happy.
Terri Darling - sort of
(DISCLAIMER: writing in a lot of different genres, like working in a lot of different jobs, is not the quickest route to financial success…but it’s a lot of fun.)

But how did I get into screenplays specifically?

To start with, it should have been a no-brainer. My biggest interests growing up were all creative—writing, drawing, acting, singing. Over the years, with a few things like becoming a lawyer and full-time parent intervening, they got narrowed down to acting and writing. Why not combine them?

Reality set in when I spent about eighteen years writing and submitting novels and found it wasn’t so easy. And I sure wasn’t going to take on scriptwriting and Hollywood (where they eat their young) if I couldn’t make it past some fresh-faced, college-grad slush reader in New York.

Then the world changed. Suddenly we had digital publishing. I jumped in and…wow. Riches? Not yet. But consistent sales. Total freedom. Total control. A way to create a story and put it out there for people all over the world to buy. Talk about a golden age of opportunity.

Coincidentally, I finally stepped back into acting (which I’d put aside to raise kids), started reading and analyzing and acting the heck out of dozens and dozens of scripts, and realized three things: 1) I could write stuff better than some of this dreck, 2) I didn’t have to do Hollywood at all because movie makers now had YouTube and Vimeo, not to mention cheap video equipment and easy electronic submissions to film festivals, and 3) I needed to act in some well-written shorts to boost my star meter on IMDb.

So I bought a copy of Final Draft to handle all the formatting stuff (genius easy), and banged out a
script for a 12-minute short I’d been thinking about for quite some time. The actual writing from a fully-formed idea took about three days. I’ve got most of my crew ready to go. Still have to cast the other actors. Looking forward to the next stages with both overwhelm and excitement. Stay tuned.

Similarity to fiction writing: You read a bunch of a bunch of scripts (and probably books on screenwriting) to understand the form, just like you read lots of novels to understand novels, but at their hearts, screenplays are just story and character.

Biggest difference: While you can just write a story and either submit it or indie publish it, getting a screenplay to a place where people can view it (because only actors and directors read these things) almost always takes a team of people.

Author bio: Terri Darling is the romance pseudonym for a prolific Pacific Northwest author/actor who also writes literary, SF, fantasy, horror, erotica, mystery, and mainstream. You can find her romance novels, short stories, and collections every major e-book seller. Paperback versions coming soon.


Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Terri. From reading your post it looks like writing the play or screenplay is the easiest part - finding people who share your vision to act, etc. could be a real challenge!

Sarah Raplee said...

I agree with you, Terri, that this is a time of golden opportunity for artists and writers of every kind! There are so many opportunities for musicians, screenwriters, artists, even poets to get their work out there and connect with an audience.

I believe more of us will be able to make a living (not get rich) than ever before.

Enjoyed your post immensely!

Terri Darling said...

LOL, Judith. You're so right! Making movies is so collaborative that the screenwriter, who is often only there at the beginning of the process, gets pretty much forgotten in all the machinery that gets rolling once the script is done.

That said, there ain't a movie without a script. And if you decide to produce/direct/whatever your own script, you get to expand your creative vision from simple words on the page into a physical manifestation of it (that incidentally gets recorded for other people to see).

Terri Darling said...

Thanks, Sarah. I think you're right about more of us being able to make a living at creative endeavors than ever before. And at more different types of creative endeavors, too. With the barriers of entry so low to things like movie making or recording songs that millions might see, creative polyglots like myself can't help but stick a toe into that area we've always wanted to explore.

Like I said, not always the best strategy. It spreads your time and energy a lot. But life is wide. I'd rather embrace huge chunks of it while I'm here.