Monday, March 23, 2020

Tips on Writing a Screenplay & a big REVEAL!

If you don't know Heather Holden, you should. She's a fantastic artist with a unique style. And she writes hilarious vampire/horror comics. I've been dying (haha) to have her draw something for me, and finally decided to commission Gabe - he needed a new look. And here he is!

Gabe Thorntry by Heather Holden

Now in this snapshot of Gabe, can you see he's short? He's also smart with his book (haha) and a little unsure of himself, but a pretty happy guy in high school. And he's a green goblin. That's a lot to get from a picture, but it's all there, captured by the artist!

And as my last guest post of the Taking Back Beast World campaign, I'm excited to be at Heather's place talking about Gabe's journey in visuals!

I re-published BROKEN BRANCH FALLS, Beast World Book One 
for KINDLE! Yippee!

Now, on to the topic at hand:


I love having so many terrific writers as friends--I get exposed to so many great stories! And I'd love to see them up on the big screen or as a series on the small screen. I've even offered to collaborate on writing screenplays with some of them. Unfortunately, it's just one more thing on my never ending want to do list... But it's definitely not at the bottom.

If you've ever pictured your book as a movie, you should try turning it into a screenplay! This is especially good for short stories, and you'll see why in a moment. You can also dive straight from an idea into a screenplay. Here, I've gathered some pros & cons & tips for writing a Screenplay:
  • Downsizing - This is the hardest part. If you start with a 300-400 page MS, you have to cut it down to 100-120 pages! This is because one page of a screenplay = one minute of film. And the pages are severely formatted, think minimalist. 
    • Things that are easy to cut: You don't need paragraphs describing the characters' inner thoughts--they're acted out. No detailed descriptions of scenes--they're part of the set. Any minor scenes that don't move the story along, cut 'em.
    • Things not so easy to cut: characters or scenes you love, but the story could be told without them. It's going to be hard to determine who stays and who goes. And some scenes will have to be rolled into one or rewritten entirely in the interest of time. This is why the movies are so often lacking when compared to the book... 
  • Formatting - There are many programs and software packages that will help you format your screenplay. I cannot afford such things, especially when I am willing to search for a cheaper alternative, which I found. There's a terrific Word Doc Template, and it's very easy to use, once you get the hang of it. But you definitely need to know this important part of the process!
  • Take Control - With all the cutting that must be done, you should be the one to do it. You know the story and know what is necessary and what isn't. You also have to be honest with yourself. You have to cut it down to the essentials only -- and you have to visualize what that looks like. Will it make a good movie? Can you juice up any scenes to make them more visually stimulating? Cut, cut, and rewrite, then cut some more.
  • Don't Lose Control - Make sure you are a part of any rewriting or editing decisions if your MS gets picked up. They never leave it as is. Be flexible, but be heard!
  • Research - So important to research! Go read a screenplay of a movie you know... many are available in the public domain! Sign up for Script Writing newsletters and follow other screenwriters who seem to know what they're doing. Read up on formatting and tips for pacing. SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder is a splendid guideline for writing a screenplay (or writing a book!) It has loads of info you'd never think of, but it's true and eye-opening. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Screenplay writing can be invigorating and exciting. It can also be somewhat traumatizing. Either way, it's something to consider, especially with so many competitive venues for visual entertainment.

One last thing... Funny how things work out!
I planned my Taking Back Beast World campaign post topics over a month ago--that way I don't have to scrounge up ideas to write about. As you know, this last week was Screenplays. Then, by happy coincidence, I just received some exciting news: I made it to the Quarter Finals of a Script-writing contest!

A few months ago, I transformed JOLISSA - AN ANTI-PRINCESS STORY into a screenplay and submitted it to an animated script contest. I was so excited to find out I made the first cut! I don't know how much farther I'll go, but I've been floating with that awesome recognition. Wish me luck!

Ever consider writing a screenplay? Go for it!
Are there any books you'd like to see on the big or small screen?

Still giving away free ebooks! Just ask!

Stay distant, but stay in touch!
Stay smart and stay safe!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations, Tara!
I would like to see my books as movies and I'd have no problem trimming them down. Good thing they are all short to begin with.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats, Tara! I'd love to write a book and have it turned into a movie. It would be good to learn about screenwriting so I could have some input into the movie. But first I must finish the book.

Patricia Josephine aka Patricia Lynne said...

Heathe did a great job. I love her artwork.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tara - what a wonderful job Heather did with Gabe for you ... he does look 'fun'. While your screnplay ideas seem wonderful ... I'll need to be back to take stock - good luck with all your projects - cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I would love to see a book of mine on any screen, but it's not really something I can wrap my brain around.

Love the picture of Gabe. She did a great job!

Juneta key said...

Whoa ho Wow! Congrats on making the finals in the screenplay contest. Great post and tips. Your campaign was awesome inspiring. Cheering you on.

L. Diane Wolfe said...


Research what to do with that screenplay when it's polished and ready, too.

Sherry Ellis said...

I never thought about writing a screenplay, but these are really good tips.

Congrats on making the Quarter Finals!

Heather R. Holden said...

Thanks for the kind words! Happy I could do Gabe justice for you.

And great screenwriting tips! I used to dabble in it, but that's already been many years ago, heh. Also, so exciting about the script-writing contest! Congrats on making it into the quarter finals!

Jacqui Murray said...

These sound really good. There are so many similarities between novels and screenplays. Not structure but lots of other pieces.

Mirka Breen said...

I'm always asked to ADD to word count, as my first drafting is terse and needs more... Either way, good to know what remedies most likely need implementing (such as my overuse of passive construction, like here ;) )

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congratulations, Tara!! You rock! And thank you for sharing your tips.

Yolanda Renée said...

That is truly awesome! Congratulations!
Turning a 300-page book into a 100-page screenplay is a true challenge! Good for you! Gabe is adorable!

Mark Murata said...

Thanks for the tip on the Word Doc Template. Also, have you used Jessica Brody's companion book, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel ?