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Old 06-21-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
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Default The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

It was an idea started in the SuperheroSkype thread by ComicChick and I think it's great idea to implement.

So let's talk about writing! What do you guys write about? How much do you write a day? What is your process when coming up with ideas? How do you juggle writing with other commitments? What advice would you have for other writers? Where does your inspiration comes from?

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Old 06-21-2013, 09:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I'll make a more detailed post about this when I'm less tired, but this is a fantastic idea for a thread.

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I'm currently writing for an upcoming web-series. I stick to mostly screenplay format these days.

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I'm currently on page 407 (nearly done) of Book 3 of a sci-fi series that's probably gonna be 7 books total.

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))



I'm currently halfway (I think) through my second fantasy novel. The first one (which you all may know about since I won't shut up about it ) is finished, though being the perfectionist I am I still feel the need to tweak and perfect things until such time as they're set in stone (and by stone I mean print). Been trying to land a literary agent for the last 4-5 years, still no luck but I press on!

Shall we compare synopses?

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

Great thread idea.

I write Batman fanscripts at the moment. I've finished 3 and am almost done a 4th but I plan to redo 2 of them. The end result should be 6 scripts.

And I have a lot of ideas for (mostly) sci fi scripts afterwards.

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

If any of you are interested in fantasy and (real, i.e. badass) werewolves my book thread is here: Legacy of the Wolven


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Old 06-21-2013, 10:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I'm only about a quarter of the way through a very rough draft of my first YA novel. I'm also working on two graphic novels that I haven't actually started writing, but have lately been outlining and doing some research for.

I started the novel after I graduated but once I started working it got put on the back burner. For work, I currently have a sweet gig writing advertising copy but it often keeps from working on my personal projects. It's really hard to find the time and energy to write when it's also your day job. I spend all day writing for work and once I'm done I rarely feel like staying at my desk to do more writing.

Any advice? Good thread idea, Parker Wayne.

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:45 PM   #9
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I'm only about a quarter of the way through a very rough draft of my first YA novel. I'm also working on two graphic novels that I haven't actually started writing, but have lately been outlining and doing some research for.

I started the novel after I graduated but once I started working it got put on the back burner. For work, I currently have a sweet gig writing advertising copy but it often keeps from working on my personal projects. It's really hard to find the time and energy to write when it's also your day job. I spend all day writing for work and once I'm done I rarely feel like staying at my desk to do more writing.

Any advice? Good thread idea, Parker Wayne.
I too commend Peter Bruce

My advice would be to keep thinking. Think about where you want the story to go, and then take baby steps on how you can get there. OR, and this is what I'm doing with my second novel, take a more "filmmaker's approach" to it; by that I mean knock out the major scenes that you KNOW will be in the book and just hammer them out so you have them down.

Just a few things to help get you started

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:50 PM   #10
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My advice would be to keep thinking. Think about where you want the story to go, and then take baby steps on how you can get there. OR, and this is what I'm doing with my second novel, take a more "filmmaker's approach" to it; by that I mean knock out the major scenes that you KNOW will be in the book and just hammer them out so you have them down.

Just a few things to help get you started
Thanks, but that's pretty much what I already do. It's really the only thing I feel like I can do, is to think in depth about my plots and character, and occasionally write them down as an outline or by doing some free writing. It's finding the time to actually write my stuff that's the biggest problem.

Some have advised me to take a writer's vacation and rent out a cabin or hotel somewhere and seclude myself to get it done. I would love to try that but getting away from work and other obligations (not to mention expenses) that keeps me from doing that.

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Old 06-21-2013, 10:52 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

Dude, just write in your notes app (or the equivalent if you don't have an iPhone)! You could be the digital J. K. Rowling, she wrote, what, HALF of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on napkins?

Utilize your resources and build bit by bit

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Old 06-22-2013, 12:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

Currently, I am in the process of marketing my novel. When I was working on it, last school year (the 20th draft, to be precise,) I pounded out an average of 2.5-3k words a day. Since completing it, I have been working on three screenplays (one of them an adaptation of it,) and a new novel.

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Old 06-22-2013, 12:24 AM   #13
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I have an idea for a novel, based on a short story I wrote. It's just gonna take a very large amount of research and outlining before I'd ever be comfortable actually writing it.

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Old 06-22-2013, 12:46 AM   #14
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I want to do for fantasy what Michael Moorcock did for science fiction with his Jerry Cornelius stories. He was a standard-bearer for the New Wave of science fiction, which put character above concept (say time travel, futuristic tech etc). So I want to take concepts from my medical biologies and use them to ground my world's magic system. Rather than write a doorstop, I'm aiming for "epic science and sorcery" where you have a story with a broad scope in a single 300 (give or take) page book.

I find that I can't start a story after worldbuilding. I need to put that away for a week before I go to writing. Otherwise I'll end up halting the plot to show off my work, rather than letting it flow naturally. Bane and Talia from TDKR really inspired my heroes. I'm aiming for heroes who you might view as villains. Until you meet the actual villains, whom I hope are the greater evil.

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Old 06-22-2013, 02:10 AM   #15
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I've written 2 plays that were performed at my college's theatre department. One idea came from a joke me and this girl had that I turned into the basis of a comedy, and another idea came from a reimagining of a ghost story I've heard as a child that I turned into a romance ghost story.

I have a bunch of other plays that I've written that weren't performed, ranging from 10 minute plays to one acts, as well as an unfinished screenplay that I started but haven't finished.

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Old 06-22-2013, 09:18 AM   #16
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

Been outlining a few ideas for some short stories for the school literary magazine. I feel like I'm not ready to try and tackle a novel again after my last attempt.

I did however, on Tuesday finish draft one of my first screenplay attempt, spending a lot of time looking over that.

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Old 06-22-2013, 09:10 PM   #17
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I've wrote a few comic scripts for my original characters last year. Now I'm working on a superhero novel. I've been thinking of trying my hand in screenplays but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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Old 06-22-2013, 09:14 PM   #18
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This is me:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5617537/bio

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Old 06-22-2013, 11:08 PM   #19
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Some have advised me to take a writer's vacation and rent out a cabin or hotel somewhere and seclude myself to get it done. I would love to try that but getting away from work and other obligations (not to mention expenses) that keeps me from doing that.
I'd actually say don't do that at all, since that tends to be when writer's block seems to set in the worst. When you try to force yourself to be creative and to "just get it done."

Just carry around a notepad and pencil everywhere you go, or the digital equivalent and scribble down thoughts, ideas, and outlines as they come to you.

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Old 06-22-2013, 11:36 PM   #20
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

I'll post here, but I am wary, I'm a screenwriter with one script right now being reviewed by Universal to offer feedback notes on for possible further development and they're awaiting another script to be sent their way which a producer is currently reading over right now.

My most recent undertaking is a huge biopic that's looking to be 170 pages long (same as 'The Aviator,' any shorter and it would feel like cliff-notes that's how massive this guy's life is and we all know his name). That's basically just a black list and another sample type thing, but if this person could have a biopic (which in previous years it's been said that's unlikely) it might at least spark something. I doubt I'll be kept on if it does though.

With that said, I'm not at the point where I can easily help anyone out - but that's looking to be a definite within the next year or two at the most. 25 right now. I got here due to my executive and VP mentors holding me up so I believe very strongly in paying it forward. I got here by sheer luck, but I don't believe luck should be everything. So, if anyone wants help to progress - feel free to shoot me a line - I can't do anything now, but I can and will definitely be looking to help as many people as I can in the future.

What do you guys write about?

My theme is stories about a young man having to overcome his past and accept who he is to move on to happiness. The reverse of this being, and only two have gone down this road, if the young man can't accept it then his life falls apart. In a broad variety of genres. I've even tackled musicals before.

How much do you write a day?

On a good day I can get in a good ten or a little more solid pages a day.

What is your process when coming up with ideas?

They just come to me. It's very natural and I describe it to being possessed. I'll try to narrow this down some more.

For writing -- I just sit down, put my hands on the computer and start to type and everything comes to me. If it starts becoming a process where I have to stop and think things through, I know that something is off.

For coming up with ideas - as said, this just comes naturally. The more time you spend looking, the less you're going to find. The less you look, you're going to find more than you even know what to do with.

For information not readily available to you -- research, research, research!!! Let's just say there's this script about a certain young boy who finds a watch which allows him to become many different aliens. Even there I did research. I watched everything I could that pertained to it including things one might not think of -- documentaries on the history of alien contact with earth throughout history. Yeah, it's a children's story but still you must always give it the utmost of your time and respect if you truly want to get things right. With biopics, write down as many notes as you can from as many sources as you can then organize all of them to easily reference back to.

How do you juggle writing with other commitments?

I am a work-a-holic, I don't consider myself someone to be modeled after in those regards lol.

What advice would you have for other writers?

I wrote this a couple of years ago when I was an intern and another intern similarly agreed with everything here:

Quote:
I've learned a lot from the experiences I've had over the years that not many would have the experience of. The main things I learned that are integral are (1) you need to have the film be "commercial", (2) you need constant rising of stakes. This can be accomplished very easily actually once you start viewing things as business and math.

Rising stakes is most observable in TELEVISION shows actually which might be why some haven't picked up on it. It's more observable due to commercial breaks making it more evident. Every ten minutes there needs to be a new rising and falling action and each subsequent chapter or act has to be connected to the previous and include a whole new rising and falling action that is higher than the previous. What this overall creates is a sense of a continual forward push and drive of things getting better and worse, the function of the "roller coaster" as the reader examines it. Every ten pages the story needs to move forward and the stakes need to rise. This is not saying have it be mini-films within each other, this is why I bring up the structure of television. Act one is the intro and ends on a high note, it blends into act two which ends on a high note, which blends into Act three and so on.

The greatest learning experience I've ever had was having to write and manage a virtual series for four years. This taught me how to do television and how to have a continual push forward with the stakes constantly rising. If there's one error I see in a lot of scripts that I read, there is no continual drive or constant high notes that are hit. These notes are integral not only because of the stakes but because it gives it an overall driving force.

It's also the basics of story telling - even comedies do this, if you pay attention - it goes all the way back to Joseph Campbell and the best way I can summarize this. Remember when we were all taught the ROAD OF TRIALS? Thats important, that's more than important - that's central. That's KEY. That's the ROSETTA STONE to story telling. That Road of Trials has to exist in every story and is the heart of the second act. There has to be continual obstacles, continual overcoming and progressing to the final note. This is the forward drive. Learn it, memorize it, KNOW IT. Trust me, as a reader, that's the most important thing to a story - continual rising of stakes and a key forward movement drive.

You need all characters to be developed. Imagine actors in roles and tailor it towards them and their voice, this might take a while to learn, but truth is when people read scripts they are trying to figure out who to cast (once again, a business secret). For the characters and plots to be metaphors for the overall film. This makes every single character in the film important. Once again, study television, because it can be most obviously seen there. Characters need to be continual if you start a character off as creepy and want them to go nice - you should have shown some signs to that side of their personality. I've seen a lot of bi-polar characters in class. Just because you need a character to get on the nerves of your protagonist doesn't mean they need to get on the nerves of the audience. Just because you want two evil characters to be likable doesn't mean you have to tone them down.

Due to the virtual series I can turn a good guy, make him a bad guy and have you still root for him. I can take the devil and make him feel as real as any other character. I can take monsters, ghouls and goblins and have it be realistic. This i what the virtual series dealt with - in a sense - that further helped me learn. Any skilled writer can take any historical monster or serial killer and make him a sympathetic hero if the writer so chooses. One commercial film that I've seen that has the rooting protagonist become a frightening antagonist is "Law Abiding Citizen," while it's an alright film - there is no doubt that this reversal of view in character was brilliantly created by that writer. That's the power of the writer. But, it also has to be consistent in that it builds to that otherwise you have a bi-polar character that jumps from insanity to philosopher within a page with no explanation. A great writing exercise would be writing a short film about the devil and rather than making the devil a bad guy, make him a hero - these kinds of challenges such as seeing the apocalypse as necessary, demons as just and humans as errors in creation has threw me through a lot of learning curves over the years (alongside audience reaction to judge how these "roller coaster tracks" are reacted to)

Establish a tone. Every scene has to be important - if nothing in a scene progresses the story or reveals something important, delete it - just slows the pace. Being a commercial film does not rid you of your "independent drive" these two can be together without selling out via the "small details" which are small but huge in the long run; also it's more marketable - one hidden question, as a reader, that I constantly ask is "what's the selling point?" "who's the audience?" Basically this is asking what the general populace at large would want to see, the more you can adapt to demographics and try to bring in a strong angle for each - the closer you get. It's a business, but yet again - for every 'Cat Woman' you have films like 'The Dark Knight' proving that you can be commercial while also with an independent mind base. If it's an independent style film - watch those and you'll see they follow the same form and are similarly marketable. John Hughes once stated before he wrote a film he (1) visualized the poster and (2) imagined what the trailer would be. I also do this and if it's lost I find a way to put it back in. That's it for the business side, now back on track --

I learned this through the best school I ever attended - self-taught with managing a virtual series. Television is the "basics" of story-telling and study that and believe me - all aspiring writers will be better for it. Just thought, after a semester of reading, that I should try to solve and bring up the important method of the "forward thrust." It's a series of obstacles. Road of Trials. Keep Campbell's hero journey as your bible, it's worked since the beginning of time and still works today. The trick is, and I know this will be difficult for some to understand and I can't really explain it any easier is: "writing is a different form of math, letters replace number" but they both have formulas proven to work that over time you unconsciously adhere to. Thus it's not "chains," to start yourself off - you might see it that way, but truth is once you get used to it - it becomes as natural as breathing air. Writing is math.
Also:

Quote:
Basically, how do you capture interest in Hollywood?

DIFFERENT, YET FAMILIAR

You want to write something that has never been seen before or is a new take on something classic. I view the world as one big metaphor. Some people say a guy losing his mind has to find out who he is, I say a werewolf has to find out who he is. That's just the way my mind works. I don't like everything spelled out to me - the world as it is, isn't that interesting me. Yet if you twist it just enough, it suddenly takes on a whole new meaning and perspective. I write "different" mainly because I just naturally view things that way. I also love breaking all the rules. Thus, while I can be familiar - especially if it's an assignment under someone where it's not my voice - it's always going to be a wacky zany ride no matter the genre or seriousness.

I just want to write what I love watching. I'm not a big indie guy. Thus, I don't write indie - why bother? I'd never get it. I view the world as a metaphor. Maybe it's a "barrier" to feel safe due to some of the things I've experienced, but that "barrier" has given me my voice of disconnection with connection.

So how do you capture Hollywood's attention? Well I'll tell you what NOT to do:

1) Be completely and totally original thinking it's great how artistic you are. These kinds of scripts are usually laughable because they are so out of left field. The Easter Bunny fighting the Vatican? I've heard of it.
2) Follow what you think Hollywood wants. Hollywood DOESN'T want the same old film over and over again. It may seem that way, but executives hate those - why do you see those? Sadly those are the scripts Hollywood keeps on being sent by all of you guys. Write what you want to see, not what you think they want to (although it is perfect when these align).
3) Writing something with a narrowed audience in mind, while these do sell - typically you need to be established and for Hollywood to trust you. Being 'indie' - you already need established trust. High concept original ideas work, character dramas with not much to sell are much harder to sell even for the really established writers.

Also remember your actor, you want to give them something that would be extraordinarily fun to play. Maybe it's just me liking to act as well and knowing when one script stands out to me on those ends, but I also look out for that. What journey can I take this guy or girl through that they may never go through otherwise?

And another important point - that writers typically get made fun over - BLEED ONTO THE PAGE. As a script reader the only scripts I ever recommended usually were the ones where I felt like I was seeing the writer naked on the page. I was seeing their pros, flaws, and struggles as a human being. That's interesting. Note - in a screenwriting magazine, Michael Shannon says the scripts that capture his attention are the ones where he can clearly see the writer truly struggling with something in his life and using the page as the means to the end. Don't be afraid to be genuine.
Where does your inspiration comes from?

As artistic and new-age as this sounds, it just flows. I don't go looking for it, it finds me.

What do you want to do?

I want to challenge the rules. I want to break down the formulas and kick the walls down while still being familiar and marketable. I relate a lot to Joss Whedon in this way and especially 'Cabin in the Woods.' It's also what has always drawn these big time mentors to me. My favorite ideas are the ones where you get the reaction, "why the hell has nobody made that into a movie yet?!" This reaction is what keeps my mentors glued to me. The most repetitive excuse is 'all the great movies have been made.' But, really when you look outside of the box? There's plenty more out there just waiting to be found. Just be wacky, true, and genuine - perfect example: a teenager travels back through time where he had to reunite his parents. Look outside the box, if you look to all these classic originals from the 80s they all experimented and went to places no one had really thought to go before. And who knows, you might find one or several of them. My current goal which Universal has shown strong interest in is completely breaking down the barrier between the audience and the screen. And depending on how that and this goes, hopefully I'll be able to stay around to update that one; that's been one of my dreams since I was 15 and first came here.

Most important word of advice?

Persistence. Be genuine. Never stop being you. Never sell out. Just write what you like, not what others expect from you. Surprise them. That said, don't surprise them too much.

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Old 06-22-2013, 11:58 PM   #21
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To expand on my previous post:

my published and recognized work (thus far) includes:

-one script (and film). It was an adaptation of Stephen King's short story "One for the Road," which was approved by his agent.

-a column (my review of Skyfall) which won a Keystone Award for Journalism.

Currently, as I have posted before, here and in the Confession thread, I am trying to get my novel published. I wrote what I felt was a terrific interpretation of it - film lends itself to different storytelling, so I made some terrific changes to suit the medium, and address the tension between audience members who would have read the text and those did not (in short, all bets are off.)

Ideally, I would like to have it published, so I could try to find an agent and hopefully plant a foot in the outskirts of the territory of the film industry. At this point, it is my best (and highly desperate and somewhat impractical) option for pursuing screenwriting. I cannot move out to Los Angeles, due to debt and other circumstances, and I cannot fund any films, either. One dream method of fulfilling said dream would be being accepted to USC and networking there; however, due to my lack of published scholarly papers, the odds of being accepted into the program, and having funding are extremely unlikely.

Hence, the novel is currently my best and only option for entering the nearly impermeable boundaries of said industry.

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"I've known since I first took over the series that I wanted to eventually have someone else pick up the hammer," says the writer. "It's kind of a time-honored Thor tradition at this point, isn't it? Going back to the days of Beta Ray Bill."
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:17 AM   #22
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

A thought:

Since many of us are trying to get our works published, let's use this thread to encourage and help out those of our fellow writers in our endeavors. Share query letters, offer criticisms, direct us to agents who might be best suited or most receptive to our particular works. Every author dreams of seeing their work on bookshelves; we can help achieve our dreams together

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Old 06-23-2013, 01:23 AM   #23
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

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Originally Posted by Turambar View Post
A thought:

Since many of us are trying to get our works published, let's use this thread to encourage and help out those of our fellow writers in our endeavors. Share query letters, offer criticisms, direct us to agents who might be best suited or most receptive to our particular works. Every author dreams of seeing their work on bookshelves; we can help achieve our dreams together
As said -- I can't help any screenwriters right now, but I'd be more than willing to in relative due time and that's handing the scripts right to Universal if I really see something in them (they're kinda like family to me). That said, I could potentially help out those novelists who write horror, crime, or action (like gritty action, not adventure or fantasy). The mentors I know are specifically geared towards that and are always looking at everything they can to find material. Basically saying, those novelists who are more geared towards that - I could potentially pass along now.

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Old 06-23-2013, 01:40 AM   #24
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

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As said -- I can't help any screenwriters right now, but I'd be more than willing to in relative due time and that's handing the scripts right to Universal if I really see something in them (they're kinda like family to me). That said, I could potentially help out those novelists who write horror, crime, or action (like gritty action, not adventure or fantasy). The mentors I know are specifically geared towards that and are always looking at everything they can to find material. Basically saying, those novelists who are more geared towards that - I could potentially pass along now.
I understand. I'm sure you know by now that I write fantasy, but it's heavy-action fantasy, and no matter the genre of novel a query is the hardest damn thing to write, because you have to catch the agent's eye and hold it and make them want more of what you have. I myself have gotten *this close*, but I haven't yet found that ONE agent who'd be willing to take on as daunting a task as representing my novel

But seriously, how hard is it to sell the idea of an epic fantasy novel repurposing Atlantis mythology and Werewolf folklore with themes of honor, empathy and perseverance, heavy in gore and violence as well as having a lot of heart?

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Old 06-23-2013, 01:46 AM   #25
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Default Re: The Writer's thread (Authors, Screenwriters, playwrights, etc.))

Sounds interesting, or it might just be that I love two of those things. I can see that as a book. Maybe film if it can be easily adapted (just look at I Frankenstein for odd ideas being made into films). I should also state it's just this narrowed now, once I get more connections that deal with other subjects I can pass those along too. So, the narrowing down of it above doesn't have to do with how sellable genres may be - just that that's the kind of material who I know look for, if that makes sense...

ADDING: I don't know how books and publishing works, but with an idea like that you could try to jump start by self-publishing over amazon. Some people do that. and having two things some people really love, might get some traction that way.


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