I had, what I thought, was a great idea for the Pitch Wars competition this year. Apparently it wasn’t good enough because I didn’t get chosen to receive a mentor who would shepherd my book into the market.
I’ll have to say that I’m actually quite relieved.
The truth is that I’m focused so much on writing a screenplay right now that writing a novel is the last thing on my mind. I’m about half-way through David Trottier’s “Screenwriter’s Bible” and I can tell you that I have not been more excited about a writing project since I was writing the Terminarch trilogy.
The question posed to me by my film industry contact was: “You write novels, but you don’t write screenplays? Why not?” This question has been forever burned into my creative mind, causing me to realize that perhaps my forte and my future writing projects might all be screenplays.
I feel like I am more suited to writing screenplays anyway. I’m a huge film buff, love to tell a good exciting story, and am living smack dab in the middle of a state whose current film industry is growing exponentially. I feel like I’m sitting on a heap of un-tapped potential.
The trick to writing a winning screenplay is actually pretty simple. You just have to do four basic things:
Write a screenplay which can be placed into at least three genres. The more genres, the more marketable it will be.
Write a spec script, not a shooting script. The spec script is the rough outline, mostly action, which shows the beginning, middle and end of your story. It should be more action than dialogue.
Write a screenplay that is cheaply produced. The fewer special effects and exotic locations included in the screenplay the better.
Know someone in the industry. I hate to say it, but it is definitely about who you know. It’s not that hard to get involved. There are film companies in every major city in the US and Canada. Look them up, offer to be an extra, rub elbows, see if you can make a few friends.
Luckily, I have all four of these covered. Now I just have to get the thing done. I plan on entering the Austin Film Festival screenplay contest in March. I should have something to offer them by then. Even the finalists in the contest get to read their script in front of a room of agents and producers.
Find a contest like that near you. Get involved. It will take hard work, but in the end it might pay off.