Script Frenzy fail

I gave Script Frenzy a solid shot this year. I plotted out my movie in advance, fixed all the plot holes, had some blockbuster cinematic moments planned. I started writing the script, got about five pages into it, and realized something. I’m not a screenwriter anymore. I’m a novelist.

I used to joke that I was a screenwriter trapped in novelist’s body, a nod to my very visual, very action-oriented style of prose. And I used to really enjoy screenwriting. I read movie scripts the way other people read novels. I watched movies constantly, seeing probably close to 100 films a year and rewatching lots of favorites.

The problem is I don’t do that anymore. I see maybe 20 movies a year, probably closer to a dozen. For my leisure time, I’m usually reading a book (well, an ebook). I just don’t have time to devote a couple hours at a time to sitting in one place and watching a story from beginning to end.

I got into screenwriting in the first place because I didn’t think I had the patience for novels. I’d just finished Between Heaven and Hell and hadn’t been able to make any serious headway on the sequel. Screenplays were shorter, simpler, and more active. They capitalized on what were my strengths at the time, action and dialogue. And I had a blast learning how to write screenplays.

But that was over 10 years ago. In the intervening decade, I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, and all in either narrative (novels) or essay (articles) style. And in the process, I’ve lost the eye of my inner screenwriter. I don’t see stories through a camera anymore. I see them from the omniscient viewpoint of a novel’s narrator.

The work I did getting the story put together isn’t going to be wasted, though. The more I wrote on the screenplay version of Titanus, the more I wanted to write it as a novel. My favorite books when I was younger were Michael Crichton’s Congo and Jurassic Park (long before either became a movie). More recently I’ve discovered writers like James Rollins (Amazonia, Subterranean) and Jeff Rovin (Fatalis, Vespers) who also managed to find that mix of science and adventure that made Crichton’s best work so good. Titanus is my shot at joining their ranks with a science-oriented thriller, and I think it will work just as well, if not better, as a novel as a movie.

If, for no other reason, that I’m a novelist now.

5 thoughts on “Script Frenzy fail”

  1. Seriously, have you ever finished anything? You appear to be a serial quitter that can’t follow through and finish anything. Always excuses and rationalizations. Look at your history and then look within and then change your trajectory.

  2. Jeff
    you can have an omniscient pov narrator in film.
    Clearly you’ve not yet considered the effort/time/money matrix.
    Screenplays are between 90 and 120 pages(a page per minute of screentime) and if you’ve read any properly formattted screenplays, the white space is huge and the word count is often minimal.
    Less to write. Quicker to finish.
    Novels are text dense, usually 200-300 or more pages and often take published, full time authors (without day jobs) a year or more to write. Even longer if the work Full time, as you do.
    And it may never sell. One year unpaid effort gone.

    You could write 3 screenplays of 90pages/minutes in that same year and have 3 chances to make WGA minimum which is I think around 100k.

    You are putting one big egg that takes a year to lay in a possibly non-paying basket when you could pinch out 3 smaller eggs, one of which could sell and get you wga minimum and all 3 of which could be used as a writing sample portfolio for possible TV work.

    You should reconsider completing your scriptfrenzy piece.

  3. Oh, I’ve done the math. The thing is, I’m not in this for the money. I know how cutthroat Hollywood is and I never had any expectation that my screenplay would sell. I don’t know if I’m strictly a “hobbyist” writer now, as I do intend to at least try to find an agent for the novels I’m currently working on, but I don’t have any illusions that I’ll ever make my living from writing.

  4. Can you point me to something you finished in the last few YEARS? All I see is a lot of quit and fail. You need to finish what you start. Remember that next time you’re ready to quit so easily. Good luck.

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