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Novel vs Screenplay?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Zak9, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. Zak9

    Zak9 Scribe

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    Hey Scribes! I was wondering, how unrealistic is it to sell a screenplay to a studio or production team? I'm pretty interested that I could perhaps write my story as a screenplay and sell it, but I doubt it's very easy. Opinions? Advice from people who have tried this?
     
  2. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I don't know all the details but I do know that it's possible to sell a screen play. But like novels it's easier to sell it if you have an agent.
     
  3. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    It's possible. It just involves a lot of hard work at selling it even after the writing's done-- although selling to traditional publishing does too.

    On the other hand, screenwriting is also known as the main way someone can pay the bills with full-time fiction writing.
     
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    From the what I've read and heard from various sources, in terms of selling something it might be harder than selling a book if you have no writing credentials. Assuming you're looking for a Hollywood sale where millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars are involved, why would they risk that kind of money on an unknown when there are tons of writers out there with a track record they can tap into.

    Now maybe you're thinking about something not Hollywood, something to get on your resume, there are other factors outside of writing skills and a good story that affect if something is bought. Part of that is who you have in your network that can get your script into people's hands.

    Truthfully I don't know a whole lot. What I gather is from books I've read and interviews I've heard. So if you're interested in doing more research I'm sure there are script writing web pages out there. As for maybe some books to read, there's one called Tales From Development Hell that might interest you. It's basically a book about how certain movies fail to get made. It's a peek behind the curtains on how movie making works, how great scripts don't get made, and how crappy ones do.
     
  5. I'm not an expert in this matter but my understanding is that most who write screenplays do so on commission, that is you are hired to work on a specific project and don't really get to decide what to write, often along with other writers, or to pick up something a predecessor has been working on.

    I recommend checking out the (totally awesome) writer's commentary for Pirates of the Caribbean: Not only is it full of good writing advice in general but also has two out of the four writers who worked on the script giving you a look into the process, with stuff like: "This scene is from my original script, but I put it at the end of the movie rather than the beginning. I'm not sure which one of us moved it here. Oh well."

    And even if a studio buys your original script, that doesn't mean its your story that gets made into a movie or TV show or whatever. They might just as well look at your original, creative concept and say: "This is nice as a basic idea, but we need to dumb it down a bit, make it more generic. Does this character need to be a black woman? I think a white man would work better!" And that is assuming they don't throw it in a pile somewhere among other scripts they don't plan on using, or until they're going to make a remake of something popular and need a script to use as a template.

    My impression is that working as a novelist, while certainly not unrestricted, gives you by far the most freedom and control over your work compared to other fields of writing. Which is why I've pretty much given up on writing anything other than books.
     
  6. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    True, successful screenwriting is the constant frustration of having your work redone at random, or you might be the person hired to write in some executive's random spin on a work they have. The thing is, every one of those many ricocheting steps pays better than novels.

    The classic advice is to write screenplays for money, to give you the time to write books and such for satisfaction. In any case, screenwriting is a major commitment to learning the industry, gathering contacts, and positioning yourself to be a person they'll trust with their whims; be sure you study up on it before you decide.
     
  7. Zak9

    Zak9 Scribe

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    Thanks for everyone's advice. I want control of my work, so I'm gonna stick with novels.
     
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