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Old 07-29-2019, 07:22 AM   #21
Jake Schuster
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

Yes, writing novels is hard, but getting published is nearly as hard as getting your script read. And that script, of course, may well be rejected, as most are. I started writing when I was in my early 20s, writing a novel a year. They were, of course, masterpieces.

Except they weren't. They were the writings of someone who hadn't yet learned the ropes both of constructing a work of fiction or of understanding the business of publishing. I got better, because, well, practice. But I could only get two editors to read and request to see further work, both at top publishing houses. Getting an agent was impossible.

And then I got frustrated, and we moved to England for a year, which turned out to be five years longer. I learned how to write an English novel for a British market, and had an agent within two weeks of arrival via a TV/film/theatre agent who took me on on the basis of a teleplay, the very first I'd written.

It took me twelve years and as many novels before I became a published writer, in 1984. When I came back to America I had an agent in NY, and interested publishers, and over time I learned the business. I learned what agents and editors looked for, and I knew that, as with screenplays, you have to grab the reader's attention on page one. That doesn't mean a high body count right out of the gate, but the writing has to be smart and incisive and inviting enough that people don't want to put it down.

I'd always though getting published was going to be easy, as many writers transitioning to fiction seem to think. But it's very, very hard. And after publishing six novels, I decided to get new representation. I won't tell you, even with my track record and a solid query letter, how many agents even declined to respond. Yes, it's that competitive these days.

But then an agent at a top NYC agency took me on and sold a novel my previous agent didn't even bother to market in two weeks in a two-book deal. And, by the way, most reputable publishers won't take unsolicited manuscripts. So having an agent is vital.

By all means, give it a solid go. But do understand that the money is lousy (only a handful of novelists can make a more-than-passable living out of it), the adulation thin on the ground, and if you give up and decide to self-publish, well, back in the day that was known as "vanity publishing," which pretty much says it all. If that's your goal, though, by all means for for that, as well.

In the end, every sentence has to be perfectly written; your characters must pop into life, even if they only have one line of dialogue in 80,000- words of prose. Your plot will probably be one that's been used before, but if you can reinvent it and make it new you'll have a shot.

And good luck!
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Old 07-29-2019, 08:41 AM   #22
docgonzo
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake Schuster View Post
Yes, writing novels is hard, but getting published is nearly as hard as getting your script read. And that script, of course, may well be rejected, as most are. I started writing when I was in my early 20s, writing a novel a year. They were, of course, masterpieces.

Except they weren't. They were the writings of someone who hadn't yet learned the ropes both of constructing a work of fiction or of understanding the business of publishing. I got better, because, well, practice. But I could only get two editors to read and request to see further work, both at top publishing houses. Getting an agent was impossible.

And then I got frustrated, and we moved to England for a year, which turned out to be five years longer. I learned how to write an English novel for a British market, and had an agent within two weeks of arrival via a TV/film/theatre agent who took me on on the basis of a teleplay, the very first I'd written.

It took me twelve years and as many novels before I became a published writer, in 1984. When I came back to America I had an agent in NY, and interested publishers, and over time I learned the business. I learned what agents and editors looked for, and I knew that, as with screenplays, you have to grab the reader's attention on page one. That doesn't mean a high body count right out of the gate, but the writing has to be smart and incisive and inviting enough that people don't want to put it down.

I'd always though getting published was going to be easy, as many writers transitioning to fiction seem to think. But it's very, very hard. And after publishing six novels, I decided to get new representation. I won't tell you, even with my track record and a solid query letter, how many agents even declined to respond. Yes, it's that competitive these days.

But then an agent at a top NYC agency took me on and sold a novel my previous agent didn't even bother to market in two weeks in a two-book deal. And, by the way, most reputable publishers won't take unsolicited manuscripts. So having an agent is vital.

By all means, give it a solid go. But do understand that the money is lousy (only a handful of novelists can make a more-than-passable living out of it), the adulation thin on the ground, and if you give up and decide to self-publish, well, back in the day that was known as "vanity publishing," which pretty much says it all. If that's your goal, though, by all means for for that, as well.

In the end, every sentence has to be perfectly written; your characters must pop into life, even if they only have one line of dialogue in 80,000- words of prose. Your plot will probably be one that's been used before, but if you can reinvent it and make it new you'll have a shot.

And good luck!
Shorter version: writing for a living is hard no matter what form it takes.
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Old 07-29-2019, 09:04 AM   #23
catcon
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

We're really pulling some of the old-timers out of retirement, to post here! Must have hit a nerve.

But seriously, in spite of all the doubt and dissatisfaction I've read in this thread, it's not about picking the 'right' medium to work in and expecting things to go much differently. Screenplays, novels, poems, blogging - it doesn't matter. We're all really, deep down, hoping to be get the opportunity to write that 'hit' that takes off, and ride it to fame for the rest of our lives. Like Juno or Little Miss Sunshine - I mention such Indie specs merely because it's far more likely we'd succeed there, rather than with a $175M fantasy opus.

Just one. Let us have just one! "You are the one!"

Meanwhile, who is it here with the signature that reads something like "The only failure is the one who doesn't finish something." That's not it, but that's how I take it.
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Old 07-29-2019, 09:22 AM   #24
TravisPickle
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

A lot of novelists wish they were screenwriters.

Why?

It pays more (when it pays).

It gives you enormous exposure (when something gets made)

It's... sexier. Because people watch movies/tv more than they read books.

This idea that novel-writing is a peaceful oasis of pure artists who get their words printed is... incorrect, to put it mildly. You will slam against similar issues in publishing. Unless you self-publish, which I suppose gives you that tangible piece of physical work you crave.

I am not denying that there are many positive aspects to publishing that we don't have in this horrifically unpredictable limbo known as Film/TV. But I also think anything creative is hard. Music. Books. Paintings. Poetry.

If you want stability and to make a consistent living I highly recommend a "real" job. There's no shame in it.
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Old 07-29-2019, 09:44 AM   #25
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

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If you want stability and to make a consistent living I highly recommend a "real" job. There's no shame in it.

Nah. Where’s the sport in that???
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:03 AM   #26
Lahlowen
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

I had a couple ideas in the past where my former manager said, "I like it. But it may work better and we'd have more luck as a book first, gain an audience and then we can work on an adaptation."

I remember thinking okay great lemme do that. Lemme go write a 200-400 page novel, land a lit agent, get it published, distributed, allow time to gain an audience and become a hit, then work on being allowed to adapt my own work. Nice little 5-10 year plan there, lol.

Last edited by Lahlowen : 07-29-2019 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:05 AM   #27
Cheese
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

Bono,
I'm with you, man. I mean, you sound like my doppelganger. So for what it's worth, whatever feelings of isolation you might be dealing with, I GET you.


Much great advice on novel writing has already been offered here, but I'd add a couple things:
Your understanding of screenplay story/structure/character will serve you well; however, know that novels are a different beast and it will take you time to learn and perfect the "rules" (ick) of novel writing unless you're just an absolute narrative genius. If you get frustrated by the wheels of film/TV grinding too slowly, buckle up, cuz it's just as much of a slog (if not more) in the book world. With all this in mind, I'd advise that any pursuit of traditional publishing solely as a means to reaching film/TV success is folly. Write a book because the story needs to be a book and because you love doing it.


GGXXX,
I know this has been suggested before, but I'd seriously consider hanging your own lit management shingle. You seem to tick all the boxes of what it'd take to do it - you know how to schmooze, you know how to sell, and most importantly, you understand writers. I'd be willing to wager your Rolodex is fatter than half the managers out there, too. So please do this random guy on a message board a favor and think about it. I'd hate to lose one of the good guys in the industry to real estate.
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Old 07-29-2019, 11:38 AM   #28
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

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Bono,
I'm with you, man. I mean, you sound like my doppelganger. So for what it's worth, whatever feelings of isolation you might be dealing with, I GET you.


Much great advice on novel writing has already been offered here, but I'd add a couple things:
Your understanding of screenplay story/structure/character will serve you well; however, know that novels are a different beast and it will take you time to learn and perfect the "rules" (ick) of novel writing unless you're just an absolute narrative genius. If you get frustrated by the wheels of film/TV grinding too slowly, buckle up, cuz it's just as much of a slog (if not more) in the book world. With all this in mind, I'd advise that any pursuit of traditional publishing solely as a means to reaching film/TV success is folly. Write a book because the story needs to be a book and because you love doing it.


GGXXX,
I know this has been suggested before, but I'd seriously consider hanging your own lit management shingle. You seem to tick all the boxes of what it'd take to do it - you know how to schmooze, you know how to sell, and most importantly, you understand writers. I'd be willing to wager your Rolodex is fatter than half the managers out there, too. So please do this random guy on a message board a favor and think about it. I'd hate to lose one of the good guys in the industry to real estate.
I agree on both points. I wrote two novels. They are novel novels, not screenplays adapted into novels. If a feature is a 10k run, a novel is a marathon. Everything took me 3-4 times as long. Technically, when I word count my screenplays, they are 20k words usually. My novels are 90k and 100k words. So that gives you an idea of the shear amount of words involved. Definitely writing a novel to make a TV series or a movie is doing it the long, wrong way. But one thing that's very satisfying about novel writing is getting the full picture out of your head intact. It's like the writer's cut of the movie in a way a screenplay isn't.

And yes, I second Gucci being a manager or agent. Seriously -- the right personality and energy. Have you ever considered that, G?
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Old 07-29-2019, 12:59 PM   #29
DDoc
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

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I don't know how much longer the Disney machine can live on robbing their old material and doing comic book movies. I'm betting there is going to be diminishing returns on "Beauty and the Beast 5" or "Maleficent 7".

As far as comic book movies go, I just need to watch my youngest son. He used to be excited by each one, now he skips some and the ones he watches seem to be out of a sense of duty. "I've seen the other ten, I need to see this one too, I guess".

Kind of like watching some series on Netflix that started boring you after the third show and now you're just pushing through to the end.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think eventually (and maybe soon) Disney and the other studios are going to have to start doing original stuff again.
I agree with this. I think that'll happen soon. I talk about movies with my coworkers and 90% of them are getting bored with the reboots and sequels (they bring that up, by the way. I don't shift the conversation in that direction).
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Old 07-29-2019, 01:07 PM   #30
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Default Re: Should we all be writing books instead?

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Originally Posted by StoryWriter View Post
I don't know how much longer the Disney machine can live on robbing their old material and doing comic book movies. I'm betting there is going to be diminishing returns on "Beauty and the Beast 5" or "Maleficent 7".

As far as comic book movies go, I just need to watch my youngest son. He used to be excited by each one, now he skips some and the ones he watches seem to be out of a sense of duty. "I've seen the other ten, I need to see this one too, I guess".

Kind of like watching some series on Netflix that started boring you after the third show and now you're just pushing through to the end.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think eventually (and maybe soon) Disney and the other studios are going to have to start doing original stuff again.
I agree with this. I think that'll happen soon. I talk about movies with my coworkers and 90% of them are getting bored with the reboots and sequels (they bring that up, by the way. I don't shift the conversation in that direction).
Just remember, you're talking as a moviegoer. As a writer, when you're the I.P. content owner you too will want to exploit the hell out of it for all it'$ worth.
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