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Old 12-15-2019, 09:31 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 2
Default Starting Out Questions

So, I don't know if this is the right place to ask these questions, and if not, please forgive me and delete this. For the moment, here goes.

I'm a self published novelist, and I am what most people would consider to be pretty successful. I've hit the USA Today Bestseller list six times, had my audiobooks rights bought by two of the largest audiobook publishers in the country, made six figures yearly from my work, and am routinely within the Amazon's top 100 worldwide authors in my genre (which is police procedural/detective stories).

With that under my belt, I can safely say that my heart has always been in screenwriting. I want to write movies. I want to write for TV. I want to be involved. That being said, I don't know where to start.

I live in the rural Southeast, far away from the glitz, glamour or connections that I've often heard are necessary to break into these fields. I know no one in television or movie writing, and I don't have any credits for those things specifically.

What I do have are the credits I've amassed in my field and I've been told they're pretty impressive.

So, my questions are as follows:

How do I start?
Is my geographical location (which I can't change for family reasons) a disqualifier for me?
If I can start with a spec script or something, should it be in the police procedural/ detective vein (where my accomplishments might be more easily appreciated)?
Is this a pipe dream that I have no way of realistically seeing come to fruition?

Thanks so much. I really appreciate any responses, and I look forward to learning a lot from this board and the people on it.
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Old 12-16-2019, 09:40 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: West Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 1,617
Default Re: Starting Out Questions

Let me throw out a few (frank) comments real quick; but I'm sure some others will jump in too with some other thoughts.

How do you start? That's a wide open question. Granted being/becoming a screenwriter isn't like becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but there is some work to it, of course, as I'm sure you know from writing novels. I'd pretty much always suggest getting two or three of the better known script writing books and reading those to get started, if you haven't already. And of course, read a lot of scripts. Real scripts, not transcripts people/fans make from watching the movie. There are great examples of produced & unproduced screenplays & TV scripts all over the internet and they are generally pretty easy to find. Start learning the craft: formatting, structure, dialogue, etc. as need be, again depending on what you do or don't already know.

Your geographical location will be a problem for working in TV. You really need to be in Los Angeles or possibly NY (depending on the show) for that. It won't work otherwise, to be honest. I'd say work on feature scripts. Maybe down the road if you career takes off, the family situation changes, etc. then you could take on TV in some fashion.

Write what you are passionate about & know, to get started. Sure. Bring to the table what ever experience or expertise in (writing) something you can. Now, I only have a bit of sense of who you are so please bare with me. It's great you have had some financial success and have been recognized. You've surely accomplished something many to most writers/authors have not. But I have to say, I'm not sure how much weight the USA Today rankings will really carry. New York Times bestseller? Sure. A book that sells 100 million copies and is a global phenom? Absolutely. Even then though, it'd be more about Hollywood looking to option one of your novels/books and developing it with an established screenwriter. "Successful author" doesn't necessarily equate to "successful or good screenwriter." Some can but most certainly not all. You'll still have to prove yourself, of course. (Generally playwrights seem to have a better crossover chance in most cases. But authors do adapt their own material in some cases. Just depends on who they are, etc.)

Is it a pipe dream? Sure. It is for most to be honest. Most writers will never break in. I don't say that to be depressing or discouraging, but it's a fact. Even if every single script writer out there was great, there are still not enough jobs and opportunities for them. That said, should you not try then? Simply give up before even starting? No. Not at all. Do it. Write. Try away! See what happens. It generally takes a few scripts anyway to even really see what your prospects are. Again, if you have proven yourself to others with your writing, then you must have some talent. "Write"?

I would simply suggest being a bit smart about it. Don't buy 30 how-to-write-a-script books. Don't take 10 classes. Don't go to every conference out there or attend every "guru's" lecture. Throwing tons of money at it won't help, of course. Study the craft. Read lots of actual scripts. And then write a few scripts, if you haven't ever yet. And go from there.

Never hurts to try. Keep your expectations in check but dream away. You can then get feedback from communities like ours or others to your own liking. It's so much easier relatively speaking to do nowadays than it was say 25 or more years ago. Writing scripts is cheap. It can be time consuming, but it doesn't truly take a lot of money. Get some screenwriting software if you can too. You'd probably find that helpful as well.
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Last edited by Done Deal Pro : 12-16-2019 at 11:18 AM. Reason: Punctuation
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Old 12-16-2019, 09:43 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,931
Default Re: Starting Out Questions

If you want to write for TV, you'll typically need to live in LA (or possibly NYC). the writers rooms for production are 99% located in either of these two places.

If you want to write features, you don't have to be in LA. just write a spec script and query managers or producers (also usually in LA or NY, though less exclusively than TV shows).
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Old 12-16-2019, 10:44 AM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 2
Default Re: Starting Out Questions

Thank you so much for the responses. The first one was so well informed and thought out. I really appreciate the way you answered all of my questions and were real about things while still being supportive.

And thank so much for the second response as well. It was also great.

I'm excited about all of this
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