Tag: writing

Story Selling by Heather Hale – Book Review

Introduction

Anyone can write a story, but not everyone can sell one. Enter Heather Hale, an accomplished director, screenwriter and producer. If anyone knows how to get a story sold, it’s her. Luckily for late night writers and budding screenwriters Hale is giving you her golden compass to success in the form of her new book Story Selling. She made her authorial debut in 2017 with How to Work The Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators, which gives much needed industry advice to those looking to get into the world of film and TV. Her illustrious career includes two successful feature films The Courage to Love (2000) and Absolute Killers (2011) and when she isn’t producing industry successes she is uploading to her blog, offering a wealth of advice to people starting out in the industry. 

 A Story Worth Selling 

Starting from the ground up, the book reiterates how important it is to have a good screenplay, in order to be able to sell it. Encouraging writers to build a backbone to their work and create something solid enough to be able to withstand the cut throat environment of Hollywood. One of the best ways that Hale does this is including activities to complete as you move through the book, such as encouraging writers to create a comp list, build a convincing log line and writing characters that have substance. One of the best pieces of advice is her catchphrase “Kill Your Darling Cliches”. Although originally used to encourage writers to create an original log line, the phrase is a good way to encompass how Hale encourages the reader to move away from what has been done before and create something that will stand out. Though this is not a “how to write a good screenplay” book, Hale goes in depth about what your screenplay needs to be proficient – and most importantly why. So that in that nerve wracking or life changing pitch you won’t be caught out – instead you’ll have something solid, worth selling. Much of the book is dedicated to marketing a screenplay, teaching you common practises of the industry and how to use everyday tools such as IMDb to your own savvy advantage. 

From Industry Jargon to Pitch Perfect 

The advice in this book is relevant for writers in any stage of their career, whether you’re starting off and going it alone, have secured an agent or are already affiliated with a production company.  This doesn’t mean however that Hale scrimps on teaching the reader all the relevant industry jargon. Important terms are organised and made prominent in highlighted boxes, along with a handy definition and how they’re relevant to every chapter in the book. If you didn’t already know what a spec, high concept, macguffin or tagline is, then you will when you’ve finished reading.  Alongside these are handy do’s and don’ts, as someone who is well versed in the film industry, Hale offloads buckets of advice on what to do in every situation you might find yourself in when selling your screenplay. She even includes guidance for emails, so you can put your best foot forward when communicating with companies and high profile people. It’s also worth noting that Story Selling doesn’t pen itself into screenplays for narrative feature films, or even shorts for that matter. The book goes in depth with writing for TV, detailing formats for game shows, reality TV and even children’s programming so the advice can suit any kind of writer. If all this wasn’t enough, the book directs you to Hale’s online resources in certain chapters to provide more information and guidance where you might need it. 

Final Thoughts 

Story Selling is the ultimate how to guide to not only creating great screenplays, but making a pretty penny from them too. Heather Hale’s writing style is conversational and witty, which makes the sheer amount of information on offer easy to swallow. Bitesize paragraphs break up chapters and the use of online screenshots and highlighted text boxes make it easy to locate figures and definitions. It’s also a book that asks as much from you as you do from it, encouraging budding screenwriters to create practical documents such as great pitches to practising how to communicate with industry professionals. This is one of the reasons why Hale’s book begins as screenwriting  for dummies, but quickly graduates to getting down to business. Lending you all the industry know how so you can arrive at the conclusion of this book fully prepared to take on the scary (but exciting!) world of Story Selling. You can get the book here from Amazon! 

Filed under: Book Review, ScreenwritingTagged with: , , , ,

5 Classic Movie Scripts Every Screenwriter Should Read

Want to be a good screenwriter, but do not know where to start? We will tell you how to take the first steps towards your dream. Be attentive and keep the tips, they will definitely come in handy!

What Is a Movie Script and What Do You Need to Know About It?

The script of the film is a kind of skeleton, based on which stunning pictures and the greatest works of cinematography are created. Relatively speaking, the script is all information that will be captured in the future and transferred to the screens. This is a step-by-step “instruction” that includes all the dialogues, the places where the action takes place, all the characters involved, and a brief description of their emotions. Creating a movie without a script is impossible.

Why Is It So Important to Know and Read the Works of Famous Authors?

Creativity is part of the experience of predecessors, your own insanity, as well as the ability to see what the majority does not see. With this recipe, real talent is born and developed. But we have to remember that such talent needs constant boosting and nourishing. The study of literature, famous cultural figures, as well as their works, give an idea of how to apply your own talent in the best way. That is why the first and only right step for a person who wants to take a path in the field of screenwriting mastery and become a successful and sought-after screenwriter, is reading scripts that influenced the world cinema industry in one or another way.

Every well-known screenwriter has found their own way of knowing all aspects and possibilities of screenwriting. Each of them has learned from the masters of the past. And you have to follow that path too.

It may seem to you that this is like plagiarism. However, we must immediately clarify that this is not so. Studying existing scenarios helps the novice screenwriter understand how to put theory into practice. Because you can be as good as you want in theory, but you need to know how to put such theoretical knowledge into practice.

Here are the benefits that you can get by reading scripts:

  • A newcomer can see what a real script should look like. Not how it is presented as a template in the theoretical literature, but what text is actually taken as the basis for filming.
  • Get inspired from various techniques of writing. Each scriptwriter invests in the script skills that they have developed over the years. Reading the scripts of different authors, the novice writer discovers the world of new and old techniques that were used to write. Having a wealth of examples of creative techniques, it is much easier to build your own.

Reading Literature is the Way to Great Achievements

It is important to remember that in addition to screenwriting, you must not forget to read additional literature that will help to deal with the techniques of writing.

For example, we recommend reading this article which briefly describes how to expand an idea into a ready-made script, as well as steps that will help develop creative thinking. Save the recommendations in order not to lose them.

Also, as recommended The New York Times, read the work of the author and marvellous screenwriter Syd Field, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting”. In this book, each reader will be able to find step-by-step instructions for writing their own creation. The author tells and most importantly, proves that everyone can learn everything. It is only important to strive to achieve the goal. Syd Field will guide you through the whole journey, from the very inception of the idea to the ready and valid scenario.

His works have been translated into many languages. However, if you were unable to find it in the language you need, then you can always contact The Word Point for help. Here you can translate absolutely any kind of document, ranging from scenarios, and ending with any financial papers.

5 Movie Scripts that Anyone Who Wants to Take Place in the Niche of Famous Screenwriters Should Read

 

The great creation of the famous Charlie Kaufman hardly left any viewer indifferent. The film considers such a thing as love. What is it? How do we understand, that the rapid heartbeat is exactly the feeling that is called “love”? Is it possible to deliberately cross out all the feelings from the soul and where can that lead to?

  • Winner of the British Academy Award in 2005 for Best Original Screenplay;
  • Golden Globe nominee in the Best Screenplay category, 2005;
  • Winner of the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, 2005.

 

How to use something that wasn’t intended to be public? Who is pleased to recognise their own desires in a character when they are completely different from generally accepted norms? David Lynch skilfully wields human “flaws”, as well as features of the psyche.

  • Nomination for Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay, 1987;
  • Nomination for Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, 1987.

 

This is a good example of where the attempts to live as you want can lead. The script describes understandable, but at the same time mysterious characters, that are not so easy to reveal. Looks like reality, isn’t it?

  • Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Script, 2000;
  • Winner of the Oscar award for best screenplay, 2000.

 

This is a story that deserves the attention of everyone. It tells how strong the power of a word is, as well as a vivid example of how words should be supported by deeds.

  • Winner of an Oscar winner award for Best Adapted Script, 1963.

 

This is difficult-to-perceive and emotional story based on cruelty and love. This scenario is an excellent reference to how the encirclement can affect the person and deprive the right to choose even own destiny.

  • Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Script, 1973;
  • Winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Script, 1973.

Summarising

Remember that it is always difficult to start something new. The first steps are not easy. However, if you have a goal, then you need to make enough effort and continue to go towards it, despite the difficulties and obstacles. Your efforts will not be ignored.

Filed under: Filmmaking Career, ScreenwritingTagged with: , , , ,

Four Things a Literary Agent Does

10 Strategic Steps To Get A Literary Agent | Four Things An Agent Does | What Does a Publisher Do? | How Much Do Literary Agents Charge? | The Query Letter | 10 Tips for Writing Loglines | How Creatives Reject RejectionGallery of Rejection

So you’ve written a great book. You’ve put the time, effort and tears into creating your masterpiece, but there’s one problem… you have no way to get people to read it. Sure, your mum and best friend are more than willing to give you praise for your work, but you deserve to see if your book can be enjoyed by the masses. But how do you get it into the hands of a publisher and therefore into the hands of readers? The answer is simple, you need a literary agent.

It must be said that most literary agents receive about a 15 percent of sales commission. “But why would I want to pay for an agent?” you might ask. You may find yourself wondering if dishing out extra money is worth it, but in the long-run it is.

Think of your agent as an investment. You may not get an immediate return, but your long-term gains will be much greater than they would be without one. Your book will, most likely, be purchased for a much greater amount when you have an expert advocating for it.

Here four things an agent does and why you should have one:

1. The job of an agent is to get your book purchased.

An agent acts as a middleman and will send out your manuscript to a potential publisher who would like to bid on it for its publication. Agents have a vast network of contacts and relationships with editors at publishing houses. They have the knowledge and experience to know what editors look for in a manuscript and know the best publications to send them to. An agent knows which publishing houses are on the lookout for the next big fantasy novel, a new horror writer, or which aren’t currently accepting submissions. In addition to the wide number of contacts they provide, agents bring a level of quality in the eyes of editors. Editors know that books submitted by an agent have been through a reviewing process, so those will usually go to the top of the pile. An agent wouldn’t represent a bad writer, so if you get one they believe you have a fighting chance and so will editors.

2. They try to get you the best deal.

An agent’s job is to negotiate all of the contracts with publishers. This part of their job is pretty straightforward because they make more money when you do. As someone who works on commission, it’s in their best interest to negotiate contracts that benefit you. Sure, you could try and do it yourself, but agents also take care of any disputes, royalties, and film rights. You may not know much about these issues, so it’s best to let a professional deal with them. Agents will also advocate for you in terms of negotiating an extension for a deadline and scheduling your book tour dates. Having someone to manage the business side of your book will free up your time and allow you to write a great sequel!

3. They offer valuable suggestions and advice.

A good agent will often give you input regarding your novel. They do this to help it become more marketable. The goal of an agent is to get your book sold to a publisher, so they will want to make sure it is the best it can be before its submission. Yes, they want to help you. No, you shouldn’t treat them like an editor and make them read your book line-by-line. Their job isn’t to offer you grammar revisions or help you learn how to write well. Their job is to offer suggestions and it’s your job as the writer to decide if you want to include them. An agent is all about the business behind your book, so they want to help you make changes that will sell more copies. 

4. You have someone who is ‘always on your side.’

It’s good to restate again that an agent won’t make money unless you do, so they will advocate on behalf of you. They want you to turn a profit so they make one as well. To do this, an agent will provide you will encouragement and try to keep you on the right path when it comes to writing. An agent will remind you about deadlines and be frank when it comes to revisions. They want your career to flourish, so they will be your ally throughout the process. But it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t there to be your personal assistant or banker. An agent will want you to be successful and for you to find your audience.

Overall, a writer’s best ally is their literary agent. It’s important to invest in one so that your book will be successful. An agent brings so much to the table and is such an integral component of a writer’s toolkit. Don’t try to navigate the publishing process on your own; get an agent and get your book sold. 

Learn more about ‘What Literary Agents Do (And Don’t Do) For Writers.

 

Filed under: Promotion, Marketing and Distribution, Screenwriting, UncategorizedTagged with: , , ,