So how did I find the problem now and why didn't I see it sooner? Like before sending it out!!! This manuscript has won contests and been critiqued by some of the best, but this problem still slipped by. And its in the first three chapters. Yikes.
Screenwriting. The process of screenwriting has taken my writing to a new level.
Let me explain how, but first, let's grab a bite to eat and a cup of "cookie doodle" coffee. Ruthy would never forgive me if I forgot the goodies. Non-calorie btw. "Cookie doodle" coffee has vanilla and cinnamon in case you've never had it before. Yumm. And to go with it, how about some homemade Snickerdoodle cookies. They are my favorite. Don't you just love the smell of cinnamon and baking this time of year???
So back to the screenwriting. I was published in romance in the eighties, but made the mistake of leaving it and finishing out my previous career, thinking I'd write when retired. LOL. Nice dream, but the writing changed so much in that time that I had to relearn how to write. More action, less purple prose, get rid of all the passive tense etc. etc.
And don't you love "SHOW DON'T TELL". What in the world does that mean???? I wrestled with that until I took a screenwriting class.
Our local RWA (Desert Rose in Phoenix area) had a Saturday workshop entitled Beyond Structure, featuring David Freeman. He is a Hollywood screenwriter. (www.beyondstructure.com) A friend and I were so impressed with what we learned we flew to Los Angeles and took his weekend class. It was intensive but what a difference it made. Then I followed that up with a screenwriting class at Scottsdale Community College which has a great Theater Arts Department.
The advantage of taking screenwriting classes is that it really SHOWS you how to show not tell. They use visual examples. They take film clips and show how the action tells the story. Or how the dialogue shows the emotions. Remember, in film, you can't go in the head and read the characters thoughts and/or emotions. You have to show them through their actions and their dialogue. And furthermore, you have to move along at a fast pace or you lose your audience. Isn't that what you're hearing about your novels too?
After taking all of these classes, I started writing screenplays and fell in love with it. So I pitched to a producer who liked my screenplay, but she couldn't see a place for it at this time. (Sounds like the publishing business doesn't it?) So she asked me if I had something else. I didn't, but I have always thought my manuscript ROAD TO VICTORY would make a great movie because it had bicycle racing and lots of action. So I pitched the premise of that story and she said "YES. I want to see it."
ROAD TO VICTORY is the rejection I just received. But I had started writing the screenplay for it earlier this month and noticed that the first three chapters, while a lot of action is going on, is really all one scene. It takes place in the same location. And that is exactly what Johannaa Raisanen of Harlequin American pointed out. OMG if I had only started the screenplay earlier. It is something so easy to fix. And so obvious now that I see it from the point of a screenplay.
So fellow authors. I learned a big lesson and hope I've passed on some useful information to you. If you are having problems with passive voice, plot, character development, dialogue, try a screenwriting class. Even a good book on screenwriting helps. A couple of good ones are: SAVE THE CAT, by Blake Snyder (He spoke at RWA National in San Francisco last July and was terrific), THE SCREENWRITER'S WORKBOOK, by Syd Field.
Caroline Romance Authors is offering an online screenwriting workshop that starts this November. It is entitled IS THAT HOLLYWOOD CALLING? Cindy Carroll is a member of Script Scene (RWA's screenwriting chapter) and has received honorable mention in a Television/Script category of Writer's Digest, has garnered a request from a production company and teaches the workshop. IS THAT HOLLYWOOD CALLING is a "quick and dirty course on the differences between writing books and writing scripts and how writing a screenplay can help and improve your novel writing. " You can still register at www.carolinaromancewriters.com. For more info, contact Sarah McNeal at email@example.com.
Act One (www.actoneprogram.com) is an organization of Christian professionals in Hollywood who put on workshops and programs to train Christians for Hollywood (movies and television). They offer weekend seminars throughout the year in major cities. They also have an intensive training program in Hollywood where professionals in the movie/television industry mentor beginners trying to break into the industry. They view Hollywood as a mission field so have an interest in more Christians in the business.
Not only will screenwriting improve your novel writing, but it is fun. Don't we all love a good movie? And Hollywood is looking for good romantic comedies. Me too.
Sandra Leesmith (who also writes children books as Sandy Wardman)