I started this whole writing thing with a screenplay.
I had a solid idea for a screenplay, and I liked the challenge of telling a story visually rather than through exposition (which isn’t bad advice when writing a novel, either, I’ve found), and to be limited to 120 pages. I found the format easy to work with, and the story seemed to flow pretty well. I started reading screenplays (shooting scripts are quite easy to find, spec scripts not so much), which helped me understand the translation from page to screen.
That first screenplay? It’s still a work in progress.
I set it aside and worked on a different idea, one that I knew I could tell in 120 pages or less (it turned out to be less). I showed it to a few friends, and they liked it. I even entered it in a couple of screenplay contests. (It’s called “I’m Not Jack.” You haven’t read it, and you’ve never heard of it, but you’re welcome to do either.) I got the same feedback from everyone: it was a neat idea, but it was lacking a big finish — it needed a lower low near the end, which would make the high higher at the conclusion. They were right. So I’ve made notes and I plan to go back and fix it.
I also have the first script, the one I haven’t finished, in my “To Do” pile. There’s also a third script I’ve started, and I have ideas for two more. Here’s my plan: I will continue to work on short stories and novels; and when I get stuck, I’ll switch over to the screenplays for a while and get myself out of the rut.
Could I develop the screenplay ideas as novels? Yeah, probably. “Freedom One” could be a good novel. I couldn’t tell you why, but I think “I’m Not Jack” works better as a feature film than a novel. For “The Young Executive,” in which a 22-year-old gets put in the Oval Office for 10 days, I have a killer opening and a killer ending; I’m just lacking the in-between.
I’m really not sure how much of the content of my screenplays I should share until they’re finished and registered and everything. Eventually, I’d like to post the actual scripts here on the website, just for the reading. I also considered throwing them up on Amazon; I don’t know if anyone’s ever done that for exposure before. Let’s put it this way: if you’re a Hollywood bigwig and you’re looking for a screenplay (it doesn’t really work that way), or if you’re just someone who’s also trying to write a screenplay and you want to bat around ideas, drop me a line.