Aphrodisia Authors

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I'm part of a local group that's part friendship, part critique partners. Last night we were mostly about sharing a potluck, watching the lunar eclipse, and catching up. Finally we got around to the business part of things, or to be honest, the rest of us hung on her every word while Gail told us about her most excellent weekend.
The weekend? Glad you asked. Gail is an awesome writer and has had both fiction and nonfiction published, but for reasons I don't quite get, her first love is screenwriting. To my way of thinking, straight writing is competitive enough while it appears that half of the population is trying to get a screenplay published. Granted, the payoff can be like hitting the lottery--only the odds are even higher. Back when I'd briefly given leave of my senses, I tried my hand at a couple of screenplays and loved the process, but I have all I can do to pay the bills doing what I am which these days revolves around erotica for Aphrodisia.
You think there are a lot of rules to fiction, try screenplays! The workshop Gail attended is taught by Cynthia Whitcomb who knows what she's talking about. Among Cynthia's credits: she's sold more than 80 feature-length screenplays, 30 of which have been filmed. Her scripts have won and been nominated for the Emmy, Cable Ace Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award, Humanities Award, and Writers Guild of America. She's taught screenwriting for many years, including seven at the UCLA Film School. So what I'm thinking is, Gail's competition includes Cynthia. Good luck my friend. But Cynthia really cares about her students' success and is open and honest about what separates a pro from those, like me, who are clueless. Think about it, how many NYT writers teach those who might become their competition?
So Cynthia knows all the tricks that separate her from her students, little things like aiming for over 100 scenes in a script that averages 120 pages, opening with an outdoor scene because it paints a larger landscape, not describing the actors or giving them ages, knowing who you want to play the various roles (yes, that is contradictory), starting scenes in the middle of the action and leaving before the action winds down, keeping the clock ticking, limiting dialogue to three lines, giving no stage directions (that's the actors' job) sticking to present tense, using active verbs, keeping it lean and cutting it mean, knowing the format.
Writing those two screenplays was an incredible experience for me. No exposition, no thoughts, no internal monologues. Nothing but dialogue and action. I loved it. I'm also going to stick with print publishing.
Speaking of said print publishing, the anthology Only With A Cowboy will be released April 29, I now have the yummy cover for Going Down which shows a man lapping at a female torso, have turned in Hawk's Talons, and am in desperate search of a story for book 2 in my current contract.
Anyone with a spare plot or characters hanging around, PLEASE send them my way. Or I could use what was in those screenplays. Hmm. Something to think about.

Posted by Vonna Harper :: 2:33 PM :: 2 comments

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