Monthly Archives: May 2012

Screenwriting 1.0

It began—as many of the best things do—over drinks and dinner. During the Sundance Film Festival in 2011, I mentioned to Robert Dick of the Sundance Institute and Gary Marks, who co-wrote The Music Never Stopped, that I had recently published a novel. I spoke briefly about the storyline: a female executive in charge of a controversial development project in a ski town fights for her integrity, her job, and her teenage daughter. Almost in unison, the two of them spoke the words that have been my mantra for the past year: If you can write a book, you can write a screenplay. Fifteen minutes into my conversation with Robert and Gary, I had the URL for Final Draft software and a deadline for two scenes.

When I initially began translating Yard Sale from novel to screenplay, I felt like a know-nothing. I read the acknowledged experts in the field—Robert McKee, Syd Field, and others—and I pored over shooting scripts for screenplays, which are available free on the Internet. I picked up some important information from the books, but the screenplays themselves proved to be the best teachers.

I definitely underestimated the amount of creative destruction required to adapt a novel to film. Some days the process felt like death by a thousand cuts as I sliced and hacked Yard Sale to the industry standard of ninety pages (the rule of thumb is a page per minute of film). Many, many rewrites later, as I typed those magic words, FADE OUT, I knew I was hooked on screenwriting.

Yard Sale, the screenplay, has been submitted to the Sundance Labs competition and Final Draft’s Big Break contest. Yard Sale, the novel, is available in print and e-book versions from Amazon.

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