Is screen writing an art form?

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Without a shadow of a doubt, the answer has to be categorically no!

My fellow writer and friend here in the UK, Andrew French decided that he wanted to turn one of his books into a screen play. So, with ‘how to’ suggestions from someone involved in the scriptwriting industry here, away he went.

Andrew said to me yesterday, “I don’t want anyone else adapting my work. It wouldn’t be the same.” From that point of view I can completely understand why he did it. After all would you allow a total stranger anywhere near your baby? No neither will the author of a given work, if they’ve got any sense… Far too many good stories have been ruined in the past by total Philistines ie editors. Or in this instance scriptwriters!!!

When you read a book, through the use of your imagination you become part of it to the point where if you close your eyes, your right there with the characters. Not so with a script. With the latter what your reading is nothing more or less than simplistic writing in the form of an instruction manual for totally unimaginative ninnies, devoid of everything that you experience when reading any work of fiction.

Give me the book over the darned film any day…

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What it takes to write a book

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I’m taking one of my frequent breaks while writing my latest story to reveal how I go about doing it. I’ve spent the last twenty-two years honing the particular method that works for me.

First I write a paragraph. Then I take a cold hard look at the words I’ve written, in particular their order as I’m doing right now while writing this post. It is at this point that I begin to edit the words written, not only for ease of reading, but also from the point of view of spacing, capitalization when required, spelling, grammar and punctuation. While at the same time asking myself what other words can I use that mean the exact same thing, but still clearly convey my meaning to the reader, bearing in mind that there is alway more than one way to say something.

There is only one method when it comes to writing to be avoided at all costs. Sitting in front of your exercise book, typewriter or computer kidding yourself that by churning out thousands of words per day, that somehow by osmosis, doing so makes you a writer. It doesn’t! For the serious independent writer like myself, this line of thinking is a complete fallacy!

In the end all you have achieved is a big mess for someone else to fix, when you should have cleaned the manuscript up yourself before presenting it to your editor, if you use one!

All you have to do is think back to those bad marks you got in class for handing in sloppy work when you presented your essay or composition to your teacher? In this instance imagine that your editor is that teacher, wearing his or her ‘we are not amused’ expression on his or her face, at the prospect of having to make sense of your rambling manuscript…

We all see prime examples on a daily basis right here in the Blogosphere. If you can’t write an error free blog post, what makes you think you can write an error free book manuscript?

NaNoWriMo and other get it down quick notions have a lot to answer for! I’m pretty sure the concept was dreamt up by someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. 😉

Once you are finally happy with the paragraph, move on to the next and repeat each step I have mentioned. If your word count reaches somewhere between two hundred and fifty and five hundred words using this method, take it from me you have done a good day’s work.

Why do I limit the number of words I write each day? Simple – a little thing I call brain-fade! Ask yourself how long you can work at 100% capacity before you lose your concentration. This is precisely the reason why I constantly stop what I’m doing to take a breather. What you have to learn is to walk away from it! Go and make yourself a drink or get something to eat. In other words distract yourself. You can always return to it later. I normally work for no more than two hours at a stretch each and every day until I’ve reached the last word in the manuscript.

Each morning when I switch this laptop on, I open the Word file I’m using and once again begin the editing process by reading through what I’ve previously written. Often I see something that needs to be changed. Once I have corrected any mistakes during the daily read through, I can then begin to write the next paragraph.

See, its simple if you know how. My method of constant editing is not for everyone, but it works for me. Remember what I said earlier – a high daily word count is not a good thing unless you have no choice ie, you are a contracted writer for one of the big five publishing houses, where time is money and badly written manuscripts are the norm…

There is one last point for you to consider, turn off the in house spelling or grammar checkers within any writing software package you use. There is no substitute for having a dictionary like the Oxford English and its thesaurus close at hand. Learn to rely on the mark one eyeball like every writer worth their salt does.

PS – right that’s it, lesson over…

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Let’s face facts – these days many people simply can’t be bothered to read a book, especially here in the UK, particularly if its an e-book!

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There is an old saying – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The same applies when it comes to asking people to read your books, especially here in the UK where e-books still take a back seat to their paperback and hard cover cousins.

The one thing you can never do is force someone to read your book. All you can hope for is to make them aware of its existence by using all of the social media sites as well as word of mouth and emails to advertise its existence. Why is that? Because the numbers currently waiting to be read is quite literally in the millions. So, don’t be too surprised if after all your hard work writing it, plus spending money having it edited and marketed, that apart from the few taken for free on promotions by the growing number of tightwads who begrudge paying money for a book, that any and all interest in it will dramatically fall, often within a single twenty-four hour day once the promotion is over.

Don’t be tempted to beg potential readers to read your book with ‘buy my book’ pleas, or for that matter to bombard every book site you can think of on a daily basis with your titles. Both practices only highlight how unprofessional you are!!! All it does is turn people off, especially on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Unless your name is Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown or Stephen King etc,etc, like todays painters we have to have another source of income while we’re alive. When a painter dies, normally their works increase in value. In our case, our publishers continue to make money. In both cases neither the former writer or painter benefits.

So do you still want to write? If your answer is yes, be prepared for a hell of a lot of hard work for little gain, let alone recognition.

One thing you must do is maintain a high profile on social media at all times. The other thing I would also advise you to do is to operate a blog like this one. Don’t just talk about all things writing as so many tend to do. Your potential reading public want to know about you, what makes you tick. Your likes and dislikes. But don’t bore them to death…

During your writing career you can expect a hell of a lot of criticism, not only by the reading public, but also by some of your fellow writers, who think they know far better than you how to write your story.  TAKE IT FROM ME – THEY DON’T! If you want my advice – grow a thick skin. Turn the other cheek and never stop writing.

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On writing

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Why do we write? Why do we feel driven to do it? Perhaps its a state of mind. Some believe it is a calling.

One thing is certain, many like myself willingly sacrifice what most would consider a normal existence for an impoverished lifestyle of self-imposed solitude in order that the story which has consumed us for months or years in many cases, finally appears in print.

Pass any of us in the street and you would be hard pressed to pick us out of the crowd. Most of my neighbours have no clue that I’m a published author. If pressed by one of them, would I tell them? Maybe, if I thought they were genuinely interested. Most are not.

Touch wood that so far no one round here has ever asked me the inane question that writers of my acquaintance in the US have been confronted with from time to time, “Would I have read anything you’ve written?”

I wonder how many of them wished they’d answered with, “How the hell would I know, I’m not a bloody mind reader you idiot?” or a series of four letter words to that effect. Perhaps the reason I haven’t been subjected to stupidity like that is because the only thing my neighbours do know for certain about me is that I don’t suffer fools.

After twenty-one years of writing, what is patently obvious to me is that we are a breed apart from the rest…

Why Do Writers Write?

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You may as well ask why do painters paint, or sculptors sculpt. Like them, we have a burning desire within us to produce something for posterity. In our case, for your reading pleasure. The serious writer isn’t in it for the money, only the story. Nor are we attempting to become famous during our lifetimes, just to be read.

Sculptors use chisels and other tools to release that statue trapped inside the block of marble. Painters use brushes, palette knives and all manner of paints and pigments to produce that painting which you admire in an art gallery. Whereas we use words to paint a picture for your imagination to feast on.

By its very nature, writing is a solitary occupation. You have to have a writer’s soul and a total commitment to the craft, not to mention a steely determination.

An editor or a teacher of English can give you an explanation for every part of speech in the English language, be it verb; adverb, noun or pronoun, etc, etc. But if you are a writer, what a particular word is formally categorized as by the academically minded is utterly irrelevant? Leave that kind of thing up to your editor. Does a sculptor need to know how to make a chisel, or a painter how to make a paint brush? No. In our case what matters is knowing how to use words to their best effect. To achieve that takes years of practice.

To aid us in writing that story for you, we employ our equivalent of brushes and chisels by spending endless hours researching and fact-finding as well as using our dictionary and thesaurus for the best choice of word, plus reading the works of others.

So, the next time you feel the need to pass judgment on a book you have just read, pause for a moment and ask yourself this simple question, “could I have written it any better?” If you are honest, chances are the answer will be no.

Further to that point, in a recent post on Facebook put out by the BBC about J.K Rowling sharing some of the rejection letters she received over the years with would-be writers, certain sarcastic armchair critics jealous of her success, immediately went on the attack by amongst other things, claiming she can’t write. Nothing surprising there. Most social networking sites and fora automatically attract highly opinionated hate filled individuals.

Not prepared to simply let them get away with it, I posted the following comment – “I see a hell of a lot of envy by people who should know better going on here.

It’s interesting that after I’d posted my comment the criticism slowed to a trickle, particularly when other people agreed with me. One of them went as far as saying to one of the critics, “tell you what, why don’t you give me the name of a book you’ve written?” Not unsurprisingly they received no reply.

While Joanne will never know how we rallied to her defense unless one of you tells her, it’s nice to be able to silence a handful of the highly vocal idiots out there from time to time, don’t you think.

Score one for all writers…

😉

I thought perhaps you might appreciate a helping hand

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In order to assist all of you in deciding whether or not you will actually want an Ebook copy of my crossover novella Céleste, pictured above, pay attention!!

To clarify, at the moment there is absolutely no point whatsoever in you trying to look for it. I thought I’d better make that point crystal clear as some people think its already available. NOT YET – BE PATIENT!

Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it is right here on my blog, along with its Amazon.com link.

In the meantime to help you out a little more, I have the greatest of pleasure in publishing for the first time anywhere, the carefully considered impressions of three of today’s finest writers in their respective genres, in the order in which I have included them on the novella’s second page, where you will find that I have hyperlinked their respective names back to one of their own books in grateful thanks. They will also feature together with the blurb as its online description (in that instance, minus the hyperlinks of course) once I have submitted it for publication.

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“Eason’s best work yet, his new book Céleste combines romance and science fiction in a story that has a twist on every page” – Nicholas Rossis

 
“Romance beyond the stars abounds in this sensuous sci-fi, entwined with mission, morals and lust. Eason takes us to a place where human desire dwells in mankind and aliens alike, no matter how many light years away” – D.G. Kaye

“Jack Eason never rests. When he is not knee deep in archaeology, or wandering around forests in elf fables, he is busy combining sci-fi with a little added romantic spice” – Derek Haines

 

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One last thing, if any of you are hoping I will offer it for free at some point – sorry, but that will not be the case where this novella is concerned. I invested a lot of money in commissioning its cover, which I need to recoup. You don’t do that by giving the book away now do you?

So, there you have it. As you saw, Nicholas, Debby and Derek loved reading it, hopefully you will too…

More later,

Jack

😀

As Writers We Need An Official Voice

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Remember my post about the pitfalls of ‘free books’ the other day https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/whats-wrong-with-getting-an-ebook-for-nothing/ not forgetting this one about reviews https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/are-book-reviews-really-necessary/ Here is another one from Derek on the subject we all hate, but have to participate in to gain publicity for our book(s) http://www.derekhaines.ch/vandal/2014/11/the-land-of-free-shit

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Now back to the reason for this post. As independant writers, from time to time don’t you wish we had a vociferous champion to protect us from the machinations of publishers. Yesterday I chanced upon a possibility in the form of a guild.

Guilds for professional writers are spread throughout the world. In effect they are the literary equivalent of a union. While we Indies are not salaried, (paid a wage for what we do) there’s no getting away from the fact that many of us write full time. In my book that makes us professional writers as well.

So long as we continue being individuals, we have no teeth! But if our publishers knew that we were members of a powerful writing guild, maybe, just maybe, they would think twice before treating us with disdain. Either we amalgamate into an organisation like a guild or we continue on in the same old way as a bunch of individuals tilting at windmills.

Well, what do you think? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m heartily sick of being treated like a second rate citizen and cash cow by my publisher. Here is the link to the guild in question:

http://www.independentauthorsguild.com/

If any of you are already members, perhaps you can enlighten the rest of us about it. How much clout does it have? In other words, does it stick up for its members interests? I’ve read its mission statement. Like all mission statements it says a lot but promises damn all. Therefore I have my doubts as to whether or not it is a true guild and as such is a force to be reckoned with. Judging by what they don’t say, it looks as if they are merely a collection of self-important individuals. In which case calling themselves a guild is a complete misnomer. If I’m proved correct, then its back to searching for the real McCoy. In the meantime, make your own minds up about it by clicking on the link above to examine it. Then leave your thoughts here.

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