Feeding the Hollywood beast

It’s national novel writing month and national blog posting month, so let’s just call November what it is: national writers month. A whole month devoted to writing and finishing what you’re writing. If you’re a screenwriter, jump on this bandwagon and finish your script because you have to feed the beast. The beast is Hollywood and it devours content. It dines on scripts, short stories, comics, and novels. And Hollywood is ravenous. It tears through your content and wants, wants, wants more. It always asks, “What else you got?” 

Study

Writing at a coffee shop. Photo courtesy of Kevin McShane.

Writers have near superpowers when confronting the beast because we create content. Directors can’t direct without a script. Producers can’t produce without screenplays, novels, or short stories. Agents and managers can’t rep thin air. But writers, we create our future, our destiny. Every time you sit at your computer, you’re charting the course of your career. Be bold. Be passionate. And – the reps will likely hate me on this piece of advice – take risks. It’s the risks that get you noticed. It’s the risks that make you stand out. So take that big swing. I’m not suggesting that you try to write the next $200 million blockbuster, though that could be great. Write that unique piece that only you can write and don’t hold back.

That’s where I have been the past few weeks – feeding the beast. I’ve been writing vs. blogging. And I’ll likely be doing the day job over the next few weeks as well. I am on twitter @kammotion so let me know how your writing is going.

Scrivener logo. Artwork courtesy of Literature & Latte Ltd.

While we’re focused on the process of writing, I just started using Scrivener and am in LOVE with it. It’s an app for writing that helps organize your research and divide your writing into smaller bites. You can export files right into Final Draft and Microsoft Word. Whether you try Scrivener or not, I suggest dividing your writing into smaller chunks. Showrunner Nancy Miller (“Saving Grace”) also suggested this technique in her interview with me. It works for scripts as well as novels. When you divide your writing into smaller chunks – scenes, sequences, chapters, acts, movements, etc. – you can focus on making those chunks the best they can possibly be. As one of my professors, the late and wonderful Oscar-nominated Nina Foch (“American in Paris,” “Spartacus”) said, “Each scene is a pearl.” Polish each pearl until it is lustrous. Then put your scenes together. Your screenplay – or novel – will then be a string of pearls.

I’ve always separated my scenes and polished each one. I often write my scenes out of sequence. I might work on a scene in the first act, then jump to the third act where something is paid off. Scrivener is a wonderful tool to help you keep everything organized and easily accessible. You can also just set up a good folder system to keep yourself organized, which is what I had been doing for quite some time. You can try Scrivener for free for 30 days to see if it’ll work for you. I highly recommend it.

Final Draft also came out with their iPad app, which I have purchased but haven’t used yet. If you’ve used it, let me know what you think.

Writers, get to it! Start, finish, or polish that project you love and feed the beast. Cheers!