Have you considered turning your screenplay into a novel? A graphic novel? Do you have a crazy action script that takes place in the wild west? That may be better as a novel. Do you have an animated screenplay about a girl that turns into a bird one night? Probably not, but I did, and turned it into a novel and have had more success since (see below). As we approach the New Year I want to challenge you to look to other ways to get your work out there. Explore the various approaches to storytelling, and you may find new ways of looking at your screenplay.
I would like to slightly re-purpose my blog post from the RedwoodsSociety.com blog, and include a section of my interview with Allen Warner. In my interview with him that you can find in my book, Creative Writing Career. Allen’s journey included a screenplay, a short story, and the published graphic novel series. And the screenplay was optioned! This likely would not have been possible if he just sat back and wrote the novel version, or just the screenplay version.
Justin Sloan: Allen, thank you for making time to speak with us about your writing experience, and about your latest film, The Tale of the Seas. You have some great experience with comics and games. How did you get into writing and specifically these projects?
Allen Warner: Thanks Justin. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but I got started professionally back in 2000. My longtime friend and collaborator Alé Garza had drawn an awesome image for an idea he had called Ninja Boy. It grabbed the attention of an agent at a comic convention who wanted to know if he’d be interested in pitching it as a cartoon. Alé had some ideas for names and scenes and the basic story, but hadn’t fleshed it all out, so he asked me to come on to help him fully plot it out, and bring it to life. I wrote a pretty detailed synopsis of the world, backstory, characters, plot, etc., and we bounced it back and forth until we were both happy with it. The whole experience of initially showing it to the agent and taking it to different studios is a story in and of itself, but the end result was that it got optioned by Warner Bros. Animation. Alé had previously worked for a comic company called Wildstorm Studios, and we’d always wanted to do it as a comic too, so we pitched it to them. They had me write a short story for an anthology book they had going at the time as a sort of tryout, and when that went well, we got the green light, and they published Ninja Boy as a series.
That got my foot in the door in comics, but, just as importantly, I met a bunch of really talented artists who worked for the studio, and when they needed help with something on the writing side, they would hit me up, and vice versa. Those connections led to a bunch of cool published and unpublished stories, a lot of good times, and some great friendships.
I didn’t really know anyone working in games, or at least not anyone in a position to help me get a job, but I’ve always been a gamer, and always wanted to write for games, so I just started reaching out to companies however I could. Some recruiters and producers contacted me, but honestly, most of my video game work has come via LinkedIn. I’d connect with people in a position to hire me, and send them a really brief message asking them to get in touch if they were ever looking for a writer. It led to a lot of “Sure. Will Do,” responses, but also led to a lot of interviews, tryouts, and immediate work.
By the way, Allen’s most recent animated film just finished its funding stage, so if you are curious about this amazing looking film, see more here.
BACK BY SUNRISE
Likewise, I have several stories that have been expressed as short stories, novels, and screenplays. My novel on Amazon, Back by Sunrise, was a screenplay first. It is on the MovieBytes.com top winners list under Fantasy (number 4, I believe), won a couple of screenplay contests, and placed well in several more (including Page and Austin). Placing in these contests means I am interviewed on several sites about this story and my writing, and it likely helped when the screenplay was recently optioned to be made into a film. Did my writing it as a novel help it get optioned? I don’t know, but I imagine that seeing it on Amazon with the awesome cover certainly gave the screenplay a more realistic feel.
Adapting the screenplay was a fun process, and I recommend everyone experiment with different media. I have another novel (soon to be published), that was a finalist in the San Francisco Writers Conference, and when I adapted it into a screenplay, the screenplay was a finalist in some contests. It is a fun process and a way to increase chances of success. Why not give it a try?
And as a special Christmas treat, both Back by Sunrise and Creative Writing Career are on $0.99 promotions for the next couple of days! My gift to you (your gift to me can be a review, if you enjoy the books).