Screenplay for The Blue Dress

When I decided to try writing a screenplay, I wanted to begin with a small project. I chose one of my short stories called The Blue Dress.

Final Draft Screenwriting SoftwareThe screenplay is about 20 minutes. Most of the action takes place in one house (exterior, bedroom, hallway, stairs, living room, dining room, and porch) and a sidewalk. The cast includes 3 adult and 2 child roles. The script calls for a car from the 1940s.

Read the script for The Blue Dress.

Immediate screenplay problems

I entered the screenplay into 17 festivals. While I waited for the results, I was learning about some problems my script would have attracting a director or a production company:
1. a short film has a better chance for success if it is less than 10 minutes.
2. although the film takes place in one house, each room requires a time-consuming camera setup and lighting.
3. Five actors is on the high end. Scheduling three or fewer is less complicated.
4. Finding specific props for a period drama can be costly and take time.

Submitting a script to a festival may have the added advantage of receiving a written critique from the judge. As of July 1, 2016, the screenplay has been accepted by 4 festivals, has been ‘table read’ by actors, and has won $25. It’s been rejected by 4 festivals.

Judges’ critique

Screenplay for The Blue DressOne criticism was that Act One was too long. A film script has a three act structure. Act One introduces the characters, establishes the time and place, and ends with the event that catapults the drama into Act Two. If Act One takes its time, the audience will lose interest.

Several judges complained that there was too much dialogue and not enough action, that a character-driven drama is too problematic in a short film, and that most scenes did not have enough conflict.

Watching the video of the ‘table-read’ of the script, I found myself losing concentration. If I’m bored, how will the audience react?

At this stage of my development as a screenwriter, my main goal is to complete several scripts as writing samples. In the film business,,a producer usually isn’t interested in the projects you pitch, BUT if he likes your enthusiasm and is impressed with your writing talent, he will, in many cases, ask you to work on one of his current projects.

 

Echo from Mount Royal wins two prizes

Echo from Mount Royal wins two prizes in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Contest:Echo from Mount Royal wins two prizes

  • Winner in the General Fiction/Novel category
  • Second Place Grand Prize Winner for all fiction books

See the list of Winners here

What is the Indie Book Awards

The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the largest Not-for-Profit book awards program for indie authors and independent publishers.
2016 Indie Book 2nd Grand Prize 2016 Indie Book Fiction Winner

 

In its ninth year of operation, the Awards were established to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books for the year.

 

 

The Awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (IBPPG) in cooperation with the Allen O’Shea Literary Agency.

Watch the book trailer for Echo from Mount Royal, a novel about a strange romance in the Montreal of 1951.
Read the first three chapters of the novel
To purchase the Kindle version on Amazon, click here
All ebook formats are available from Smashwords, click here
Also available on Barnes and Noble

Trailer: Echo from Mount Royal

Watch the book trailer for Echo from Mount Royal, a novel about a strange romance in the Montreal of 1951.
Read the first three chapters of the novel
To purchase the Kindle version on Amazonclick here
All ebook formats are available from Smashwords, click here
Also available on Barnes and Noble

Creating the ad:

I earned a Masters degree in Broadcast Journalism from the School of Communication at Boston University in 1974 (a long, long time ago).School of Communications, Boston University After graduation, I was hired by the University of New Hampshire. I worked on a grant to film, script, and edit videotapes about federal government programs for the elderly.

This was back in the days when videotaping was done on reel-to-reel tapes. Portable color cameras were just coming on the market. Editing videotape was a time-consuming, nerve-wracking process where the slightest error could mean starting from scratch. We never dreamed that one day a filmmaker could edit videotape on a personal computer! (What was a personal computer?)

When I decided to get a book trailer, I couldn’t help reverting back to my former profession. I scripted the one-minute trailer, picking the visuals and music. Tanja from BooksGoSocial put it all together.

Whatever possessed you?

I am often asked this question by a reader: Whatever possessed you as a man to write a novel from the point of view of an 18-year-old Jewish girl living in Montreal in 1951?

Possessed is the right word. Every morning, I had coffee in a café where I read a book to unwind after commuting to my job in Boston. Riva Weiss, an elderly woman who also stopped at the café before work, introduced herself and asked me what I was reading. Over several years, we discussed authors we liked and swapped favorite books.

When I told her I was retiring, she asked about my future plans. I said I wanted to write short stories “and maybe a novel.”

Rebecca WisemanRiva began telling me several stories about her childhood in Montreal. When I said they would make great short stories, she encouraged me to ‘write them up.’ I jumped at the chance.

One morning, soon after I finished writing two stories, Riva noted that I enjoyed literature with ‘dark’ themes. When I agreed she said, “Well then, I’ve got a story for you.” Over the next half hour she talked about her engagement when she was 18 years old to a young, wealthy man in Montreal in 1951. I was astounded by her story and couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Front Cover for Echo from Mount Royal

She graciously offered me the chance to ‘write’ it up. Immediately I was fascinated but knew that this was more than a short story. Riva was surprised when I brought in chapter after chapter for her to read. “I thought this was going to be another short story.” Like the apprentice’s broomsticks, the chapters kept coming. “But you haven’t even got to the proposal yet!” Even I wasn’t prepared for the final length: 90,000 words. “We’ve got a novel,” she said.

Purchase the Kindle version here.

Advice for the Beginning Writer

When asked by the New Yorker Magazine how she wrote so many books, Nora Roberts answered ‘Ass in chair.’ That’s the best advice for beginning writers.

  • Spend time each week and write. Not thinking about writing. WRITING.
  • Keep a journal to record thoughts and impressions. It’s amazing how those little notes can inspire you years later.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Don’t show anyone your work until you’ve gone over it carefully 5 times.
  • Before you publish your work, hire a professional editor and a proofreader. Having a clean and error-free manuscript is worth every penny. My editors can be found here, here, and here.
  • Develop a thick skin. Don’t argue when someone offers criticism. Some of ‘my’ best ideas have been suggested by other writers.
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  • Take writing classes at adult education centers. Join a writer’s critique group. You’ll learn as much critiquing others’ work as you will from their reviews of your work.
  • Join Facebook and Facebook logoLinkedIn groups for writers.
  • Send out your work to websites that publish new authors — not to make money, but to get your work out there and gain self-confidence.
  • Never give up. Don’t panic if you think that you’ve got “writer’s block.” Sit down and write whatever comes into your head. You are a writer as long as you write. Publishing doesn’t make you a writer.
  • Take time to live your life. You don’t know everything when you’re 25 or even 40. I’m still learning at 68.
  • Read, read, read. Everything. Never be without a book. Take two with you in case you finish one while you’re away from home.
  • Observe, listen, and daydream.

Good luck.

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