Scriptwriting

Several years ago, Hilary Hemingway suggested we co-write a script for Ghost Key, the second book in my Hungry Ghosts series. I leaped at the opportunity. I’d never written a script and scriptwriting was where she and her husband, Jeff Lindsay, (Dexter) got their start years ago in L.A.

We’d known each other for at least 20 years, when she invited Rob and me to speak at an Ernest Hemingway festival on Sanibel Island, on Florida’s west coast. I spent a weekend at her home, where we broke down the story into possible scenes. We arranged our schedules so she could then spend a week at my place to write a rough draft.

I bought Final Draft, the screenwriting software, and during that week she was here, we spent 10 to 12 hours a day hammering out a 120-page rough draft. For me, it was a crash course in screenwriting. Over the next several months, we got feedback from Jeff , Hilary’s husband, and Rob and revised the script 8 times. We sent it to her agent, who wasn’t nuts about it, and to several other people. We entered it in a Final Draft contest where it got through the first round. After that, it went on that infamous back burner with which most writers are familiar.

I kept getting emails from Final Draft and in 2017, received one that interested me. One of Final Draft’s industry partners was InkTip, an outfit that essentially eliminates the middle men. Scripts go directly to producers, directors, industry pros. InkTip works with 2,500 people in the industry  that include some of the biggies like HBO, who have free access to log lines, synopses, treatments, and scripts. For about $60, a writer can have their script(s) included in the InkTips database under several genres, for 4 months. You’re asked to include information about male and female leads, possible locations, the details.

Along with the script, you include a log line, synopsis, and a resume. The log line is a brief pitch , challenging for a novelist accustomed to writing a 100,000 word novel. The synopsis is longer, about 450-500 words. Here’s the log line: “A single mother discovers that the quarantine of the island where she lives is due to ancient ghosts – “brujos” – that are seizing and inhabiting the bodies of residents and she must find a way to defeat them before she and her son are also seized.”

InkTip touches base regularly with leads about companies looking for particular types of scripts. They keep a summary sheet of viewings for the writer and specify what the producer, director, or whoever looks at. The log line is invariably first, followed by synopsis, script/resume. I uploaded our script on July 16. By the end of 2 weeks, the log line had been viewed dozens of times. InkTip requires that the pros who use the site have at least one credit to their name and I Google it and do a little research.

After a while, I sort of forgot about InkTip and decided to try a script for my novel, Black Water, a personal favorite. It’s the second book in the Mira Morales series. It takes place on the fictional island of Tango Key and involves the abduction of Mira’s 13-year old daughter and time travel. Now that I knew about the existence of InkTip, I decided I could upload the script for Black Water around the same time I renewed my 4-month subscription to InkTip.

Now the script is finished, Rob is reviewing it, and I’m learning about loglines and the synopsis. As InkTip says on their website, the logline sells the synopsis which sells the script. I bought a book on loglines that is also important for writing a novel. What’s your core idea?

I finally wrote a logline I like for Black Water:  A mother will do anything to find her abducted daughter, even follow the kidnapper 50 years back in time.

Meanwhile, Ghost Key’s info has been viewed more than 80 times, the synopsis has been viewed several times, and the whole thing – log line, synopsis, resume, and script – has been viewed once by a company called UFO Technologies. The name intrigued me. Google told me the name was the first thing the company owner had seen when renting an apartment in Brooklyn. When someone requests your script, they give their full name and address.

I did a street view of this man’s address. I felt like a stalker. But there was
something enormously liberating about this. Thanks to technology, I could discover some info about this company. Nothing has happened yet in terms of the script, but I love the idea of direct, uncensored contact between writers and industry professionals. And I love this new way of telling a story.

Now, on to Black Water.

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5 Responses to Scriptwriting

  1. Nancy says:

    I really admire your drive to stay on top of your art. I could totally see these books on the big screen!

  2. Shadow says:

    I lOvE that logline, it’s enticing, I want to know more….

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