Screenwriting: Genre, Setting, Concept

In this post I share with you three other elements that are included in the proposal of a screenplay.

Genre:

In Save The Cat (see my previous post) Blake Snyder mentions ten types of genres. He cautions about staying away from “standard genre types such as Romantic Comedy, Epic or Biography- because those names don’t really tell me anything about what the story is.”

As a standard genre my story is romantic drama, but in following Snyder’s advice my genre falls under the Rites of Passage type. “These are tales of pain and torment , but usually from an outside force; Life.” Movies that Snyder classifies under this type include stories about puberty, mid-life crisis, old age, romantic break-up, and grieving stories.

Settings:

Although my series takes place in part in India, Italy and Boston I have omitted these scenes from the screenplay. I do mention the character going to India but I only speak of her impressions upon her return. Similarly, I do not have the character go to Boston or Italy. The reason for doing this is that film producers are money minded. Having the crew travel to film a scene ups the costs which might make a producer reject the screenplay.

So my settings are: A women’s center in a middle-class area of a city. Bars and pubs, restaurants. The characters’ apartments. Conference hall. Art Gallery. Inside taxi cab. Backyard garden. Museum. Gym. Office. Golf Course. Library. Construction site of a donut shop. Inside a car.

These are easily filmed on set or at least in the city where the film is being made.

Concept:

This is the synopsis of the story. One thing I was told to keep in mind, is that the agents/producers/directors are busy people and don’t have time to read through pages of what your film or series is about. What they will be more interested in is the script itself which I will talk about in another post.

The concept is the heart of the proposal and includes:

An introduction to the idea of your story along with main emotions and theme. Here you can include one sentence story examples.

A paragraph which outlines the story in each episode – its beginning and ending.

Visual Elements that are in the story. Is it entertainment, an interview, narration, animation. Is there a host?

Finally, clarity and brevity is key.

Please note that I will not be as active on Social Media for the next while as my family is preparing a funeral for my brother-in-law and in the weeks that follow I will be involved in helping care of my sister, who is eighty, and will need support as she begins her grieving process.

Based on my Getting To Mr. Right Series

Please visit my author page on Amazon

THE LOGLINE

A few weeks ago I completed a twelve hour course on Creating A TV Series Proposal given by Jennifer McAuley sponsored by The Quebec Writers’ Federation.

One of the features of writing a proposal for TV is to have a GREAT logline. It’s one to three sentences that grabs the agent, producer, director, audience attention to your story. It is precise and gets to the point of your story.

Here’s my logline for my TV script (which might change as I go along writing the script) but for now here it is:

According to Keri Novak’s PhD study group, women who have had absent fathers grow up assuming that they are doomed to unsuccessful relationships with men. That is, until Keri meets her own Prince Charming putting her research and the award she is about to receive in jeopardy.

Does this grab your attention?

Based on my Getting to Mr. Right Series

Please visit my author page on Amazon.

Toni Pike: Linda’s Midlife Crisis

I am used to associating Toni Pike’s writing with crime and thrillers, not this delightful modern feel-good women’s fiction and so it was a surprise for me to see it on her post.  

The first part of the novel is about Linda’s marriage to Ron, a horrible man.

He was the sort of person who brought joy whenever he departed, a feeling of peace and freedom that lasted until the moment of his return.

Ron is constantly criticizing Linda, especially her weight, treats her like his servant and is often going out at night coming home smelling of alcohol. Linda stays in the marriage because she doesn’t know what else to do and likes her home when her husband is at work or playing golf. As much as Linda is the glass half full type of person Ron is eternally pessimistic.

Aside from her marriage, Linda also hates teaching although there was a time when it was her passion but things have changed.

She had once been a great teacher, popular with students and respected by other staff members. Every year, a little gloss had been wiped away and now only a dull, rusted undercoat was left. It was so hard to look forward to a day at school when a riot could break out at any moment and every lesson was like trying to tame a herd of wild beasts.

Linda has a breakdown (or perhaps a breakthrough). She spends a great deal of her time in bed eating chocolates and gaining weight something which Ron doesn’t let her forget.  

If you’re not better tomorrow, then I’m leaving. I’m not taking care of an invalid for the rest of my life. There’s nothing wrong with you, apart from being too fat and too lazy to go to work.

When Linda doesn’t change Ron asks for a divorce and off Linda goes gaining enthusiasm, energy and the will to take care of herself.

The remainder of the novel is sweet and reminiscent of the Television show I used to watch as a kid: Leave it to Beaver. It has that kind, family feel to it. Beneath her submission towards Ron, Linda is a very astute woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her character adds a fun, easy relaxing and pleasant read.

We see Linda thrive through the obligations of life: getting a house ready to sell. Finding an apartment. Moving to a different city, closer to her sister. Quitting her job. Finding work in fashion. Taking care of herself. Embarking on a new and loving relationship and writing.

Linda was an English teacher who once loved to write, but life with Ron had dulled her inspiration and melted the muse.

The book also contains some heartwarming sentences:

… your heart matches your lovely face. Said by new boyfriend, Dennis.

Linda uses her struggles with weight to write inspiring articles for The Canberra News Magazine which motivates her in setting goals for her own weight loss program.

She loved trying to write with clarity, transposing the thoughts in her brain to paper and then polishing them carefully.

As the stain of verbal and psychological abuse fades, Linda becomes more confident and someone you’d love to hang out with.

It’s an upbeat novel and Pike shows that there are happy endings even for those in mid-life.

An enjoyable read that is bound to take you out of any morose mood you might be in.

Two Books to Warm Your Heart

It’s been freezing cold here and so it was the perfect weather to bundle up with a warm sweater, a pair of woolen socks, a blanket and a couple of books from some blogger friends. One a mystery, the other a contemporary romance.  

Lauren is tired of living with her in laws, especially her dominating mother-in-law and can hardly wait to be able to move out with her husband, Ben, and have the privacy and liberty she craves.

Her desires to escape her current situation make her the perfect target for falling for a get rich quick scam. By doing so, she practically loses all her and her husband’s life savings and in the process is destroying her marriage.

There is more to this novel besides the scam which places it above the white color crime genre and into the mystery crime novel.

This was an easy read and one that anybody who is thinking of embarking in a get rich scheme ought to read this book. It’s bound to make you think twice about giving your well earned money away.

SCAM is a fast paced novel with well developed characters. It is a story about forgiveness, mistakes and the power of love.

It’s short enough to be read in one sitting which I did not because of its length but because I couldn’t put it down. All in all a fun read.

SEARCHING FOR HOME takes place in a small village in Whispering Slopes in the Shenandoah Valley. Meg is both a physical therapist and runs a B&B which her sister left her along with a set of five-year-old triplets. Life is running along smoothly enough for Meg until Luke, an old boyfriend who dumped her, walks back into her life.

Cowboy Luke, as the triplets call him, is a famous bull rider who not only wants to win back Meg’s heart but sees the triplets as an opportunity to have the family he always craved for. He is especially drawn to little Tucker who has a chip on his shoulder for having been abandoned by his parents – something Luke can well understand and identify with. He himself has had a difficult past  – an unwanted child and always seeking but never getting his father’s approval. So he understand the little boy’s anger at his father abandoning him.

Romance novels, at least for me, make me relax and forget about any problems or duties awaiting me. Jill’s novels are comfort food for the soul. As all of Jill Weatherholt’s novels, this is a feel-good book. It’s also sweet proving that not all sweets are bad for you.

Ellie Marrandette: A Place to Belong

Most of us at one point in our lives struggle to find our purpose in life. A Place to Belong is Katerine LeVay Cunningham’s (Kate) personal battle in search for her purpose in her life.

It is not enough that she is married to a wealthy movie producer who adores her and that her marriage is one full of romance and tenderness. Following her husband on his movie shoots does not satisfy her personal needs for fulfillment.  

A Place to Belong is the third of a trilogy (although it can also standalone) and when we meet Kate she is in NYC with her loving British husband, Robert, who is directing a movie on the American Revolution. Throughout the novel the relationship between Kate and Robert is a romantic, tender one.

However, Kate is haunted by her past and until she puts to rest the secret, perfect crime which she has committed there will be no peace for Kate.

But before Kate gets to this peaceful place the novel veers towards her newly found relationship with Casey, her daughter, a pro golfer champion who was abducted when she was five. There is also the discovery of a brother Kate did not know she had.

The novel has revenge, success, Christian values, a wedding in a hospital, close friendships, adultery, courage, an entertaining wake and a surprising explanation for her deceitful and womanizing first husband’s death.  

There are several settings which the author does an excellent job taking us through such interesting places as: Boston, NYC, Charleston, Sorrento, Italy and Ayrshire, Scotland.

The prose is smooth and the dialogue is authentic while the entire novel flows at a fast pace.

I was a Beta reader for this novel and when I read it again in its final version, I was even more captivated by the story and marveled at Ellie’s strong story telling talent.

There are several memorable characters in the novel. It is refreshing to read a novel filled with good people with strong family values.

Robyn Harding: The Arrangement

It was a pleasure to read Robyn Harding’s the Arrangement. I was immediately hooked into this novel.

The first half of the novel reads like a romantic novel where poor girl finds her prince charming (put aside the sugar daddy and sugar baby dynamics). What woman wouldn’t want the kind of attention and love which Gabe showered so generously on Nat? Think Pretty Woman.

Through Robyn Harding’s intensive research on sugar babies, (which she describes in her Acknowledgements), we get a good glance into this dark and tightly controlled world.

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving. *

The second half of the novel is a mystery/court case/crime novel.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder. *

I was surprised that one of the categories in the product description was kidnapping thriller, which I did not find pertinent to this novel. Unless I’m missing something.

The ending was satisfactory and somewhat unexpected; it had a comfortable feel to it and the novel moved at a relatively fast pace. It was a rather long book but well worth my time.

* Italic text is from the book description on Amazon.

Jill Weatherholt: A Dream of Family

Are you looking to spend some time with some really nice people? People who have values and can touch your heart? An uplifting and inspiring novel?

Then pick up A Dream of Family and hang out with the characters in Jill Weatherholt’s latest novel.

There’s Molly who’s bookstore dream is in danger of being taken over by a big box bookstore. Not only does her dream of adopting Grace – whose foster care abuse is heartbreaking and erringly similar to Molly’s – depend on her financial success with her bookstore, but she also hopes to have enough success so that she could spend time writing her short stories and novel.

There’s Derek who’s still hurting from his father’s secret and must learn forgiveness in order to be able to trust in love and family once again.

Then there’s adorable six-year-old Grace who wishes for a forever family. Derek’s dog Duke, wins over little Grace’s heart offering the reader some precious scenes that are bound to melt your own heart.

I loved the mixture of business, writing and romance. Besides being a sweet story, the novel also offers some practical and realistic advice on how to run a successful business from branding to making use of technology. Derek’s optimism running his coffee shops spills over in his personality filled with infectious enthusiasm.

There are many tender moments in Jill Weatherholts’ signature feel good novel. One of my favorites was this one:

“I get tired of moving. I want my own room with bookshelves filled with books and a dog like Duke.”

“I want it for you too, sweetie.” She (Molly) took in a deep breath. “I’d like to give you all of that and more, Grace.”

I loved every page in this book from Molly’s rocky start to a very satisfying surprise ending.  

J.E. Spina: In A Second

In A Second has many layers. First there is the abusive husband and cruel father whom Spina takes to its ultimate limits.

Then there is the relationship between the three generations of women: mother (Carla), grandmother (Grace) and daughter (Athena) who, for those of you old enough to remember, brought to my mind The Golden Girls. Along with these three wonderful characters is their abilities to see into the future and erase memories.

Third, there is romance. Lots of heartwarming romance but not until there has been heartbreak, danger and surprises.

 Mix all of these levels and what you get is a suspenseful novel full of twists, intrigues, sitting on the edge of your seat and reading far into the night.

A month after being in a coma due to an accident, Athena finds her memory distorted and is obsessed with a man she believed she was to marry and whom she also believes was in the car with her at the time of the accident. Nobody in her family has ever heard of him. Is she living a memory or seeing into the future?

Add to this J.E. Spina’s reasons as to why Carla remains with an abusive husband and Athena’s telepathic connection with her grandmother Grace.

There’s lots to digest in this novel where clairvoyance plays a strong role.

This is the second novel I read by J.E. Spina. The first was Hunting Mariah, a fast-paced thriller.

She has also written a new book, Lubelia Alycea – a historical romance.

Paperback Writer

Finally, I have my e-books into paperback and it was a frustrating journey. First, the technical designer I hired didn’t work out after three months of back and forth with her. Then, the second technical consultant wasn’t able to put two of my e-books into paperback either because the one of the original e-book cover no longer existed or the owner of the other e-book was asking an exorbitant amount of money to use it. Then, there was the problem of Kindle’s size requirements, which luckily my technical consultant was able to deal with.

In the end, I ended up having to choose different covers for two of my paperbacks. So, three months later, here are my paperback novels.

About the Getting to Mr. Right Series

The series starts off by focusing on Campbell Jones –an award-winning relationship-therapist at the peak of her career. Friendship and support shared between the characters of Campbell’s focus group evolves as the novel progresses.

The underlying theme throughout the original Getting to Mr. Right and the four novellas which follow is “being true to oneself.” The novellas are all expansions of the main story – dating adventures for Missi, a café for Suzy, dealing with an uprooted life for Felicity and an unexpected pregnancy on the edge of mid-life for Campbell. The series has gone beyond the original premise of “Getting a man” and in true women’s fiction style, deals with the issues that come after “happily ever after.” Although all these women are now in romantic relationships, it’s more the by-product of living their lives fully than a pursuit for finding a partner.

Click on the book titles to order

Book 1: Getting to Mr. Right

Campbell’s research into the father/daughter dynamic and how it affects a woman’s personal choices proves that Prince Charming is nothing but a myth. In a few months, she will receive international recognition for her work.As part of her study, Campbell gives workshops to help women still seeking Mr. Right. Her latest group is made up of three women: Missi Morgan, who can’t seem to let go of a philandering spouse; Suzy Paradise, a self-proclaimed queen of online dating; and Felicity Starr, whose life and career are dictated by a controlling father.In the midst of her study, a charming and personable man enters Campbell’s life, putting her theories in shambles. Not only does she now question the validity of her research, but she must choose between her career and having her own Prince Charming. This personal dilemma makes it difficult for Campbell to give these women advice, as she encourages them to find their own paths to happiness and helps them set themselves free.

Book 2: Missi’s Dating Adventures

Missi Morgan is your everyday middle-aged woman who is suddenly thrust into an online dating world after years of married bliss. After learning to let go of Max, her husband who dumped her, Missi explores the world of online dating. Through one disastrous date after another, Missi learns lessons that help her discover what she truly wants. She may not find the perfect match but she finds the perfect self.

A romantic comedy for anybody having to tackle online dating and letting go.

Book 3: Not By Design

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes. Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths. Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

Book 4: Cafe Paradise

Most of Suzy Paradise’s dreams died along with her son over twenty years ago.
One thing has re-ignited her passion for living – running her own café, which specializes in home-baked donuts. For Suzy, this is a long-cherished dream come true. Her business is starting to flounder when Donuts-A-Million, a giant chain, opens across the street from her. Her unexpected attraction to Coen Walsh, a regular customer at her café, creates more tension when she learns of his affiliation with her competitor.
Café Paradise is about Suzy’s fight to save her business in spite of the odds. Sometimes, she realizes, dreams have an expiration date and it takes just as much courage to let them go.
Along the way, she must re-define the meaning of work, family and romance so she can find her own formula for happiness.

Book 5: The Longest Nine Months

In Getting to Mr. Right, Campbell debunked the Prince Charming myth, only to meet a special man who turned all her assumptions upside down.
Now she’s married to Chand. But Happily-Ever-After turns out to be another illusion.
Campbell deals with job burnout and struggles to find her place in the world. An unexpected pregnancy and its complications undermine her relationship with Chand and take her to a difficult crossroad. No matter which way she decides to go, nothing will ever be the same!

OTHER BOOKS

Warning Signs

A psychological crime novel about obsession. Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her savior from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together? Detective Van Ray is on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection. Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological crime novel about human frailty and loneliness.

Mourning Has Broken – A Memoir on Grief

Mourning Has Broken offers a moving and poignant look at grief and loss. In this collection of narrative non-fiction essays, the author speaks from the heart not only about the death of a dear sister but also about the mourning of a mother, a father, a dear friend, a career and a religion. Readers who have known loss will find much to relate to in this book, and will particularly appreciate the author’s ability to be frank and open and at times humorous about feelings that might be difficult to acknowledge.

Sally Cronin: Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries, Sally Cronin’s latest book, displays “the complexities of life, love, and loss.” 

Composed of a series of well written short stories, poems and photos, the book begins on a humorous and ironical note on how a woman’s weight loss is cyber controlled – be careful what you put on the internet, folks.

 In keeping with her technology theme, the author shifts course in a sweet, touching story about Jenny – a lonely divorcee who finds a family across the globe thanks to DNA testing.

Sally Cronin’s characters are ordinary people doing ordinary things but in an exquisite way. Take for example, Molly who is interested in horticulture where “not everything you plan will turn out the way you expect.” Alice, a florist who developed “a flare for elaborate floral displays.”  Spunky Elsie Windsor, 93 out on a date with a teenager. Women who fight for their rights such is the case of a woman in the midst of a marriage filled with abuse, patriarchal control and violence.

Romance has many twist and turns. Romantic love can be tragic as Elaine and Tom learn the truth about how their parents kept them apart.

The characters in Sally Cronin’s stories reflect real people. Kind people. Charitable women. Women with big hearts. Courageous women. Loving husbands. Generous women who help a young homeless young man with his own story to share about hunger.

This is a very positive book where love, courage and charity are the winners.

A book to lighten us as we go through these dark days.

The book is also sprinkled with poetry. Here’s one I chose because it’s shaped as a Christmas tree and well, ‘tis the Season. 

Two Hearts

When

You meet

The someone

Who sparks a flame

In your heart and mind

Passion is ignited.

Even when the years have passed

The rapport that has developed,

Energized with a sense of humour,

Binds your two hearts together forever

Visit Sally Cronin’s Blog Magazine for some Christmas cheer