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.  

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Comingofage #Crimethriller – Just Before Sunrise by Carol Balawyder

Thank you, Sally, for posting my latest novel along with Jacqui’s review of my other crime novel Warning Signs.

Follow me on Facebook at:  https://www.Facebook.com/authorcarolbalawyder

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of the latest release by Carol Balawyder – a coming of age crime thriller...Just Before Sunrise

About the book

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.

But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…

Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.

She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next…

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Jennifer Kelland Perry: Calmer Secrets

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The Cross family (Darlene, Samantha, Veronica, baby Henry and Cash, Darlene’s boyfriend) are a normal family with its own problems ranging from sibling conflict over a boy, a mother’s drinking problem and abuse.

Calmer Secrets is a novel about good people making bad choices. It is a book about an affectionate family sticking together through thick and thin.

But it is also about romantic relationships. There’s Darlene with Cash, her live-in boyfriend who get along splendidly. Then Veronica’s dating “like you’re going through a box of Kleenex,” Samantha tells her and finally there’s Samantha’s conflict between two guys.

For anyone who has gone through dating in their early twenties, you will recognize the angst, vulnerability and fragility of that period of beginning to date.

Although Calmer Secrets is classed as a Young Adult book there isn’t an age to stop enjoying a book genre. I’ve always loved YA books, often taking me back to my own young adulthood and providing me with a few new vocabulary words:

Girl, you are bangin, says one of Samantha’s boyfriend’s when he sees her appear. To which she answers You’re pretty dope yourself. By the context I took these words to mean cool.

Calmer Secrets takes place in St John’s, Newfoundland, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. It was a pleasure reading about the vibrant painted row-houses, the pubs and the mall and a major blizzard which the author cleverly uses to advance her plot.

It’s a heartwarming book. Filled with love and tenderness and suspense.

Writing Under A Pen Name

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of having an impromptu interview with Carrie Rubin about her usage of a pen name for her cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter.

Carrie isn’t alone in using a pen name. In fact, she is in good company. Can you identify the well-known writers who wrote under these pen names? (answers are at the end of the post – no cheating!).

Robert Galbraith

Richard Bachman

Dan Kavanagh

Benjamin Black

Mary Westmacott

Claire Morgan

Back to Carrie and her pen name. Here are some questions which Carrie so graciously accepted to answer.

What made you write this book under another name?   

I decided to use a pen name for the cozy mystery because it’s a different genre than what I normally write. Readers develop expectations from a writer in terms of style and plot elements, and using different names for different genres can be helpful to avoid steering a reader down the wrong path. For example, while someone might enjoy the light and clean style of my cozy mystery, they might be put off by one of my thrillers, which tend to be dark and sometimes contain violence and profanity. So, I thought it made sense to differentiate the two genres by using different names.

Has this led to any confusion or marketing difficulties? 

Marketing is always difficult and definitely not my strong suit, but I think it’s actually made it easier in the sense that my website still presents me as a writer of genre-bending medical thrillers. If I add a humorous cozy mystery to my banner of books, it might be an odd contrast. That being said, my various profiles across the internet (e.g., on Amazon, on Goodreads, on my website) mention that I also have a cozy mystery written under a pen name, and Morgan Mayer’s profile mentions she also writes thrillers under my name, so hopefully any interested readers will find their way from one author name to the other.

Are you planning to write other books under Morgan Mayer? 

I’d love to, but I’m not sure how soon because it’ll depend on what happens on the traditional publishing front. Although my agent was wonderfully accommodating and accepted my desire to go indie with The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter (much quicker path to publication than the traditional route), she currently has one of my unpublished manuscripts on submission and she’ll put another one on submission soon, so if they get deals, I’ll be busy with that for a while. Plus, I’m currently working on the third book in my Benjamin Oris thriller series. But if I get some downtime in between, it would be a lot of fun to write another cozy mystery!

What are advantages to writing under two names?

Aside from what I mentioned above, writing under different names gives an author a chance to experiment a bit. Allows them to write something they haven’t before without clouding the image of their usual line of work.

Here’s what to do if you’re thinking of using a pen name?

Here are the answers to the famous authors pen names.

JK Rowling – Robert Galbraith

Stephen King – Richard Bachman

Julian Barnes – Dan Kavanagh

Agatha Christie – Mary Westmacott

Patricia Highsmith – Claire Morgan