Wednesday, 24 October 2018

How I Optioned My Script via Twitter with Author, Screenwriter Fiona Leitch



Today's guest - Author & Screenwriter Fiona Leitch - is the ULTIMATE example of THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX, and in literal terms BUILDING. Which is exactly why I had to interview her!

Fiona has established her writing career in a very non-traditional way (which I'm all for!) as we all know, there's no set path for any filmmaker or writer to follow. AND in doing it her own way, she has come across some fantastic opportunities by using social media to her advantage! A reminder that there is no right or wrong way to pursue a career in the industry, and the endless opportunities that are available to you - you just don't know it yet.

So, if you'd like to hear how she optioned her script through Twitter AND just launched her first novel through Audible then keep on reading to hear her do's and don'ts! 


Fiona's Top Tips for aspiring authors and screenwriters when writing their first novel or spec script:


DON'T BE TOO QUICK TO START WRITING:

Yes, seriously! 
  • HAVE THE PLOT SORTED - but before you even think of picking up a pen, have it sorted in your own head first. 
  • THINK of the dialogue, characters and relationships - work it out in a clear, concise way before starting the project. Imagine how you would pitch it - if it's a struggle to explain in a short sentence, then mull it over a while longer.
  •  Give yourself TIME to figure out what will and won't work - which ultimately saves time in the long run! 
  • The most important thing is writing the first draft and finishing it - don't put so many obstacles in your way! 

The market is constantly changing and evolving - so don't take years writing one thing because the likelihood of it being relevant and marketable by the time you've finished may be slim. 



REMEMBER, THE PROCESS IS A JOURNEY!


You know your beginning and where you want to end up. 
  • Think of it as a MAP - what's going to happen in the middle, what detours will the story take and how do we end up at the finish line? Enjoy the mapping process.

  • Don't get bogged down in too much research - the audience don't need to know EVERY tiny insignificant detail you've learnt while researching. Keep it concise and to what will SERVE the story. Otherwise you run the risk of never actually starting!

  • Writing the first draft takes around 4 weeks for Fiona - and when she reads it back, often there will be certain areas which may stand out that needs more bulk. THIS is when Fiona will decide to research a bit more. DO THIS! 

Narrow your chances of falling down the rabbit hole!


ADAPT TO YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES


Know your strengths - Fiona knew dialogue was her strength due to her acting past, but equally found it something to bear in mind when writing her scripts instead of novels due to the narrative constraints. 
  • CAST your story in your head - Imagine your characters as real people/actors - it helps make you write for specific people with different 'voices' and tone in the dialogue. It limits the risk of writing flat one dimensional characters that all sound the same!
  • ADAPT & consider all options - After realising one of her scripts may translate better as a novel - Fiona used this to her advantage and submitted to the Audible competition leading to her first novel DEAD IN VENICE. 

HOW TO TURN A 'WEAKNESS' INTO SOMETHING BENEFICIAL - Fiona used the feedback she was getting and USED this to transform the script into an entirely different medium, using this FEEDBACK as her strength. 

Fiona also credits this as one of the main reasons it's been so well received by readers - for having so many strands of different genres - romance, mystery and murder!


FINDING THESE ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME POSSIBILITIES

Like getting optioned via Twitter? Yes, for Fiona that's exactly what happened! 

Why Twitter is a window to the industry - endless access to contacts and information about potential networking opportunities. Fiona tweeted a logline for her political romantic comedy and one day found an email through her direct site from an emerging producer in LA which has since been optioned. 

You just never know who is watching on social media! 
  • WATCH everything - learn the basic format of a script, try a free trial of screenwriting software instead of using Word! Remember, professional!  Really get to know your genre inside out.

  • Connect with likeminded industry members, - find a common ground via an online writing group or filmmaking platform. This is an industry built on relationships and connecting with people - it's a collaborative world so GET OUT THERE and introduce yourself!

  • Get feedback from trusted sources - find people who know what they're talking about NOT your best friend or somebody who is ready to point out everything wrong with your work. It's not constructive. You want to know HONESTLY what works and what doesn't. For example, don't send a romantic comedy to somebody who's favourite films are the Fast and Furious franchise! 


So, there you have it - you've heard it straight from somebody who's DOING IT! Now, it's your turn!

You can find Fiona over on her Twitter and her website HERE! 
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