Tag: screenwriting

Jessica Knoll sitting at a table in a restaurant

Jessica Knoll Set Out to Be Successful. Why Is That a Bad Thing?

March 21st saw The Cut’s publication of Maggie Bullock’s interview with bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive and The Favorite Sister, Jessica Knoll. The interview is entitled “How to Be a Writer and Still Get Really, Really Rich,” and is part of a series called Get That Money, described by The Cut as ‘an exploration of the many ways we think about our finances — what we earn, what we have, and what we want. As part of the series, we’re interviewing women about how they feel about their bank balances.’ The interview features Knoll—whose first book Luckiest Girl Alive is being made into a film by Reese Witherspoon, and whose second book The Favorite Sister is being adapted for television by the producers of Big Little Lies—discussing, in no uncertain terms, how she deliberately set out to write a New York Times bestseller, and intended to become extremely wealthy from writing. She says of the initial sale of the book: “We had an offer from Simon & Schuster. It was quite a large number, but then two more offers came in over the next couple of days and we were able to negotiate and get it even higher. My feeling was, “Yeah, this is exactly what I expected.”’ Knoll goes on to explain that she aspires to Shonda Rhimes-level success, saying “The secret sauce is being an author who can adapt her own material. Then you’re not only looking at the money that the publisher is going to pay you, you’re looking at the money that the studio, network, whatever is going to pay you. And the royalties you’re going to make because the book is on everyone’s radar.”

Her candidness and openness about her motivations is unlike anything I have ever seen from an author, and though personally, I found it extremely interesting and refreshing, it has enraged and seemingly disgusted many.

On TwitterThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas author John Boyne called the piece “One of the most depressing author interviews [he’s] ever read,” accuses Knoll of having “no humility, no interest in writing a good book,’ and “bragging about money, movie stars and Porsches.” He ends the tweet by claiming that “Only someone with absolutely zero self-awareness could talk like this.”

At the time of writing, Boyne’s tweet has no less than 108 replies, the majority of which agree with him, saying things like “there’s a writer whose work I never need to read,” wondering how she can be a writer of fiction when she appears to have “so little empathy,” with one person simply commenting “I think she’s awful.” Of course there are those who interject to point out that Knoll was being interviewed specifically about her finances, not her inspiration or writing process, and that humility is not necessarily a prerequisite for writers, but the majority of responses are in agreement with Boyne: that Knoll is a superficial, inherently bad person, whose writing they will never go near.

Elsewhere on Twitter, the sentiment is similar. Knoll “may be a great writer but seems like a really terrible human being,” says one person, while another calls the interview “a perfect hate read.”

 

The Favorite Sister book cover and Jessica Knoll
Image Via Paperbacks Paris

 

I object to this line of thinking. People intentionally become wealthy in myriad ways. I don’t think it’s fair to vilify someone for combining their talent and business sense to do so. In my opinion, it’s snobbery and silly artistic gatekeeping to suggest that she has no empathy or is a bad person for admitting to doing that. The most irksome thing about the interview is the part wherein she mentions that upon purchasing her Porsche, the dealer looked to her husband to confirm her income. That, to me, is what people should be irritated about.

As she mentions in this interview, and speaks about in greater detail elsewhere, Knoll had a hugely traumatic experience as a teenager, which led to an eating disorder and also inspired Luckiest Girl Alive. I would argue that it makes perfect sense and is completely reasonable for someone with Knoll’s past to seek financial security, to be able to afford good therapy, to be able to afford a home. She saw an opportunity, she knew she could do it and do it right, and so she did.

I don’t think artists should get to tell other artists that the reasons they’ve created their work are wrong, especially not writers who have also made a fortune doing what Knoll does. Why is she wrong to want what they have, too? Because one is not supposed admit to wanting it? And one is just supposed to smile politely to oneself when it does happen, and never be so vulgar as to discuss it or admit that it’s an advantage or that they wanted, or God forbid expected, it to happen?

I was relieved to see that I am not the only one irritated by the general reaction to this interview. Among the responses on Twitter were many, mainly from women, who say they are ‘fascinated’ (a word used, interestingly, a number of times) by Knoll’s honesty and praise her for achieving her goals, and I am among them. I have never in my life seen a writer, much less a woman, be so frank about their financial goals and about wielding their talent and knowledge of the industry (Knoll was an editor at Cosmo and was working at Self at Condé Nast when Luckiest Girl Alive was published) in order to get where they wanted to go.

Writer Emma Flynn dismissed Boyne’s point, tweeting ‘I hate the idea that there’s something inherently noble about being a writer.’

I agree with her. It’s ridiculous to denigrate someone for not having the same, apparently vocational, motivations for writing that you deem necessary for the writing to be considered valuable or the writer to be considered legitimate. Is success supposed to be just an unlikely side effect of being a writer, one that, however pleasant it may be, we are not supposed to admit is desirable, and certainly not a motivation? As Flynn says, the idea that writing must be an ‘inherently noble’ pursuit, seems notional. Of course, most writers write for the sheer joy of it, the passion for it, the need for it, the urge. But who’s to say Knoll doesn’t do that too? She has spoken in the past of how writing Luckiest Girl Alive was incredibly cathartic for her and a way of dealing with her trauma,  she is a big reader and among her favorite books are Bright Lights Big City, The Bell Jar and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Knoll is a bonafide writer, a bestselling author, there are both film and television adaptation of her work in production and fair play to her for being as involved as possible in these projects. But even if she hadn’t otherwise discussed her love of reading and writing, and The Cut interview was only one she ever gave, I would still object to criticism of her ‘lack of humility’, or the interview being ‘a hate read.’ Knoll saw her chance, recognized her own abilities, used her position and secured for herself the success she desired. That is to be admired.

 

Featured Image Via WWD.com

 

 

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8 Writing Apps That Will Change Your Life

Jim

Via Giphy

 

Computers have changed the nature of writing due to all the help with which we are offered by dedicated writing devices. These devices allow us to power through a draft without stopping to read over and over again. Some might say the distinction between revision and composition has begun to erode entirely.

 

Many are of the opinion that the pen is still mightier than the keyboard, but for those of you who are breaking the tradition and typing out your work, here are some brilliant apps to help you create the perfect piece of prose in less time than you ever imagined. 

 

1. Scrivener

 

Scrinever

Image Via Amazon

 

Built with writers in mind, Scrivener has every tool you need to research, compose, organize, edit and finish a piece of writing, all for $45. It is a must-have for any writer or blogger looking to be more productive and organized. Cool features include the Dropbox folder that lets you sync your work between the app and your iPhone or iPad in order to continue writing on the go. A long list of keyboard shortcuts takes productivity to a new level and you can track your progress by setting word targets for your sessions or the whole manuscript itself, and the word count will always be visable for those who are keen to keep track of that.

 

 

2. Ulysses

 

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Image Via Six Colors

 

This app is free and preferable for writers seeking a minimalist interface and flexibility rather than a lot of structure and spoon-feeding. It is elegant and distraction-free, however it is only available for Mac. The interface automatically hides itself when you want to type, which makes it super easy to just dive in and start working.

 

 

3. Adobe Story CC

 

adobe

Image Via Portal Programmes

 

The bottomline with Adobe Story is that it is directed towards screenwriting. Those who not only write but produce their own work won’t find a better outlet for their creativity than this app. The online nature of Adobe Story means that you can also collaborate with other writers or reviewers of your script. It uses the AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) framework, allowing the app to be used with a standard web browser once you make an account. SmartType is one feature that will speed up your basic script elements that occur often.

 

 

4. Script Studio

 

ScriptStudio

Image Via Amazon.com

 

This is a professional writing app with an interface that will wow those who are willing to spend $200. It is also primarily a screenwriting program, but its now added in functionality for novels, too. With your money comes some pretty sexy features such as nightmode, for if your eyes are starting to dry up and want to have a late night writing session. Your own custom themes can also be created to suit whatever mood you might be in.

 

Character Spotlight is also a cool feature that lets you get to know your characters better. Within Character Spotlight you’ll find in built thought provoking questions to fill out to help you really get to know your own creation from another perspective. Some questions include “What is your character’s greatest regret?” and “Does your character have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?”

 

 

5. Storyist

 

storist

Image Via Storyist

 

Storyist comes at $60 and has a whole bunch of features that may seem unusable for some, but for screenwriters, this is a great app for story development with an excellent word processor complete with a screenwriting element. The interface is intuitive to use for creative writing and uses the Tab/Return command to format your script to Hollywood standards so you don’t have to do it manually.

 

 

6. iA Writer

 

androis

Image Via Android Central

 

At $30, this is the most minimalist of all the apps on this list with the fewest built in distractions. Like Ulysses, it is developed for writing prose as opposed to simply editing text and has a simple, elegant interface. Great for those who are looking for a minimal app who are not in need of endless features.

 

 

7. Writeroom

 

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Image Via Two Dollar Tuesday

 

Writeroom is $25, with a less-is-more approach that helps the writer focus on their work. Ideal for shorter works. It is a tool designed solely for one function. distraction free writing. The only downfall is that its too expensive for what it offers.

 

 

8. Byword

 

mac

Image Via Amazon

 

A simple, yet powerful text editor and available to buy for $11. Although inexpensive in comparison to other writing apps, it is ideal for those who publish their writing on WordPress, Medium, or other online platforms. The main audience that Byword captures are naturally bloggers and digital publishers who understand advanced HTML formatting within a simple text editor, enabling writers to write quickly, edit quickly and publish articles within the same working environment.

 

 

Featured Image Via Clckr

KAzuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro Wrote a Screenplay About a Guy Who Eats a Ghost

Kazuo Ishiguro won this year’s Nobel Prize in literature. With novels like An Artist of the Floating World and Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro’s win was much-deserved.

 

It’s also kind of surprising considering, in the 1980s, he wrote a screenplay for the BBC about a guy who eats a ghost. It was called The Gourmet and it actually sounds kind of cool. When he’s not writing about artists during World War II or doomed clones, Ishiguro apparently likes writing about obsessive foodies (a.k.a. gourmets) in London searching for unusual dishes.

 

The main character is Manley who has a “large, formidable British upper-class presence.” He goes to a London soup kitchen inside a church armed with a wok and a butterfly net. He is on the hunt. Someone alerted him to the fact that the soup kitchen has a resident ghost.

 

Having already tried the world’s strangest foods, he must try food “not of this earth.” After some waiting, a homeless person approaches him with a “friendly, cheeky face.” Manley decides that this man is the ghost, and does what he came to do. He kills him. And then eats him.

 

It turns out the man actually was the ghost. He had been murdered eighty years prior in the same church so his organs could be harvested. It’s an idea Ishiguro eventually returned to in Never Let Me Go, where the clones are produced for their organs.

 

Never Let Me go

Image Via Amazon

 

When Manley wakes up the next morning, he is extremely sick. He gets better, drives off in his Rolls Royce, and plans a trip to Iceland. As one does after eating a ghost. Even though it’s about a snobby gourmet who’s hungry for ghost flesh, Ishiguro does touch upon some of the themes that he’s become so well-known for. Though The Gourmet was never shot, it’s such a delightfully odd story, it’s not hard to imagine. Maybe with his recent Nobel nab, the BBC will have a restored interest in the screenplay. Here’s to hoping!

 

via GIPHY

 

Feature Image Via the New Republic

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7 Screenwriting Tips from Hollywood’s Top Screenwriter

Want to be a screenwriter? One of Hollywood’s most respected screen writers Aaron Sorkin has shared seven top tips, all of which can be found here

 

Aaron Sorkin, the writer behind The Social NetworkThe West WingMoneyball and most recently Molly’s Game, starring Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain, delivered his screenwriting tips ahead of the Molly’s Game premiere in Toronto on Friday.

 

Aaron Sorkin

Image Via Hollywood Reporter 

 

Included in these tips is some valuable advice from the late Carrie Fisher, who, while Sorkin was struggling with a drug addiction, phoned him out of the blue to tell him “I know you think you’re not going to be able to write as well without drugs, I promise you you’re going to write better.” She was, he says, 100% right. So, don’t do drugs kids. 

 

He also explains that a bad casting decision can hinder an entire project, and congratulated himself on the casting of Jessica Chastain, who, he says, was perfect in the role of Molly, a young woman who ran a notorious high-stakes underground poker game for actors and millionaires. 

 

Jessica Chastain in Mollys Game

Image Via GQ

 

So go on and check out all seven of his tips here, and get typing- Hollywood won’t wait! 

 

Featured Image Via Indie Film