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I am a restless writer of fiction, film, and music. I scripted such films as 9 and ½ Weeks, Sommersby, Impromptu (personal favorite), What Lies Beneath, and All I Wanna Do which I also directed. Both my documentaries, Marjoe and Thoth, won Academy Awards. Formerly a recording artist, I continue to write music, posting songs on my website. I live in New York with my husband James Lapine. My second novel, the paranormal thriller Jane Was Here, was published in 2011. My latest film, Learning to Drive, starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, came out in August 2015, now available on VOD, DVD, and streaming media. This blog is a paranormal memoir-in-progress, whenever I have spare time. It's a chronicle of my encounters with ghosts, family phantoms, and other forms of spirit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Finishing up from the previous blog, I offer some more differences between writing screenplays and novels.

Very few people will read your script. After friends and partners, you have your agent, manager, executives, producers. Maybe 50-60 people. If it gets produced, then actors, casting agents, designers and technicians will then read it – an average of 100 people. A lot of these people actually hate reading scripts (I know I do). So that’s your reading public.

With a published novel, you can realistically hope that far more than 100 people will read what you wrote. To a screenwriter, this is intoxicating.

You own your novel. You don’t own your script once you sell it.

A novel is quiet. In a typical screenwriter contract, you have 3 months of quiet as you write the first draft and then the noise begins: otherwise called feedback, notes or “thoughts.” Mind you, some notes actually do help the script. But more often they range from unworkable to insane.

With a novel, you can have years of quiet. This may be more solitude than some writers want. I revel in it. There will be changes tactfully requested (instead of demanded) by agent, editor and publisher, but you are still the one to decide to implement their advice or not.

When film professionals read your script, they are deciding whether to do it or not. Your story represents one, ten, fifty, in a few cases a hundred million dollars to be spent. It doesn’t matter how great your writing is, but what’s it going to cost? A page is a minute of screen time. 125 pages are too long. A producer will ask you to cut 20. A director will rewrite the opening – or the whole thing. An actress wants to improvise her dialogue in stead of saying what you wrote, or an actor wants you to make his part bigger than his co-star’s. Everybody’s got a hand in. And then if you don’t succeed in delivering what they want…

When you’re a novelist they can’t replace you with another writer.

Writing Jane Was Here I experienced a kind of autoerotic pleasure from just writing for myself. I could go on at any length, take as long as I wanted, and glory in a wealth of words, knowing there would be no crowd of people waiting to interfere.

Now comes the challenge of enticing readers. Who will spark to Jane, a reincarnation-themed paranormal-mystery-suspense-thriller? Next blog: creating the book trailer.

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