Meet International Award-Winning Screenwriter Angela Burchett
Angela Burchett is an international award-winning screenwriter and also a film producer. To date, she has written, co-written or adapted over 10 films. Her workshops for authors range from high school level to adult. Recently taking off her film hat, she is shopping one novel and has begun the first in a five-book Christian suspense series. This “Fruits of the Spirit,” series’ main character, Kasia MacQuarrie, draws her name from an online text-based game the author has played for thirteen years. Angela, who sometimes uses the pseudonym Angela E. Gabriel, lives in the Southeast with her pet ducks, horses, her husband and his chickens.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind when writing?
Know your market! Ask yourself who will read your book, who is the target audience? Writing is part creativity and part business savvy, so always keep in mind that you will need to know how to market yourself and your work. If you are going to pitch your new urban fantasy novel, you cannot simply throw it to an agency as a story for EVERYONE and they will ALL LOVE IT! Know that it is intended for “Native American females ages 14-18” or “young adults 18-28.” If you know who they can market to, then you can answer this in your query/proposal. Knowing your demographic (your audience), will help you keep your story appropriate to them as you write, as if you are verbally telling your story directly to them. (Also, I have to add my pet peeve… please do not rely solely on spell check! Buy a great dictionary and keep it with you.)
Do you always know how a story’s going to end?
For the most part, yes. Sometimes the characters will dictate a surprise close to the end, if fiction. A lot of screenwriting can change on the fly, so while I always have an idea, I leave myself loose for changes.
Or at least, whether your main character/s have a happy or tragic ending?
Indeed. I knew I wanted Kasia to struggle in the initial books of this series, so not every book will end happily for her. As her story arcs, some tragedy remains, however, she does end up satisfied in her heart. In my first novel I knew before I began writing that only three characters would actually live.
Do you know and think about what happens to them/him/her after the last page ends?
With screenwriting, no. Given that it is a process in which the characters are filled by an actor in due course, I know they and their director will take the character on their path. If I kept ‘babysitting’ the script, I could never let go. Screenwriting means write the best film you can, and trust the production team to do their jobs. With fiction, I sometimes miss a character so much that I will cross him/her over into another book or short story. I have a cross-over already with the Christian Rayburn character.
Does something different inspire you to write every story, or is it sometimes the same thing?
They all have different sources. Every single one of them.
What are your favorite scenes to write? (Mushy gushy love stuff, action, threats, villain’s perspective, etc.)
My favorite scenes to write are action and dialogue with screenwriting. Comedy in that venue is harder. Fiction and short story writing give me much more excitement in some ways because I do like to set up an atmosphere. I like writing high action/suspense/thrilling scenes that move the story forward.
When writing, is it traditional to be cautious? Or is it best to write exactly what is on the heart and revise it as seen fit after it is all on paper?
If you are writing for your market, write. Write, write, write. Put it aside and do not look at it for a while, then pick it back up and revise, edit for content, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and story. Know that if you are writing for film, you will have to revise often. In my opinion, if you spend too much time being cautious, you may lose the initial story altogether.
Do you develop your characters or your plot lines first?
Screenwriting is usually based off plot lines. I have had many short stories and one novel based solely from characters.
Which one is a better base to build a story off of?
To me, it depends on your gut reaction. I may drive by someone who looks totally interesting, and then five minutes later I am dictating into my digital recorder a story about them and anything can evolve from that point. When approached for a film, there is usually a story in mind and I end up creating characters to help the movement or content.
Is it better to edit your own work and turn in a proposal then or would it be wise to seek the edits of a trusted advisor before submitting a proposal?
I read in a blog recently that to be able to write as an artist, one must remember how to craft a story. With this wisdom in mind, you need to write, re-write, and prepare to edit. A trusted advisor (preferably NOT a family member), who is in the field and has the time to read at least the first three chapters (what an agent will see), is wise. They may suggest edits. Mainly, be prepared when writing, proposing, and even during the book publishing process, to trust editors. They do know what they are doing, and if you are having problems letting anything change, then they may flag you as someone who may cause trouble later. Write a good story. Craft a good story. Be flexible for editing. With every submission, be certain it is an example of your best work. Write on!
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