Angela Burchett is an international award-winning screenwriter and also a film producer. 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. Angela, who sometimes uses the pseudonym Angela E. Gabriel, lives in the Southeast with her pet ducks, horses, her husband and his chickens. To learn more, follow her on Twitter.
Let the conversation begin!
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 has 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 what happens to your characters 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?
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.
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.