A Novel is Not a Screenplay

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To assist the modification from page to screen by meeting the market half-way, writers are chasing the more lucrative side of wordsmithing by hammering out books which have the actions, expressions and dialogue of movie characters.

If you are dreaming of seeing your work as a major motion picture, professional screenwriters can adapt existing books, hence the words ‘based on’ when you view a book-to-movie deal.

Read on for my thoughts on the situation…

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Good news for the future of the film industry but what about the book industry?

Should a writer write a novel similar to a filmscript?  I guess if you are determined enough you can learn, but what are you sacrificing along the way?  Formatting is important; not too much, not too little.  Your characters will be noticeably shallower, the scenery will be sketchy and the action will be like every TV series you have ever watched.

Bend to a market whim?  What makes the difference is being different!  With or without a movie contract, if you write in a hybrid format, your novel has less chance of standing amongst the notables of your decade.  I’ve read several amalgams in the last month.  Believe me, it shows.

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In my opinion, there is a market for the TV-ready book/screen blend of writing but it is light-weight and not the same as solid, descriptive, memorable words which feed a book reader’s imagination.

And herein lies the problem.  There are eager new readers just the same as in the past, but now they are looking for ‘movie action’ because they have grown up with on-demand screens.  Substance is not as favourable, skimming is the name of the game.

Again, I say this is a disservice to the reader as well as the book industry.

It’s a long haul and immediate gain for the primary writer is unlikely.  Say a director/producer likes your work, every page you have written means extra money is needed in production and, as we know, the financial aspect rules.  Gone are the days of blockbuster world success—think LOTR or J K Rowling’s Harry Potter.

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Durability is the name of the game.  You can find countless info and advice on writing a screenplay or TV script and if you want to do it you will—bearing in mind that any formula has restrictions, your manuscript will not resemble the finished product.

Look closely at Michael Connelly and other writers who have made the transition, in particular their previous jobs.  They will have ‘connections’, they will move house ‘to be closer to their work’, they will have ‘legal advice’, an abundance of ‘good luck’, an ‘understanding family’ and other clichés but not the words ‘smooth sailing’.

Write with your heart, write something strong and original, write a standalone which shines with your own unique qualities.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Winners Society of Women Writers and Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition 2019

Congratulations to the successful writers listed below.  I am still dazed at my accomplishment, a double dip! The two short stories I submitted have been close to my heart for some time and it is truly wonderful to have them recognised.

The Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is Australia-wide and I am the only member of Society of Women Writers Queensland to win honours this year.  Such a privilege!


 

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Prizes:

1st Prize:  ‘Baby’ by Jean Flynn (Victoria)

2nd Prize:  ‘Tram 86’ by Melanie Persson (Western Australia)

3rd Prize:  ‘Remnants of Miriam’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)

Three Highly Commended:

‘One Hundred Year Old Feet’ by Margaret Ogilvie (South Australia)

‘Mero in the Library’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)

‘Not Everything is Cut & Dry’ by Maree Gallop (New South Wales)

Three Commended:

‘Portraits’ by Megan Hippler (Queensland)

‘The Lies of Love’ by Jo Mularczyk (New South Wales)

‘The Birthday Present’ by Lynne Geary (Victoria)

 

(Award certificates below)


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The competition judge, Lauren Daniels, is director of the Brisbane Writers Workshop.  Lauren is a qualified editor, author, mentor and trainer of professionals, academics, writers and editors.


 

I would like to thank the President and Committee of  Society of Women Writers Queensland Inc and acknowledge author Estelle Pinney for her ongoing encouragement via this competition.  It is a morale boost to have my work recognised and financially rewarded.

In the spirit of giving, I have donated my prize money back to the Society.  It may help a new member, or go towards a workshop at Bribie Island Writers Retreat, or perhaps an event with cake!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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Society of Women Writers Qld Inc

Not So Secret Society of Women Writers

I’ve been asked if I belong to a writers group.  After reaching saturation point with courses and workshops, I decided to get serious and join a writers group.  Currently I am a member of two organisations, Girl and Duck.com and The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc.  One real and one virtual, both offering the interaction and motivation I crave.

I also belong to two book clubs, one leaning towards the literary and the other crime, but that’s a whole new blog post.  Today my information flow is about—

Society of Women Writers Qld IncThe Society of Women Writers Qld Inc (SWWQ) which provides an invaluable support network for women writers.  Members share comments, feedback, achievements and encouragement, or listen to guest speakers at monthly meetings.

The Beginning

In 1925 the Imperial Press Conference Sydney hosted a conference for Visiting Writers and Journalists from the United Kingdom.  At that time women were excluded from the all-male journalists’ club.  This led to the wives of the delegates and the invited female delegates forming their own group which became The Society of Women Writers.  Thus (Dame) Mary Gilmore, Pattie Fotheringham, Mary Liddell and Isobel Gullett became the four Vice Presidents.  Zara Aronson was Honorary Secretary; Agnes Mowie and Blanche d’Alpuget were Honorary Treasurers.  Abigail Clancy was one of the founding committee’s fifteen members.  In 1982 The Society of Women Writers Queensland was incorporated and Mocco Wollert became their first State President.  Di Hill is the current State President.

Postal Magazines

In 1975 Bridget Godbold felt inspired to start her own group of writers in Queensland.  While in Sydney for the Society of Women Writer’s Fiftieth Commemoration, she was asked by their Federal Executive to produce a Queensland postal magazine, based on the success of a Victorian experiment called MURU.

Bridget, with four women from Townsville, Boonah, Kingaroy and Burleigh Heads, created MORIALTA.  This Aboriginal word means ‘everflowing’ and epitomised their motto to Keep Thoughts Everflowing into Creative Writing.  The first edition of MORIALTA was produced in 1976.

Postal magazines are ideal for isolated writers or those who find it difficult to attend meetings.  An electronic newsletter is also available.

The Alice Award

Every two years, since 1978, the Society shares the privilege with other States and awards a non-acquisitive bronze statuette, The Alice, to an Australian woman writer who has made a significant contribution to Australian Literature.  Well-known past recipients include, among many others, Nancy Cato, Ruth Park, Kate Grenville, Margaret Scott, Dame Judith Wright, Dame Mary Durack, Jill Shearer, Christobel Mattingley, Susanna des Vries, Dr Claire Wright and Sally Odgers.

Ring of Bright Water

Bribie Island Jetty at Bongaree
Bribie Island

SWWQ’s newsletter Ring of Bright Water is compiled monthly and sent to members either electronically (preferred) or via Australia Post, keeping members updated on upcoming events, competitions, publishing opportunities, members achievements, writing and more.

Writers Retreat

The Society organises an annual retreat, held in October on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane.  Here writers can dedicate quality time to their works-in-progress; join structured workshops; begin new work; discuss writers, writing and books and generally share good times with like-minded people.

Competitions

Competitions for Short Story, Article and Poetry categories are held each year for members and the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is held annually and is open to Australian women writers over the age of 18.

The Society publishes anthologies of members work occasionally and supports many other literary events in Queensland.  SWWQ is affiliated with Society of Women Writers in WA, VIC, NSW, TAS.

For further information please contact the Secretary
secretary@womenwritersqld.org.au
or visit their website http://womenwritersqld.org.au

My Journey

I have entered two short stories in the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition which closes Wednesday 31 July 2019.  At the moment, I am reading The Rose and The Thorn written by member Indrani Ganguly.  After attending a meeting with guest speaker Virginia Miranda, author of Flash Fiction Volume One, I enjoyed the writing exercise she set with picture prompts and I’m all fired up on the joys of flash fiction.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward 

The Rose and The Thorn by Indrani Ganguly 2019 01Flash Fiction Virginia Miranda Volume One

Author or Businesswoman? The Story Behind Girl and Duck

Real world experience and advice from a published author with dedication, sincerity and passion for sharing her craft.
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Who is this wonder woman? Read on…

girl and duck

This week at girl and duck, we opened The Scribbles Academy. It’s been super exciting and lots of people have jumped on board.

Thank you!!!! I know you’re going to love your Scribbly experience!

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But how did this all begin?

What’s the real story behind girl and duck?

I wrote about this a couple of years back. But, in those early days, I was more interested in talking about the community. How passionate it was and how it seemed to sprout from nowhere.

More time has passed and now I want to go deeper. I want you, dear reader, to know exactly how I began my online business.

How and why I started it. And who was there to help me.

Ding Ding Ding! Multiple Income Streams!

Back in 2011, it occurred to me that I might NEVER make a liveable income from writing. No matter how many books…

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Why do we care so much about shortlists? And I am on one!

I am honoured to be on the Shortlist in such esteemed company.
Here’s Jen Storer telling us all about shortlists… Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Someone recently asked, what’s the big deal about a shortlist?
 
What’s the big deal?
 
A shortlist groups together the best!
 
 It acknowledges the most accomplished of a long and always healthy collection of entries.
 
It’s also how we make competitions like the Scribbles Creative Writing Awards, manageable — both for the judges and for the competitors.
 
Imagine if we only gave out two prizes, two ‘nods’, per category. Judges would tear out their hair. Creators would feel jaded and demoralised. And rightly so!
 

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A shortlist gives more people a chance to shine. It spreads the love a little further.
 
Yes, indeedy. To be on a shortlist is a great honour. And a great thrill.
 
Not only can it boost us emotionally, psychologically and creatively, it can also boost our career.
 
Publishers and agents care about shortlists. Funding bodies care about…

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