113,000 words in 152 days

Okay, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that, but I’ve got two really good excuses:

1) I’ve been busy scrawling away at my breakaway novel.
2) I’m getting married in… (let me check the calendar)… 7 days.

So, I’ve been a little busy.  However, In keeping that this is a professional blog, let’s focus on #1.

Over the last five months, I’ve worked nearly every day with the goal of at least 1000 words. Looks like I averaged around 740–not bad considering I drove across the country, spent two months away from home, and was busy planning a wedding.  Okay, to be fair, my fiance planned most of it.

Still! For the first time, I’m going to be a published writer. This is a certainty. Not because I’m sure I’ll woo an agent and a publishing house, but because I’m not even going to try. I’m self-publishing. I have a story that those in the biz (and people like me who want to be) call High-Concept. This means as soon as I tell you what it’s about, you’ll want to buy it. No matter that you’ve never heard of me and I have no track record; it’s that compelling. Scout’s honor.

It’s a zombie apocalypse story, I’ll say that much, but I’m not going to tell you what makes it so compelling just yet, not until the press release. Sorry.

Thinking of using this for my author picture in the back.

Instead, I can tell you what to expect from here on out. 1) Updates about the progress of the book’s editing, cover development, and release schedule. There is still much work to be done before the release. If you want to subscribe (over on the right), you won’t miss a thing.

And 2) News on the short stories I’ll be publishing as ebooks in the upcoming weeks and months as well.

But you’ll probably get neither until after the wedding.

Here we are at the start of a journey. I’m glad you can join me!

Scripts vs Novels

Disclaimer: I am not a legal professional, and nothing found on this site should be taken as legal advice.  Always consult an attorney.

I’ve already written about the differences of Screenwriting vs Prose from a writer’s perspective.  Now I’d like to touch a little on the differences between the finished products: Scripts (screenplays) and Novels (books).  Physically, here you go:

The Script: Three-hole-punched 8 1/2″ x 11″ computer printed paper, bound with two brads.
A Book: Bound pages, professionally printed, in a variety of shapes and sizes.

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As for the format?  There’s plenty of nuts and bolts books written on formatting screenplays and you can google manuscript specifications for agents or publishers (or ebook format), so if you’re looking for that, keep looking.

What I’d really like to talk about in this post is what the rights a writer keeps if they sell a script versus selling a novel.

Here’s what it boils down to: when you sell a screenplay, you are (generally) selling the whole thing.  It’s no longer yours.  Other writers can (and probably will) make changes to your story without your permission.  When you sell a novel, you’re still the copyright holder and it’s still your writing, you’ve just given the publishing house the rights to print and sell it.

As a writer in the US, you have far more rights as a novelist than as a screenwriter.  In Europe, screenwriters have more rights, but for this purpose–I’m talking only about American writers making deals with American production companies.

There are ways to keep certain rights to a screenplay, such as the extremely complicated Theatrical Separated Rights.  On the flipside, there’s also terrifying loopholes like Hollywood Accounting, where you might never even get paid.  For the most part, though, screenwriters aren’t even allowed to distribute the very scripts they wrote once they’re sold.

But as a novelist, you keep your copyright.  Even if your book is getting adapted to film–in which case you only license the material to the studio, allowing them to make the film, much like you allowed a publisher to print the book.

Really, we can chase this rabbit down the hole as far as we want, but I think if we go much further we’ll need a pack of lawyers to read the map.  So… that’s it for now.

Lesson learned: write the book first.  Sell it twice, keep the rights!

A Monet Experience

Monet Experience (noun): The process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something for the first time, or without any preconceived notion as to what might be entailed or encountered. To be a blank canvas.  I went into the movie without even seeing the trailer, it was a total Monet Experience.

“Water Lilies at the Bridge” by Claude Monet – 1890

This is the coining of the term; its first non-spoken use.  Monet, like me, often longed to see the world without any preconceived notions, prejudices, or expectation whatsoever.  To see the world for the first time, like a child, but with an adult mind with the capabilities to appreciate such a thing.

When you taste a new dish for the first time, when you read a book with no idea what it’s about, when you visit somewhere you’ve never even seen pictures of — you’re having a Monet Experience.  In the fashion of an Epicurean, I find no greater bliss than experiencing something new; no matter how small.  So when I read that Monet felt the same way, it finally gave a name to what I’d been feeling all along.

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
– Claude Monet

And to be frank: I’m not narcissistic enough to call it a “Schannep Experience”.  I like the name “Monet Experience”.  Associating a man so full of passion, genius and talent adds an element of beauty to a concept near and dear to my heart.

As both a purveyor and rabid consumer of books and movies, a Monet Experience is essential to my enjoyment.  Friends call me a “Story Purist” because I don’t like to know anything about a book or movie going into it.  The writer intends information to be revealed in a specific way, and it tickles my senses for the process to unfold in such a manner.  Spoilers, an apt name if ever one was writ, ruin that experience.

Ever watch a movie trailer, then say “Thanks for showing me the entire movie”?  This is far too commonplace, in my opinion.  Teasers do much better, but if I know I’m interested in something, I’ll skirt any conversation or exposure to that work.

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” – Claude Monet

My love of the Monet Experience was cemented by a single event.  I’ve served in the military, and during basic training we were cut off from the outside world.  After we were able to leave the gates for the first time, I went to see a movie with a few friends.  We had no idea what any of the films playing were about.  “What should we see?” we asked one another aloud.  A patron leaving said, “The Ring is a really great movie.”  We all shrugged and bought tickets.  It remains to this day one of my favorite movie-going experiences.

“So how do you pick movies and books?” you might ask.  Simple: by recommendation.  Trusted friends and critics say something is amazing and worth my time, and I check it out.  Or by reputation.  There are writers and filmmakers whom I believe produce quality art.  Once I’m a fan, I’m hooked till they lose me.

Bottom line: Sometimes you can’t avoid the hype, but I find it more pleasurable not to seek it out.  Give it a try.  Only a Monet Experience can provide the joy of unadulterated perception.

© James Schannep and jamesschannep.com, 2011-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.