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Question
For a few years I've focused on becoming a screenwriter. Recently,
I've considered trying my luck in book form. I understand a
screenplay is bare bones and books are only descriptive through
the written word. So, any advice or warning as to my journey
into the book world? Any pitfalls of novice writers? Any "How to"
books you'd suggest? Thanks! Jeremy

Answer
Jeremy:

Ay carumba...  Screenplays and novels are entirely different animals.  Now, if you're a decent screenwriter, you're going to have a leg up on a novice novelist, because your command of dialogue will almost certainly be more refined (the true strength of screenwriting).  Also, you'll probably understand the whole concept of a story arc better than a beginning novelist.

But aside from those things, you're in all new waters.  Everything that you'd normally leave up to a director in a screenplay is now yours to deal with.  And there's an awful lot of it.

Warnings?  Hell, yeah.  Getting a novel published (when you're an unknown) is about as easy as catching a salmon in a swimming pool.  Publishers today look at one thing and one thing only: the bottom line.  They'll consider a book by a new writer for publication if, and only if, they're fairly certain they can turn a profit with it.  That means, it needs to be short, and it needs to have blindingly obvious market potential on a broad scale.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but only a little.  It's a nasty, nasty business.

How-To books?  Absolutely.  Go to any decent-sized bookstore and buy yourself at least half a dozen different ones.  Join the Writers Digest Book Club... their selection is great.  I can't narrow it down to just one or two for you: there are so many out there, many of which are focused on different aspects of writing.  Flip through the books and you'll be able to tell if they're addressing your personal needs.  Some you'll dismiss, others will strike you as being good choices.  I have literally dozens of books on writing (but then, I teach it, so I kinda need 'em).  Sure, some are better than others, but that's a subjective thing.  Only you can tell what you really need from a book.

Do not under any circumstances expect that you'll have better luck with books than scripts.  And honestly, unless you really feel driven to write books... well, I wouldn't recommend doing it for the potential income, let's just say that.

Hope that didn't depress you too much.

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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