Tips from Tish

I almost finished this post a few days ago on the Blog Direct gadget on my iGoogle page, but something happened, and I lost it all. I may have I touched the wrong key or it just refreshed and disappeared.

Not sure if I can even recall what it was about. Something about what Tish Cohen said the other night about selling one of her books ‘direct to film’. I just about fell off my chair when she said that. I had never thought about a film for my book except as a remote possibility in a book contract long after the book came out. But the reverse order got me thinking. What would it take for a book to sell directly to Hollywood?

Tish herself revealed one feature that could be your ticket to Hollywood: a unique voice. Voice trumps everything, she said. Even if your plot is weak or your characters sketchy, you can still hit a home run with a fresh voice that grabs the reader. Once you’ve found your voice, she suggests going so far as to incorporate a hint of it into your query letter. Clearly she’s a risk taker. I would calculate my risk here and choose my words and style with care. The point is don’t make your query letter too business- like.

The other way a writer could hedge her bets on Hollywood is to focus on the scenes, making them as vivid and cinematic as possible with a lot of sensual detail. What do you see? What can you smell? What sounds do you hear? How do things feel ? How do things taste? And the 6th sense? Emotional awareness. How does it make you feel? I recently reviewed a novel by Canadian filmmaker Shandi Mitchell, UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY. The reader comes away with so many images, vivid scenes begging to be transposed to the big screen. With her background, this may be what Shandi intended.


mrchristian said...

Of course in Canada it's more likely a 'made for tv' movie !

One interesting resource that has sprung up, at least here in Manitoba, is the telco's (MTS) tv channel MTS TV.

For their 'local content' requirement, instead of public access tv shows or community news segments, they have chosen to commission an ongoing series of half-hour to one hour long documentaries from local film makers.

I have been involved in a couple of history related ones and have seen a couple of others, (one on Winnipeg's streetcars, for instance).

The downside, of course, is that if you are not an MTS TV customer you can't see their video on demand commissions. My hope is that eventually will go into wider distribution - perhaps there is some moratorium on MTS' exclusivity.

It's not the best scenario but up until this time seeing a documentary on The Winnipeg Falcons or Winnipeg's Streetcars would have been pretty much impossible.

Ruth Zaryski Jackson said...

Hi Chris,
Thanks for your comments.Tish Cohen has pretty world wide circulation as I recall from her talk; not sure where the movies are being produced though. Thanks for your comment about MTS TV movies. Canadian/Manitoban content requirements not a bad thing for artists. Good luck with getting wider circulation.