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May 20, 2011

Holly Goldberg Sloan: Writing Novels vs. Writing Screenplays

Posted by jordana
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Today, author Holly Goldberg Sloan shares with us how process of publishing a book is different from writing screenplays (which she's done, and for some really awesome movies too!). Holly's book, I'LL BE THERE is about Sam Border, who wishes he could escape his unstable father...but he would never abandon his little brother, Riddle. Riddle worships his older brother. But how can they leave when there's nowhere to go? Then everything changes. Because Sam meets Emily. Read on for Holly's post!

I have written screenplays and television shows.  And they have been produced.  People have appeared on the small screen and in large theaters saying things that I made up.  Most of them, I think, did a really good job. 

I have written sentences for Will Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ted Danson in a movie called Made in America.  I scripted scenes for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew McConaughey, Adrien Brody and Danny Glover in a movie called Angels in the Outfield.  My words have come out of the mouths of Emily Osment and Majandra Delfino and Eugene Levy.  There have been scenes with Robert Downey Jr. and William Shatner.

For me, there was not much difference between the day-to-day work of writing a script and writing a novel.  You tell a story and words go onto a page.  But there is a big difference in what happens after you’re done, because there is not an army of people in front of you to process, interpret, re-write, and re-conceive what you meant.

There is your editor. Your editor guides you, like the person ahead of you in a series of dark caves, only you dug the caves.  And that means your ideas stay intact.  Your words stay your words. 

It’s satisfying.  There is no other word to describe the feeling. 

But now that the book is out, it is not the actors or the actresses or the movie studio that is standing up to field questions. (It’s important to state here that I am not shy.  Many writers put their thoughts down on paper because it is their only way to be heard.  That is not my issue.  I’m not loud, but I talk fast and I have a voice).  

So what does the author now have to say for herself at the moment when her book is coming out besides "please read I'LL BE THERE, I think you will like it"?

Here’s what I can say: I believe my book is about survival.  And forgiveness.  It is about talent.  Community.  Family.  Music.  Art.  Silence.  The power of cooking.  And Love.  

I also think you should know that I believe in coincidence, not fate.  I believe you can make good fortune, and overcome really bad luck.

I believe everything matters—the small things and the big things. 

I think that proms and weddings are fine, but life is truly about expectation, and when it comes to ceremonies, the expectations are too high.   

I think that we should all be more connected to the natural world.  If I ran the public schools I would make camping a mandatory P.E. class.  And I would require everyone who could afford it to at some point in her or his life to rescue an animal. 

Or a person.

Because what you do in life matters, to all living things.

 ---Holly Goldberg Sloan