How to Turn a Manuscript into a Screenplay by Connie Neumann (aka Connie Mann)

Happy Sunday, Katy lee here, and today I have author, Connie Mann here to share with us her exciting journey from manuscript to screenplay. So, readers, sit back and enjoy the show!

Now take it away, Connie!

“Writing a Screenplay” had been penciled in on my list of “Things I want to do someday” for quite a few years. I’d written fiction and non-fiction books, articles, devotions, blogs, but never a screenplay. Every so often an idea for one would pop into my head and I’d give some thought as to where to start. That usually entailed pages of scribbled notes on a legal pad, followed by hours of staring at a blank computer screen–with regular interruptions to pace and consume too much chocolate. After a day and a half or so, I’d give up and move on to something else. But the dream lingered, just off screen, as it were.

Then one day during a conversation with my son, Ben Klopfenstein, who works in the film industry, the screenplay idea came up again. He was directing his first feature-length film (he’d directed multiple shorter projects) and was looking for a screenplay. Did I have any stories that might work for what he had in mind?

I gulped and said I’d think about it. But the idea took hold and despite my fear of the unknown, I told him I’d give it a try.

First, I read everything I could find on how to write a screenplay. But my favorite resource, by far, was “Save The Cat” by Blake Snyder. With my manuscript in one hand and “Save the Cat” in the other, I started taking my story apart, piece by piece.

Novels and screenplays are two very different creatures and the rules and expectations differ. I had to learn a whole new way of looking at things. Here are some of the differences:

Long View vs. Condensed Pace

When you’re writing a novel, you have lots of room to roam. You can develop settings and backstory and subplots and anything else you want. In a screenplay, time is condensed. Only conversations, interactions and conflicts that move the story forward get space on the page.

Introspection vs. Action

Characters in a novel can think about things—and we the readers are privy to those thoughts. Actors can only perform actions. So if the movie-goer needs to know about Jack’s secret, 10-year feud with John, how will you show that?

Settings vs. Locations

Novel settings can change from page to page. Not so in a screenplay. Every time the story changes locations, the whole cast and crew will have to pack up and move. So you limit locations wherever possible.

Different, isn’t it? But the process was a fabulous creative challenge and I enjoyed every minute of it. Clear Slate Films agreed to get involved in the project and I was privileged to be on set during the filming (which almost NEVER happens). I got to see my story come to life, which is something I’ll never forget as long as I live. Matthew Ashford (aka Jack Deveraux from Days of our Lives) and Julia Denton(K-Ville, The Contract Killers) were amazing to watch and work with.

The whole thing has been a huge labor of love, but we’re thrilled that our romantic comedy, Catch of a Lifetime (www.catchofalifetimefilm.com) is just about ready for release. A premiere is in the works, so if you visit the Facebook Fan Page, Catch of a Lifetime, you can get all the latest news, photos and info. You can even pre-order a copy of the movie from the website. We appreciate your support more than words can say.

I’ve so enjoyed being here today and I’d love to stay in touch. Feel free to stop by my blog, www.BusyWomenBigDreams.com any time. I’ll be posting more blogs about the movie process, and also offering encouragement to fellow dreamers.

But while I’m here, I’d love to hear what you think. Have you tried to turn a manuscript into a screenplay? How did it go?

Thank you, Connie for being here today! I will admit that seeing one of my stories out of my head and up on the screen, playing out in real life, would be a dream come true!

Readers, for a seak preview of the movie, click here: www.catchofalifetimefilm.com     

For more information about Connie Mann, visit her blog page. She loves romantic suspense, and her Florida-set novel, TRAPPED! is available now.  She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not working on her next story, she’s piloting boats along Central Florida’s waterways.

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37 thoughts on “How to Turn a Manuscript into a Screenplay by Connie Neumann (aka Connie Mann)”

  1. I love the trailer, Connie. The movie looks great. I also love Matthew Ashford. I’m a big Day’s of Our Lives fan and was happy to see his return to the show last week (although I’m kind of rooting for Jennifer and Dr. Dan to stay together and I knew Jack would come back with a story about being held captive or something). Yes, DOL my guilty pleasure! I’ve even got my husband hooked. I Tevo the show and we watch it over dinner. It cracks me up when my husband says, “Okay, honey, let’s see what those crazy ladies on Day’s are going to do today.” He’s so cute!

    I hadn’t thought of doing a screenlay before, but I have to say, you’ve planted a seed. My step son is also a film maker and says that the book has to be a success before they’ll make it into a movie, so who knows. If Heaven Is For Heroes takes off, we might see it on the big screen. That would be sooo cool! Thanks for the inspiration and I’d love to know what Matthew Ashford is like.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the trailer! We’re very excited!

      So what’s Matthew Ashford like?? He’s a doll. Such a nice guy. He works incredibly hard and takes what he does very seriously, but himself, not so much. Watching him and Laney (the equally-talented and amazing Julia Denton) run lines together was awesome to watch.

  2. WOW! Screen play… how exciting…and can I just say as a long time Days fan (used to schedule my classes around it in college) Jack and Jennifer were my favorite characters! How awesome that you got to work with that actor! I’ll be on the look out for the movie! Thanks for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome. And thanks so much for stopping by! Matthew Ashford and Julia Denton–and the rest of the cast and crew–were fabulous people to work with! I enjoyed every minute.

      If you are looking for all the latest news and updates on the movie, they will always be on our FB fan page. (Or my blog)

      If you’d like, you can also pre-order a copy of the DVD on the website: http://www.catchofalifetimefilm.com. We so appreciate everyone’s support!

      Thanks so much!

  3. What a great post! I’ve always wanted to do a screenplay, but haven’t yet found the time to study the craft which is, as Connie tells us, very different from novel writing. I have an idea for a creature-feature movie with an overgrown animal that, to my knowledge, has not been done before, and I’ve always wanted to see a movie made out of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (see my comments on J’s post yesterday). Maybe I’ll try one of these in April during Script Frenzy (part of nanowrimo.org).

    1. I hope you do give writing your screenplay a try during Script Frenzy, Susannah! I did NANOWRIMO last year and it was great! My best advice: go for it. Just like a novel, it won’t get done until you make up your mind to just do it! Good luck!

  4. Thanks Connie. Fascinating post, especially the logistics and considerations of what goes into filming a screenplay (like limiting the number of scene changes to reduce location expenses).

  5. Hey, Connie. So I’ve got a question for you…you mentioned the differences between novel and movies of finding ways to convey past/backstory because viewers are not in the actors’ heads, but with the whole “show vs. tell” in novel writing thing, even authors need to get creative in revealing backstory. Did you find after you wrote the screenplay that your showing backstory came easier in your novel writing?

    1. Hi Katy, Great question. Dealing with backstory is still tough, but because a screenplay is so condensed, I’ve really learned to ask (even in my novels): Do I REALLY need this in the story? Sometimes, you don’t. And sometimes you do, but you can work it in in little snippets instead of the dreaded “backstory dump.” :) Hope that helps…

  6. Hi Connie, Thank you so much for sharing with us. I have often thought about writing a screenplay but, like you, having never done one, have zero experience. I was asked once by an editor if I was a screenwriter, so maybe my writing leans in that direction. I may have to get that book you mentioned and give it a try. Thanks again.

  7. What a great post, Connie! My stories are long on action and short on internal dialogue. I’ve had editors tell me, “We need to know what they’re thinking!” Hmmm, maybe screenwriting is right up my alley. Something to think about.

  8. I agree, Connie, Save the Cat is awesome and can be well adapted to novels. I can’t imagine going through the ordeal of making a screenplay because, as you said, the focus is so different. I’ll concentrate on getting my novel published and, as you did, put the screenplay on the shelf for a while. Good info, thanks for sharing.
    Kathye

  9. Connie,
    congratulations on seeing your dreams of writing a screenplay & actually having it become a movie! What an awesome opportunity!

    Best wishes for continued success,

    Jan Romes

  10. Hi Connie,

    Great post! The difference between novels and screenplays is much clearer. I just ordered Catch of a Lifetime and can’t wait for it to arrive.

    diane

  11. Connie, you’re living my dream! I notice when I write, it forms in my head like a movie and I record the action. I would love to try a screenplay someday. (I can dream can’t I?)

  12. I’ve been wanting to write a screenplay–have all the how-to books but have never sat down and actually done it. This was a great post and wonderful encouragement. Congrats to you!

    1. Jess–I’m so glad I was able to encourage you. Now “all” you have to do is sit down and write your own! For me, there is nothing like a deadline (even if it’s one I set myself) to get me moving. All the best!

  13. Hi Katy,
    Haven taken Michael Hauge’s screenplay workshop in New York, I think about making movies while writing. Of course the scenes change often and would raise the costs of movie making. But I think about more about how to show rather than tell, b/c movies are all show and dialogue. Right? Congratulations Connie, and Katy, thanks for guesting Connie.

    1. I’m just as excited to have her here too. :)

      So here’s another question for you,Connie…about how long did the whole process take from blank page to cut, and while filming, did you have to make changes to the script?

      1. How long did it take me to write the screenplay? If I remember right, about 3 months–but I also work two other part-time jobs, so it was squeezed in around all that pesky “real life” stuff.

        Did we make changes during the filming? Yep. But those were the director’s call. I had input, but I had told him from day one that once I gave him the screenplay, I’d take my hands off and it was his to do with as he saw fit. (Letting go is not often easy for a writer. It’s one reason writers are usually NOT allowed anywhere near a movie set.) I agreed with the changes, but even if I hadn’t, I would have let it go. He was the boss. :)

  14. Connie, I was privileged to get some peeks into your process as you converted your novel into a screenplay. What really struck me was that you were simply brave enough to give it a try, take one step at a time, and give it your best effort. Made me think I could do more than I was giving myself permission to dream about. Thanks for being an inspiring example! Can’t wait to see the film; I’ll preorder my copy!

  15. This is so cool, Connie! I have written one book that from the beginning I thought would make a cool screenplay, but “thinking” was as far as it ever went. LOL That said, I’ve taken a couple of screenwriting course simply because I think they do help novelists become better writers, especially in understanding how to structure the hero’s inner and outer journeys.

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