MFH An Interview with Dana, Screenplay and Novel Writing

January 22, 2008 at 4:09 pm 17 comments

Finally, it’s my turn to host Dana Fredsti, author of Murder For Hire, The Peruvian Pigeon.  You didn’t actually think I’d let somebody guest post and not get my two cents in did you?   This is part 2 of an interview by Dani Greer.   If this is your first stop on the tour, go back and see what you’ve missed!  Click here for Part One of Dana’s interview, Click here to read an excerpt from the book.  Don’t forget to leave a comment while you’re there so you can get your name in the hat for one of the three FREE copies of the book Dana will be giving away at the end of the tour. 

Enough from me, fetch yourself a big cup of tea, coffee, whatever, and meet Dana Fredsti:

What about writing screenplays? dana.jpg Do you do much of that?
Over the last 10-15 years, I’ve written or co-written over a half dozen screenplays, two of which have been produced, three optioned, and one currently optioned.  I haven’t made a lot of money from screenwriting (or any writing), but I enjoy it, I’ve met some interesting people and gotten to work with directors and actors I admire, and there’s always the possibility one day I WILL get the big pay-off.  Or at least enough to pay off my credit cards.  

It’s a little harder to be taken seriously by agents and producers when you don’t live in Los Angeles, but not impossible.  Since I moved up here to SF, I’ve written a script for a first time director; done two sets of rewrites on WHERE THE CHILL WAITS (co-written with T. Chris Martindale, who wrote the novel of the same name on which the script is based), which is the script currently in option with Grateful Productions (name-dropping here – one of the partners, Mark Mathis, is the producer of BRICK); and as soon as I finish my posts for this blog tour, I’m diving into my next novel!  
What made you decide to write a novel anyway?
Well, without going into TOO much detail and giving away the contents of my post for Pointless-Drivel, it was for the sake of literary vengeance.  Someone needed to die and writing about it seemed a more productive way of doing it than committing murder and going to jail.  

How different was it from writing a screenplay?

It takes longer!  So much more detail is needed in a novel.  Screenplays, you want to keep the description to a minimum, just enough to give the reader a clear picture so he/she can follow the story.  Dialogue is equally important in both in terms of keeping it natural and believable, but you can get away with more in novel writing ‘cause generally the dialogue’s not going to be read aloud.  Unless you do a book on tape and boy, do I pity some of the readers doing those when they get the clunky dialogue.  If you have a bad script and a good actor, the bad script generally comes out on top.  Although I’ve seen and heard some valiant efforts! 

You also have more leeway in a novel in terms of structure, although the three-act structure of a screenplay isn’t a bad template to follow when writing genre fiction.  I’m not saying it’s necessary, mind you, just that it can help shape the story structure more clearly for the writer.  That all being said, I can’t outline for shit.   The one time I outlined a project was, ironically enough, MURDER FOR HIRE, and the character that was supposed to be the murderer refused to cooperate.  I think the subsequent reshuffling created more red herrings, so I can’t really complain. 

In other words, what is your novel-writing process?

Oh dear.  That’s not an easy question to answer.  I’ve only finished one (MFH) and the original draft was actually co-written with Maureen and we alternated chapters and character POVs (Connie and Daphne).   As with most of our writing project, we wrote the first draft very quickly (I think it was three months) and all of it was written in longhand.  After the first round of rejections, Maureen decided she didn’t want to write on it any more, so I took it over.  Or, more accurately, I put it in a box and forgot about it for a few years.  I did a total overhaul on it, changed the narrative to Connie’s POV for the whole book, changed character relations, added a few characters and did many rewrites based on feedback from potential agents and publishers.   The rewrites were a lot harder and took much more time than that first draft. 

I’ve got several works in progress, one that I started several years ago when I was working at home.  I used to write two hours every day, usually at the same time (9am-11am was my chosen time slot) because if I didn’t make myself keep to the schedule, I would find every excuse in the world not to write.   I had a very tough time after moving from L.A. to San Francisco – too many life changes to assimilate quickly or easily, so the second novel got put aside in favor of easier projects, including my blog.   Several months ago– okay, this sounds hokey, but it’s true – I started taking yoga twice a week and doing some of the breathing exercises and poses at home – and my focus and creative energy have improved radically.   Anyway, I’ll give you an update on my novel writing process in…say, a month? 


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Somethin’ To Talk About Same Name

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nessa  |  January 22, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Great interview. I’m taking up yoga; D

  • 2. rel  |  January 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Dana,
    Thanks for sharing your ideas and practical tips. It’s so much more when info comes from the doers!

  • 3. Carol  |  January 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    That’s the best reason I’ve ever heard for writing a book! lol I can’t wait to read Murder For Hire!

  • 4. Mr. Fabulous  |  January 22, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Hee hee. “Someone needed to die”

  • 5. Dani  |  January 22, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    The added treat with this book is that the writing is really good… it just pulls you along. The descriptions are wonderful! I like a book that makes me feel like I’m there with the characters. And want to meet up with them again. Soon. Hurry up and write the sequel! LOL.

  • 6. Zhadi  |  January 22, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Nessa, I can’t recommend yoga highly enough! And I used to make fun of it…serves me right, I used to make fun of surfers too and now I love to surf!

    Rel, thanks for stopping by and I hope my tips are usefull1

    Carol, it was at least enough motivation to get the first draft written…although I’m not sure it’d be good motivation for a children’s book, say! 🙂

    Mr. Fab… I knew you’d like that.

    Dani, I’m working on it! Now that I’m done with my posts, it’s all about the books!

  • 7. Mzogg  |  January 22, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Great interview, Dana. It’s really inspriational to aspiring writers, and a testament to stick-to-itiveness. The book is a blast to read, too!

  • 8. Mzogg  |  January 22, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Great interview, Dana. It’s really inspriational to aspiring writers, and a testament to stick-to-itiveness. The book is a blast to read, too!

  • 9. Bill  |  January 23, 2008 at 8:46 am

    WOW — when do you find time for life? It’s great to see someone really excited about writing — keep it up!

  • 10. zhadi  |  January 23, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Thanks, Mzogg! Actually thank you twice! 🙂

    Bill…writing IS life! heh. Now someone slap me for that pompous statement…

  • 11. otherlisa  |  January 23, 2008 at 11:42 am

    So do any of your upcoming works feature big cats?

  • 12. John Linna  |  January 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    I love a good mystery. I’m glad the character wouldn’t cooperate.

  • 13. Gwyn Ramsey  |  January 24, 2008 at 5:12 am

    A great interview, Dani and thanks Kay for bringing it to us. I read the first part about Dana and enjoyed it immensely. This second part ties into the first, with a little more insight into her lifestyle. I understand Yoga, good exercise for the body and mind. Thank you again.

  • 14. zhadi  |  January 24, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Other Lisa, i do have a mystery outline sitting around that has big cats…just not an MFH one!

    John, I was glad in the long run the character didn’t cooperate either! I think it made a better book!

    Gwyn, gotta love the yoga! I’m so glad you enoed the interviews!

  • 15. Tattoo McGraw  |  January 24, 2008 at 9:25 am

    You did a screenplay for WHERE THE CHILL WAITS? I loved that book – very creepy and I always thought it would make a great movie. Any word on when that will become a movie? Thanks again for the interview, Dana; it ‘s fun AND informative. it’s very cool to get the behind-the-scenes story behind a book you’ve enjoyed.

  • 16. Diesel  |  January 24, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Very interesting interview. Great job, Kat, and congrats to Dana!

  • 17. Zhadi  |  January 24, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Tattoo, what a strange coincidence that you’ve read that book. It’s sadly out of print right now – if you can score a copy used, pick it up! It WILL be famous one day. BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! The producers are currently doing the investor courtship dance. I’ll keep you all posted on my blog. Glad you liked the post!

    Diesel, thank you! I need to sign up for Stumble Upon so I can leave a comment on your blog – the poem to distinguish hobbits from boyscouts had me rolling…


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The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. (Robert Benchley)

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