On Writing

SATAN helped me do it …

You’ve written a screenplay and pitched it to the world. Incredibly, all have taken a pass. But it’s a great story that deserves to be told. Somewhere. Do not despair. You are one lucky writer … a prime candidate … destined to meet SATAN.

Religious denominations aside, SATAN stands for Screenplay Adapted To A Novella. Countless Oscar movies have been adapted from novels. It’s time to spin Oscar and breathe life into that screenplay that has reached the depths of your despair.

Having recently completed two successful “conversions”, I found similarities in the process and report now on how you too can make SATAN work for you. There is a method to the madness. The Six Sins then — so there’s no confusion — needed to play the game.

It’s Okay to Read …

The only people who read scripts are Hollywood, Bollywood and Elijah Wood. The rest of the world reads books.

Unplug The Slug Line …

Plains of white space will disappear as you hack and slash slug lines, pausing only to make the Nebraska corn field more than just the “EXT — NEBRASKA CORN FIELD — DAY” it once was. The husks, combines and Stephen King scarecrow now beckon for you to set the mood and tone.

Behold The Voice …

Remember that little voice in your head you were holding back as you conveyed the character’s thoughts only through action and dialogue?  It’s time to release this hound … to corral your thoughts and provide the much-needed narrative string through the story.

The Bat Out of Hell …

You will quickly find that your screenplay by nature moves incredibly fast. You will know when to ease off the gas pedal to let the reader breathe. Just pretend you’re driving through a school zone every five pages. Slow down. Then again, comedy writers have a lead foot.

Weight Watchers Beware …

Where your screenplay was once a lean, sleek animal able to leap 90 pages in a single bound, you now need to add meat to the bone. How much meat? I hear the echo already … a story is as long as it needs to be. If you’re looking for a 300-page novel, you’ll need more than a week or two with SATAN. In that case, you’ll be heading back to your outline with major renovations to the story’s soul. SATAN promises a much quicker turnaround.

For the two novellas (Forever We Play and Screwball) I adapted from screenplays, I found that I added 6,000 and 4,000 words respectively to their already existing lengths of about 19,000 words each. Thus, the ‘N’ in SATAN stands for Novella.

Saving Grace …

Lo and behold. When you’re done, at the very least you have a novella you may peddle as an ebook on Amazon. You’ve put an end to that other little voice harping in your head, “Nobody reads screenplays.” It will now be saying, “Ching, ching, revenue stream.”

Your story can now be heard. Thank you, SATAN.


By David Belisle

I'm a novelist and screenwriter in search of the Great Guffaw. It's kind of like getting hit with a bucket of Gatorade. It's a good time that sticks with you.

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