Chris Sullivan [chrissullivan85]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I never really read anything other than assignments in school, which, even then I still didn't read much. I do know for sure I like Shakespeare.
I began writing in High School during Summer School retaking English (because I rarely did homework) An assignment we had was telling any story. So I started writing... I finished it, turned it in, got an "a", then brought it home and continued it, now it's about 60 pages. I've been writing ever since.
Usually, the first people to read my stories were teachers I got along with; now, friends read the screenplays I write.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
Since I consider myself someone who has an over active imagination, I find it quite simple to write in every genre but I think my favorite genre to write for is Slap-Stick Comedy. Ex. Uneducated characters with a low understanding of logic.
(My writings aren't on the internet yet. I'm in the process of writing, editing, rewriting, and registering with the WGA, Writers Guild of America).
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Usually when I come up with a movie idea it's while I'm sitting outside having a smoke, or while I'm watching a movie and think "what if...."... then there are some scripts I came up with because it was part of a dream I had the night before.
Originally, when I started writing I would just have a plot and a few key scenes in my head, then I would just start at page one and write (without an outline). Recently I've discovered that it is a lot easier to write if I've already mapped out a full outline.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
To this day I rarely read to get inspiration to write. I mean, I'll read the occasional "Produced" or "Unproduced" screenplay just to see how people are wording and formatting the screenplays.
Mainly to get inspired I'll watch a three or four movies with the same genre I'm about to write, then I'll make a playlist on iTunes filled with music that would match the genre. Such as, Love/Break up songs for a Romantic Comedy. Metallica for Action stories.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Basic Ingredients.... I'd say Characters and Dialog. You have to have relateable characters and specific dialog to match. You can't have a "trailer-trash" character speak with perfect grammar.
Take the TV show "King of the Hill"; Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhouer are four characters cut from completely different cloths. The way they dress, talk, act, react differently in the same situations. You have to have that, Different characters and dialog to match.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Third. I find it easier to write action in a scene that way.
What well known writers do you admire most?
I could go on forever about this, so I'll just pop a few names out there... John Hughes, Joss Whedon, and James Cameron. I'm sure you could see why.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I like to put my main character (if not a few of my characters) through the range of emotions in the first thirty pages. If you can have your character be believable in sad, happy, and angry situations early on, I think the reader (or viewer) might feel more attached to the character throughout the script/movie.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I'm not much for on-the-spot talking but if I get two to five seconds to map out what I plan to say, I think I'm a pretty good story teller. (then again I've had a few years experience of training people at I job I worked at where I'd run on and on telling stories of things that have happened at the job site.)
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Honestly, I think I write because my life would be way to boring if I spent the time just sitting on my couch. That plus my brain pretty much never shuts off and I'm thinking of random movies, movie quotes, and movie ideas.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
I can see how writing could be therapy for some people, but I usually don't have any conflicts or big events in my life I could vent in a script to make me feel better...
But, I do say how a writer is feeling at the moment can absolutely influence writing. You're probably not going to want to write a depressing, loveless, horror story on Valentines Day when you're in love.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Yes and No.... A lot of feedback I've gotten is typically due to the reader not paying attention. I've gotten notes back asking for a characters motive for wanting to kill someone, in that script I have about a seven page dialog explaining motives.
Then again, you can get notes back reminding you that there's a major problem in the story, or spelling or grammar mistakes... Sometimes notes will have suggestions for a rewrite, but what I like the best in feed-back is when they say what or who they liked in the story.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Back when I finished my first two script I paid the entry fees and submitted them to contests..... Didn't do well at all. But after studying movies and reading scripts you quickly realize how many times the plot for characters change and how characters interact with people and how they change as the story progresses. Now comparing my first scripts with my current ones I'm amazed at how much my style of writing has changed. But for now I'm holding off on competitions for a while, doing a lot of reading and writing scripts, getting reviews for them then doing rewrites. It's all a process, you just have to remember two things: One, Just because you like the script, doesn't mean everyone else will. And two, (my personal favorite quote) "A writer edits more than he writes."
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Absolutely! I often ask a few people I know who are either writers or who watch movies like I do if they'll read a script, or even just a few scenes I'm not sure about, and they'll give me their thoughts, good and bad, suggestions for changes.. Just remember, Everyone can come up with multiple ideas for someone else's work, but if you're the writer it's up to you if you want to take their advice or keep what you have.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Well, for the past two years or so my New Year's Resolution was to write a feature length script in sixty days... which averages out to be around two pages a day.
I kept on schedule pretty good for most of the year... for the first year. But I've come to realize if you aren't in the mood to write, don't do it. Recently, I've noticed I have no problem writing the first thirty pages of a script but after that I have to push myself into writing some more. Which is the best thing about having an outline... it's less work for you to actually do when you're writing, you basically just have to look at the outline and fill in the gaps.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Personally, I'll have a tall glass of cold Dr. Pepper, my iTunes playlist to specifically influence the script I'm working on, put my headphones on, and turn it up loud.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I do everything on the computer now. Back in college I took a Real Estate class and was so bored every class I just took a piece of paper out and started mapping out a twelve episode sitcom. Also, I still have a cork board with index cards pinned to it mapping out the movie trilogy I'm working on... So I've done the handwritten aspect writing, but I prefer to do everything on the computer and try to print when I think the project is finished, just remember to save frequently and on either an external hard drive or some kind of memory card. (Just remember, don't have all your eggs in one basket. What if your computer crashes???? Back it up frequently)
What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on my Romantic Comedy. In the back of my mind I'm constantly thinking about a few of my other scripts I have on the "back burner". Usually, I'll be working on one script then I'll have an idea for a new script I want to write then I start working on the new one.... so yeah, I have about forty started scripts and about a dozen first/second drafters finished.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
I suggest reading them again yourself, maybe do a rewrite. I'm assuming you've improved since you started writing those old projects, then from there see what your friends say, or post them online to get reviews.
I have two or three of my first stories I haven't really shown anyone yet, after eight years or so. But I do plan on rereading them, editing.... typing, then seeing what my friends think of them.
Personally, for me, I say "Write it, finish it, or trash it." and I don't like trashing what I create.
San Diego, CA