Dave Trottier of KeepWriting.com is a produced screenwriter, award-winning teacher, top-selling author, and distinguished script consultant. He’s helped hundreds of writers break into the business, and was kind enough to give us little insight into his life as screenwriting pundit.
Q: How did you first get involved with screenwriting?
Dave: As a young adult, I did an amateur film just for fun to pull some young adults together into a cohesive group, and we won an amateur film festival. All told, we had about 40 people involved.
Q: What’s it like eating and breathing screenwriting everyday? Do you ever get burnt out?
Dave: Ya gotta love it. It feels good to be creating. The burnt out part is with all the other stuff that must be done other than the screenwriting. With many writers, this is making a living until the screenwriting can pay for itself. Of course, with me, it’s not just screenwriting that is fun, but also book writing, curriculum writing, article writing, and script analysis.
Q: What can a writer expect at your Screenwriter’s Sundance Retreat (pictured left):
Dave: A nurturing atmosphere in which to create and a great deal of instruction aimed at revising your script. Since it is limited to 15 writers, it’s “the little writing conference that could.” There is a great deal of interaction with other writers. We’re sold out for 2016, but you can get on a waiting list.
Q: What are you personally itching to write next as a screenwriter?
Dave: A religious drama (not biblical, but contemporary) and a family-split-apart-coming-together script. There are several others…
Q) What advice would you give someone about to put pen to paper on their first screenplay?
* Relax and have fun! Writing should be fun. If you don’t like the writing part, then it’s not for you.
* Read a couple of books, take a class, and start writing simultaneously. It’s imperative that you write while you are learning. Don’t think that you have to learn everything before you start writing. You will do better at both if you do both concurrently. Writers write.
* Write that first script from your passion. It is likely to be somewhat autobiographical. Go ahead and write it without regard to market. This inner stuff needs to get out to clear the creative pipes for more good things to emerge.
* Understand that the writing business is a business, and that you will spend nearly as much time selling as you will writing.
* Don’t write something you’ve seen in another movie unless you can give it a fresh twist. I already know before you start writing that the first scene is a dream, the love interest will eventually be kidnapped, and that the hero is “ruggedly handsome.”
* Think small. Everyone is trying to break in with a blockbuster. Consider breaking in with a “smaller” picture that has many more potential buyers. This is after you’ve written your first script. Good luck and keep writing!