Daniel Betts, Screenplay Semi-Finalist, LISP 2nd Quarter 2020
- Can you please tell us about your daily life?
In my day job I work as a freelance designer and animator which I’m lucky enough to enjoy and it gives me flexibility to take time off when I want to concentrate on my writing.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I started to write about 5 years ago. I become mildly obsessed with story structure how films are put together. I read all the screenwriting books searching for a silver bullet for the perfect story… never did find one funnily enough. On a normal day, when I’m working, I’ll try to get in at least 2 hours of writing in before I start work every day. I love having a dedicated time to write even if I’m busy with work.
Being a semi-finalist in the LISP is actually the first accolade that I've picked up - thank you! I’ve just recently finished a few of scripts so hopefully I’ll have more to say on this soon!
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
Warm and somewhat tingly. It's a fantastic feeling and the best encouragement you can get. There's always more drafts to do and more stories to chase down so it just gives you that all important impetus to keep going.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Screenplay?
Finishing that 1st draft is always a struggle. I always liken it doing a hill start in an old crap car. There's no momentum. Everything is straining and protesting and you just feel like you're going nowhere (maybe I'm doing it wrong?) but perseverance is always rewarded and it's a great feeling when you finish that ugly bloated first pass at a script. It get’s so much easier after that. Learning to let go of ideas that don't serve your story is an important lesson that’s taken me a while to learn. Letting go of that funny line or a twist that you love but you know, deep down doesn't belong in this particular script. I love getting the characters to a point where there are fully formed and they almost start to write themselves and do things that surprise you.
- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected screenplay? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
I was struggling with a story that wasn’t working so I stripped it right back and this kinda grew from that. I really focused on a particular character flaw - someone who’s a gossip - and used that as the engine to drive the story. It came together fairly quickly after that. Whenever I got stuck I took it back to the flaw and thought ‘How do I hold a mirror up to that character and show them the consequences of their flaw?’
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short screenplay?
Know your ending before you start. Be ruthless with your editing.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
It’s a great way to get recognition and motivation. Most writers toil away by themselves so it’s a great way to get those stories off those hard drives and out into the world.
-Lastly, do you recommend the short story and Flash Fiction writers to give it a go on screenplay writing and LISP?
Absolutely. It's wonderful to have my work recognised and I'm very appreciative of LISP.