Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Ones That Didn't Make It

Before I tried novels, I spent some time writing film scripts, video ideas, and TV show series concepts.

I wrote three scripts. The first one was called Best Shot and was the story of a woman married to a charismatic professor, who tries to get out of his shadow by pursuing the kitschy craft of bread dough sculpture. I didn’t realize it was a comedy until I went through some meeting with a producer and she called it a romantic comedy. Unfortunately after a couple of meetings, it fell through the cracks as the saying goes. An agent who specialized in movie and TV writers wanted to represent me and use the script as a sample to get me work in TV which would have meant working at a studio, but my son was small then and I didn’t want to be an absentee mom and turned her down.

The second script was called Radio Motown and followed the adventures of a DJ and his listeners on his last night on the air. A lot of the action was tied into songs and it was sort of a music video - movie. I was paid for it, but they ended up using another concept for the project.

The last one was called Principal for a Day and was the story of what happens when a kid is principal for a day and everything goes wrong. Imagine (Ron Howard’s company) was interested in it. Most production companies buy scripts and then decide later if they’ll actually use them, Imagine only bought things they were going to green light. My script went all the way to the top and it was either my script or John Grisham’s The Chamber. Guess who they went with?

I wrote treatments for a woman’s self defense video called Don’t Mess With Me, a kids’ program that would promote reading called Kids’ Zone, a cartoon series called Squirrels in Space, a cooking with the stars show (long before there was a Food Network), and some others probably best forgotten. They all went through various stages of development, but not all the way into being made.

It wasn’t all just rejection. Interspersed with everything, I wrote some newspaper and magazine pieces which were published. I also wrote some short stories that were published in Woman’s World. Woman’s Day published an opinion piece. Though not without a certain amount of anguish. When they bought it, an editor called me and was all excited about publishing it, though told me it might not run for a year. The editor left the magazine and the piece never ran. Several years later, I queried Woman Day on another idea and mentioned the piece. They didn’t take my query, but ended up publishing the opinion piece. I only found out by chance when I happened to look at the magazine and see it.

I wrote two romance novels. The first one was a story in a story. I thought it was such a unique idea, which I now lol over. I got a very nice full page letter from someone at Harlequin who apologized for rejecting it so close to Christmas. She clued me in that the story within a story thing was quite as fresh as I’d thought. Now I realize the letter was more or less a rejection with promise, like I could have rewritten it and resubmitted it, but I just saw it as rejection and threw the manuscript in the corner. I don’t remember exactly what it was about except there was a TV detective named Jake Blake.

The other romance novel had several titles. I think the last was Marry Me, Marry Me....Temporarily. It was about a marriage of convenience. A couple who didn’t really like each other had to get married to qualify as writers on a soap opera that was only hiring married writing teams. Things got sticky when the producer got suspicious of them and they had to move together. Of course, they ended up falling madly in love with each other. I suppose if I was writing it now, they’d be contestants on some reality show. That manuscript spent a lot of time on editors desks, but in the end went nowhere. But I had a lot of fun writing it.

The first mystery I wrote was called Dead Men Don’t Diet and had many of the characters that ended up in the crochet series. My agent couldn’t sell it because it didn’t have a hook, which now seems ironic since the crochet series sold because it was about a hook.


Terri Thayer said...

I had no idea you did TV scripts, Betty. Fascinating!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Love your versatility, Betty. And you didn't even mention your young adult fiction--Blue Schwartz!

Camille Minichino said...

All preparation for your current success, Betty. I thought you started with scripts and I'm glad now to have the whole story!

Betty Hechtman said...

Yes, Terri, I did try script writing. Writing novels is much more sastisfying.

Linda, when I looked over my post I realized that I did write pretty much all over the place.

Camille, now is the very best part. There is nothing like holding a copy of a book with your own name on it.

Betty Hechtman said...

I can't believe I forgot Monty, Monty, Monty, which was the story part of a picture book about a Scottish terrier with an attitude (like there are any other kind).

I got some interest, but then a pass. Hmm. Maybe Monty could still find a home at a publisher.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Monty sounds adorable, Betty--and therefore publishable!

Kathy Bennett said...

Interesting to see how writers start their careers. We all have such different paths.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, Monty is adorable if I say so myself. I actually teared up when I wrote the end of the story. I will try to find a home for the book.

Kathy, you are right, we all do take different paths.