Screenwriter Coach Gives Valuable “Insider” Knowledge

by Taylor Altier

Sometimes it takes a mythologist in a toga to make someone into a writer.

At least that’s how it happened for Dr. Marilyn Horowitz, who is known for dusting off tossed-aside scripts in writers’ desk drawers and making them market-ready to put on the silver screen. I spoke to this NYU Film School graduate recently about the do’s and don’t’s of script writing. She shared with me her struggles as a writer and how she turned them into a series of “how-to” books.

While at NYU,  Marilyn made short films and wrote a novel that was eventually opted as a screenplay. This task – plus a visit in her dreams from Joseph Campbell in a toga – is what made her a writer.

The project to adapt her novel into a screenplay proved a hard one. And the production company told her that if she could not pull the script together, they were going to give it away to someone else. Marilyn was, as many writers would be, terrified of this happening and realized something had to be done.

The outcome of the dream featuring Joseph Campbell – an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer – was a “map” in developing her screenplay’s story … but focused on character first. She discovered a way to work through the hero’s journey and develop a perfect character that the audience could automatically identify with.

From this “map,” she created the Horowitz System. This system, employed in all three of her interactive books, will take your screenplay from its roughest draft to a work-world, ready-to-sell script.

Marilyn says her books are designed in a specific order to accomplish this goal.

  1. The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting
  2. How to Write a Screenplay in 10 Weeks
  3. How to Sell Your Screenplay in 30 Days Using New Media, utilizing a day-by-day marketing plan

Marilyn says, however, “DO NOT do any of this marketing stuff [in How to Sell Your Screenplay in 30 Days] until you KNOW that your screenplay is excellent.”

Find this out by giving your script to professors, entering into contests or paying around $50 for professional readers to give you what’s called coverage, or an analysis and grading of your script. And, by some rule of consensus, if more than 2 or 3 people agree on one thing, then you know it’s something you have to go back and fix.  You can also know your script is silver screen-ready if you follow the handed-down steps in the first part of her book How to Sell Your Screenplay  in 30 Days.

Her marketing plan consists of a calendar and a checklist of things to do every day for a month. It should take no longer than an hour and Marilyn promises that, by the end, you will have a better knowledge of your screenplay in all aspects, not just the selling and marketing.

Just always remember that we are writers. We write to write for the joy of writing, not to make pitches and be our own PR’s, as Marilyn told me. It is important to be knowledgeable about marketing, but write because you’re enjoying it. If you aren’t interested and connected with your story and your characters, nobody else will be, either.

You can buy Marilyn’s books at: http://www.marilynhorowitz.com/books.

I do know that I myself am attempting Marilyn’s method by using How to Sell Your Screenplay in 30 Days Using New Media. The calendar looks fun, organized, and simplistic enough that I would question: why wouldn’t you want to try it?

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