Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Karen Willoughby

An interview with screenwriter Karen Willoughby regarding the Chicago Screenplay Contest Writing Competition.

Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: 2014 Chicago Screenplay Contest FAMILY FILM Category 1st place: Godmother

A romantic fantasy.

A young and extremely dedicated, modern-day fairy godmother may be offered the career opportunity of a lifetime, if she can turn her back on a handsome, pure-hearted university student, that has brought her the happiness she usually brings others.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: I've been living in Chicago for the last three years and I've fallen madly in love with the city. I enjoyed making it one of the characters in the screenplay, in the same way that Woody Allen makes New York a character in many of his works. The Chicago Screenplay Contest seemed perfect for this script.

GODMOTHER has been entered in other contests, but their deadlines haven't come yet.

Q: Were you satisfied with the administration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?

A: Just received the news today--on time.

Q: How long did it take you to write the script? Did you write an outline beforehand? How many drafts did you write?

A: It took about a month to write, and about two months to edit and re-write. I wouldn't say there were drafts as much as scene changes and timeline corrections. For the most part the story was completed in my head before I started writing. It was just a matter of making sure the reader would care about the characters as much as I did. I needed the dialog to be believable even if it was in a fantasy sort of setting. Then there was the matter of filling in the sub-plot and sub-charachters to fill out the script.

Q: What kind of software did you use to write the script, if any? What other kinds of writing software do you use?

A: I use Final Draft (Version 8) which saves so much time. It really allows you to concentrate on your dialog and not worry about formatting. Such a time-saver.

Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?

A: I don't "write" every day, but I do work out parts of the script, or a script each day. I "watch" the movie in my head, then just write it down at some point. I may work on multiple scripts at the same time, and jump around. Something may happen to me on a given day that inspires me to write scenes on one script, and leave another to sit for days.

Q: Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you deal with that?

A: If I get blocked on one script, I work on another. Or start a new one.

Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?

A: I was a journalist for many years, and editor for an international magazine while living in Europe. Prior to that I'd also written music and had some minor success with a couple songs. I've only started writing screenplays two years ago and thouroughly enjoy the medium. I feel this is where I belong.

Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?

A: I love Chicago and don't want to leave just yet.

Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?

A: I'm working on four.

Posted Friday, August 1, 2014