Today’s guest is author Abdi Nazemian. Abdi is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Celeste in the City, Beautiful Girl, and the short film Revolution, which he also directed. He is an alumnus of the Sundance Writer’s Lab, a mentor at the Outfest Screenwriter’s Lab, and has taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension. He lives in Los Angeles with his two children, and his dog Hedy Lamarr.
The Walk-In Closet is his first novel. It was chosen as the winner in the Gay and Lesbian Fiction category at the 2014 International Book Awards, and was named a finalist in the Best Mulicultural Fiction category at the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
What’s the book about?
Kara Walker has never found much glamour in her own life, especially not when compared to the life of her best friend, Bobby Ebadi. Bobby, along with his sophisticated parents Leila and Hossein, is everything Kara always wanted to be. The trio provides the perfect antidote to what Kara views as the more mundane problems of her girlfriends and her divorced parents. So when the Ebadis assume that Kara is Bobby’s girlfriend, she willingly steps into the role. She enjoys the perks of life in this closet, not only Leila’s designer hand-me-downs and free rent, but also the excitement of living life as an Ebadi. As Kara’s 30th birthday approaches, Leila and Hossein up the pressure. They are ready for Kara to assume the mantle of the next Mrs. Ebadi, and Bobby seems prepared to give them what they want: the illusion of a traditional home and grandchildren. How far will Kara be willing to go? And will she be willing to pull the Persian rug out from under them when she discovers that her own secret is just one of many lurking inside the Ebadi closet?
Five Things Every Screenwriter Should Know About Writing A Novel
During my very first book reading for my very first novel, The Walk-In Closet, I was asked how writing screenplays and writing novels were different. I wasn’t fully satisfied with my answer, so I thought I’d compose this list of the five crucial things every screenwriter should know about writing a novel.
- There is no software to guide the writing process.
You know how screenplays sometimes feel like they’re writing themselves. That’s because Final Draft is an intuitive friend that often knows what you want to write before you do. Just press one letter, and suddenly Final Draft has magically written the name of your next speaking character. You haven’t written a word, but nevertheless there is a word on the page, and from there, it’s not so hard to write another. There is, sadly, no software that will intuitively write any portion of a novel for you, though I sure hope that someone in Silicon Valley is working on one.
- You can’t blame the director.
If anyone ever criticizes a film whose script you wrote, it’s quite easy to use the standard phrase, “It’s the director’s fault.” In fact, “It’s the director’s fault” is probably as common a phrase in Hollywood as, “Is this gluten free?” Unfortunately, there’s no one but yourself to blame if and when someone criticizes your novel. Every word is on you, unless you hired a ghostwriter, and even then they’re a ghost, so every word is still on you.
- You can’t fix it in post.
Films are written three times: on the page, on set, and in the editing room. The post-production process, in effect, writes the true final script of the movie. Part of this process can include re-shoots, ADR (additional dialogue recording), and of course, liberal cutting and shifting of scenes. And if your movie makes no sense, you can even add a voice-over. There is, unfortunately, no post-production for novels. The writer’s final draft is the true final draft, and there will be no post-production session to add that extra plotline you finally cracked after the fact.
- Remember that your real purpose is to sell the film rights.
In Hollywood, novels are not books. They are “source material.” After all, what is the purpose of literature if not to be turned into a film or television show? All the best books get turned into movies, which is why such subpar texts as The Catcher In The Rye, Gravity’s Rainbow, and Middlesex have been left untouched by Hollywood. Once your book is legitimized by Hollywood, it will be issued in a new edition that reads, “Now a Major Motion Picture,” even if the motion picture is very minor. And if you’re lucky, this new edition will have a glossy photo of a Hollywood celebrity on the cover, making your book indistinguishable from an issue of US Weekly. Which is wonderful news, since way more people read US Weekly than novels. And even better news: Once your book is a movie, if anyone ever criticizes it, you’ll be able to say, “It’s the director’s fault.”
- It’s all worth it.
Because despite not having any software to guide you, and no director to blame, and no post-production to smooth out your clunky beats, and no control over your “source material,” you have written a novel, and that’s something any writer should be proud of. The first thing I did when I received the galley of my book was proudly show it off to my two-year old twins. I pointed to the author photo and said, “Look kids, Daddy wrote a book!” Sure, they ignored me and went right back to banging pots and pans, but that feeling of pride I had when I held the novel in my hands was definitely worth the effort.
Have thoughts on what numbers 6-10 should be? We’d love to hear about it in comments.