First off, don’t let being a copywriter and being a copyrighter confuse you. These are two completely different occupations. Copyrighters are of the legal persuasion whist copywriters are writers of advertising copy.
I started my writing journey as a copywriter in an advertising agency in London. I wrote print ads, TV commercials, radio spots, and billboards for a wide variety of products; beer, candy bars, tampons, automobiles – you name it. Some of my writing was quite amusing, some of it quite dramatic but all of it was selling something. I even picked up several awards over the years, so I guess I was pretty good at it.
It’s a highly creative profession as the goal is always to be original and engaging. After all, advertising should be entertaining if it’s to be memorable. But I rarely wrote anything longer than a few pages of ad copy and everything I typed on the page had to be approved – first by my Group Head, then the Creative Director, then the Account Director and finally it got in front of the client for their approval. In twenty years of writing ad copy, only once did anything get through the entire approval process unscathed without someone adding or deleting to my original genius.
And that’s why being a copywriter can be so frustrating.
Writing screenplays is a whole other ball of wax. If you’ve not been commissioned by a studio or a producer to write a script then you’re writing what’s known a ‘spec script.’ And, unless you have a Hollywood agent, it’s highly unlikely your spec script will ever become more than lots of words on lots of pages with a couple of brass brads holding them all together.
I’ve written a ton of spec scripts. Some I thought were brilliant, some were bordering on nonsense but all required weeks, if not months, of dedicated writing. For me to write a screenplay, I would film every scene in my head and put it on paper knowing I’d never be involved in directing it, even if I were fortunate enough for anyone to buy it.
It’s tough to sell something that no one has asked for in the first place and that no movie star is attached to. I’ve known writers of screenplays who’ve had their scripts optioned by studios and have been well compensated but then they wave goodbye to their work. The studios have their own writers who usually re-write them, adding new characters, or deleting some, or killing scenes, or do a ‘polish’ or change the ending completely. After all that, rarely do spec scripts ever get made into finished films and when they do, don’t bet on getting a writing credit.
And that’s why being a screenwriter is so frustrating.
Which brings me to where I am today. Fem Dom and Regression are my first and second published novels. I wrote every word in both of them. They are my stories, my characters, my words coming out of their mouths, my plot twists, my beginnings, my middles and my endings. No creative directors, studio suits, account execs, clients or Hollywood polishers got to add, change or delete any of it, and neither needed millions of dollars to produce. I was my own editor and publisher. They are all mine, mine, mine! The buck stops here, both figuratively and literally.
And that’s why being a novelist is so rewarding.