In the Spotlight: Alaina MacPherson
Finding the balance is key and can be one of the hardest things to achieve as a screenwriter. It's easy to lose yourself in the process and forget about all the other things in life such as work or family. The opposite can be true as well where your writing takes a back seat to adulting. But Alaina has struck the balance as a full-time novelist, screenwriter, and mom she has found the balance to achieve her goals. That is something we can all learn from which is why I am excited to introduce you to her.
This is Alaina MacPherson...
I am a novelist, screenwriter, parent and wife, and usually not in that order. I started writing in middle school, my first short story about a couple of kids during an alien invasion but didn’t start sharing my work with others until high school. That Buffy fanfic was a big hit!
The next jump in my writing career didn’t happen until after I had my second child, when I published my first book, a paranormal romance. A few months after that, I stumbled into screenwriting and discovered I wasn’t terrible at it. A few scripts and ten more books later, I am now a quarterfinalist list in the ScreenCraft Fellowship Competition and an Official Selection in Script Summit.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
I started off as a novelist, but it was slow. Only writing when I felt like it, not really carving out time to do it. One day, in 2017, I started a Twitter account to help promote my writing, thinking I would start doing it for real this time since the husband was deployed and I needed something to pass the time. I followed my favorite actors and that led me to following a screenwriter, now a showrunner. I thought, lets see what that’s all about and I took a short week-long class, wrote my first pilot script and fell in love with it.
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I loved the creativity behind it. The screenwriter is the one telling the story, it’s the actors, directors and other production members that bring it to life. I loved that concept. Also, when I was a sophomore in high school, the librarian, Mrs. Crabtree, saw me everyday during my free period in there, writing fanfiction. She suggested that I write scripts. At the time, I laughed. She recently passed away but I’m happy that I was able to tell her “thank you” for that.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
When I first decided I would go for it for real, was after I’d won my first Honorable Mention from the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood with my first draft of my first script. My parents, husband and friend all assured me that I wasn’t crazy to try and go for screenwriting. That I was a good writer and that I could certainly adapt to screenwriting as well and actually try for the big leagues.
Submit to the Script Summit
Screenwriting Contest & join our Facebook Writers Group
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Probably when I realized I wasn’t terrible. Even if it was a small competition, I did place rather high, for a beginner, and I thought, this could be something I’d be happy to do for the rest of my life.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Success, to me, depends on my goals, and they are always changing, depending on where I’m at in my career. Right now, my short-term goal is to find representation to help me get one of my scripts sold. I would love to work in a writers room on a show, but I wouldn’t be able to move to LA for that, with having a family in Washington State. Frequent travel, absolutely, but no longer than a few weeks at a time. Not right now, at least. Long term goal, would be to not be a one-hit-wonder and to continue to perfect my craft, to get better at writing comedy, which is a weakness for me.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life:
If I’m lucky, my kids won’t wake up until 6:30AM, but usually they are up by 5:30AM, so I rise early. I have three children, one with ADHD, another on the Autism Spectrum and another with a speech delay and possible sensory processing issues. So, any writing I do has to wait until the part-time nanny arrives. Which we are only able to pay for through the books I sell on Amazon. She arrives at 8AM, that’s when I start writing or handling other business aspects of being a writer. There’s a writers group that I’m a part of that helps with accountability and that’s helped a lot. It’s also been nice to socialize between writing sprints. I am way too tired to write in the evenings, but I wish I weren’t. Before I had our youngest, I used to write a couple hours in the evenings, but not anymore.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
I think I am most proud of stepping out of my shell to talk about myself or my writing. I honestly didn’t want to talk about the stuff I wrote because of fear of scrutiny or judgement but I’ve come to realize that any notes or criticism is mostly productive and meant to help improve rather than judge.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Not writing description. I usually write a script at the same time I’m writing a book. When toggling between the two, I have to change gears and remind myself not to include descriptors that those viewing it on the screen wouldn’t feel/hear like a reader would.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The greatest reward for me is all the wonderful people I’ve met through my journey. And I know it’s just the beginning. The stories I’ve heard, on paper and from behind the scenes have been incredible.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
I can’t explain it, but I am so excited to learn of all the success my peers have. When they celebrate on social media, via chat or on Clubhouse, it’s so amazing to find joy with them and celebrate. All the happy endings, or good beginnings do good things to my heart. Especially recently with the pandemic.
The Successful Screenwriter Podcast - (Episodes)
The Guide For Every Screenwriter - (Paperback) (Free Ebook)
We Fix Your Script - (Free Consultation)
InkTip - (List your script)
International Screenwriting Association - (ISA Connect)
WriterDuet - (Screenwriting Software)
Bulletproof Screenwriting - (Script Coverage)
Indie Film Hustle Academy - (Screenwriting Courses)
Krista Keller Talent - (Management)
The Robb Company - (Management)