Scott had a difficult choice. One that many of us have had to struggle with. And that is “Should I go for it?” He had the courage to say yes and because of that he is about to see the fruits of his success played out before him. This is why I am so excited to introduce you to this writer. This is Scott Nelson…
I was born in the Midwest to a rather poor family. As such, movies were one of my early escapes, and I would go to them every chance I could. I would work odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn money to go to the theater. I thought it was escapism, but little did I realize how much it was impacting me.
I started to write stories. I loved the writing of Ray Bradbury, and tried to be like him, which of course, I couldn’t be. But it got me to put pen to paper, dream up wild universes, and scratch a budding itch that the movies had given me.
However, I didn’t start writing seriously until later in life at the age of 58. I’ve written features, tv scripts, and now have 24 shorts which are currently in production over the next 6 months. Shorts are fun to write because I use them as a sort of laboratory to work on something such as characterization or dialogue to make myself better. I still work on features, but the shorts encourage me and help me to improve.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
A coworker gave me a copy of Body Heat. She wanted to be a writer, and thought I might be interested as well. I suspect she was looking for a cowriter. But I found the format, and the linkage to the actual movie, fascinating. Flash forward to more recent times. Watching shows such as Twin Peaks, Westworld, and the Man in the High Castle opened my eyes to the power of the media. I started to wonder, “could I create something like that?”
Submit to the Script Summit
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
I had always wanted to be a writer, but I had assumed that meant novels and short stories. But when I talked to people, I realized that it was movies that really had taken hold of their souls. I began to appreciate the power of the medium and wanted to be a part of that.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
I had the usual suspects. My mother was a closet romance novelist. I used to read her works and of course, she told me I was great. Moms do that. My wife and daughter have also been very supportive. But the real key came from Rachelle Chartrand. If you really are into science fiction, you might know her from a role Stargate SG-1. She is now a producer, and was looking for a short. She was the one who bought my first short. I’ll never forget the day. September 4, 2018. For the first time in my life, a stranger, who had lots of scripts to choose from, choose mine. That lit the fire.
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
I’ve always been a fan of the written word, and the power it can carry when used well. I grew up watching or reading the stories of Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, Philip Dick, and Harlan Ellison to name a few. I would often find myself lost in their work But it was David Lynch that opened the door to my thinking. The world he created for me in Twin Peaks made me see the real power of a good story. Not that everyone liked that story. But for me, I couldn’t get enough. I read every blog, every theory, every add on to his work. One day, I thought, “why not me?” I doubt I could every write at that level, but if I don’t try, I certainly can’t. So now I’m on the path to see just what I am capable of.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Writing stories I like. I realize not everyone will like my work. No writer is popular with everyone. So I have to feel that I told a good story, and like a child, let it find its way in the world. The vast majority are either not interested, or there is not a fit for what they need. But when I find that one person, who when they read it feels the story as deeply as I did when I wrote it, then I was successful. The best compliment I think I ever got was from a producer recently who read one of my stories and said “this gave me goosebumps.”. That was success.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
I am a morning person. I get up about 6 am and take the dog (80 pound German Shepherd), for a walk. I like to write early. I’m most creative first thing. I like to edit in the afternoon. At night, I read other scripts, and watch movies and TV shows for ideas.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
There have been a lot. But I think the most important one is becoming my own biggest fan. I realized early on that if I didn’t love my work, it was doubtful anyone else would. Plus, having a thick skin starts with believing in yourself. So I work to make a story as good as I can, but in the end the real key is that I like it. I have to honestly think it’s good. I believe that there is a producer that is looking for this script. I sometimes see other writers posting in such a way that I can tell they don’t believe in their work. If they don’t believe in it, why should anyone else? And if I don’t believe in it, how will I stand up against those that, while good meaning, basically tell you that they don’t like your work?
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Focus. I have too many ideas to work on everything. And sometimes, it’s hard to finish one piece because five other good ideas pop up. I find that focus is critical to get anything done. If I lose that, I end up with dozens of half written stories.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made? I’ve learned a lot about me from my stories. I realize they reflect my heart, my soul, my deepest feelings. Sometimes I find things coming out that I didn’t realize I felt. What could be better than knowing myself? I also am living for the day (should be very soon), when I see my first work actually produced and on the screen. The moment of seeing my thoughts, and characters, and dialogue come alive. Just amazing.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers? Always looking for ideas of how to do things better, and pitfalls to avoid. Also interested in finding people who would like to work on a story. I don’t pretend I have this business figured out by any means. Other writers coming alongside will make me better, and hopefully I can make them better as well.