James Savoca is a writer/director of independent feature films, teacher, and author. He got his start in the theater, writing and directing several plays in New York’s downtown Off-Off Broadway. He started his own production company and wrote and directed his first feature Sleepwalk, which premiered at SXSW Film Festival, and later sold to IFC. He went on to write and direct two more feature films, Around June being his most recent, which was theatrically released in 2012.
At present, he teaches at USC, and is in development on his fourth feature film. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
What inspires you to write?
The desire to write began when I was a teenager, I think simply wanting to do something different, not to sit in the living room with the rest of the family and watch television. It felt good, productive, and by being alone and being creative, felt important. Then habits form, and before you know it, you write.
Tell us about your writing process.
Schedule. Very important. When I start a project, whether it’s a book or script, I create a schedule and stick to it. Write every morning, and if I can, a little bit in the evening.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Outliner. Have always been an outliner. For me, it’s best to outline, as it is simply laying down a plan, and then when I write, I can stick to the plan, or deviate. I have the freedom to do whatever I please, but it is comforting to have a plan or structure to rely on.
I use no software for this. I write in notepads, use index cards, then type it up. Sometimes write on walls, use large boards or large sheets of paper. I like to “see” my story – see the structure of it. In the outline, that’s all I want to do, is create the structure.
Always create character sketches. You have to create the well in order to draw from it. Creating character sketches is creating well. Not to do it is insane. For me, the more I know about my character prior to writing, the richer the character will turn out. I think it’s a must to CREATE a character before you write, because when you do, writing the dialogue is much easier as it is coming from a well formed character.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read. And keep on reading. Simple. Have to read. I think all beginning writers who made it as writer read much more than they wrote at first. Then of course you have to sustain good reading habits. Reading is simply the best way to be inspired, that is, outside of actually living life.
Lastly, pick a favorite book and study it. Know exactly what works and how. Then try and copy it.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’m an independent filmmaker, so for me is was a no brainer to self publish. When I make films, I usually do so through my own production company, and the digital revolution is here now in the publishing world and let’s all thank the heavens! Friedman is right – the world is getting flatter.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Wide open. The gates are collapsing. Walk through them. Kick first, if you can.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
non fiction and fiction
What formats are your books in?