Interview with screenwriter Dene Stark

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

When I was 10 I wrote a story about all the substitute teachers being kidnapped by the real teachers! They tied them up and left them in the basement. I still have it! It’s a work of art!

  • Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?

I’ve always loved the darker stories, I watched Beetlejuice a hundred times thinking it was the coolest story about death. I wanted to write movies that incorporated death, I was fascinated by it and decided I wanted to make that the basis of my writing, to bring it more into the light rather than have it sit within the darkness.

  • For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?

There is no ‘best way’, everyone will tell you a different story of how they got their script read and most probably none of them will work for you. The only advice is network where you can in person and get your name out there, build a social media following and post all your wins and placements and always be professional and kind. Leave your ego at the door.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

Honestly the stuff that comes into my mind has nothing to do with my experiences, I don’t know where it comes from but if it did have anything to do with my personal experiences I’d be pretty messed up!

  • Can you explain your character development process?

I always try and put myself in their shoes, what would they think? How would they think? Like my poor Mortician, what would it be like to be a Mortician? What kinds of thoughts would run through their minds? How would they cope? Be your character and research research  research.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

Basic Bios, because my characters develop as the story does. I write fears, flaws, weaknesses etc. But the character reveals his or herself as I go.

  • How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?

I’m not sure about other writers but I can detach easily. I open my writing program and I’m the hero, I’m right there experiencing  everything they do but as soon as I close my laptop I leave the character on the page.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

I think structure is a must, otherwise it’s like having a body with no skeleton, if you can imagine that haha. If only a basic structure, it must be there otherwise you really have no script. Structure is the backbone to any good script.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

I was wondering if this question would come up! NO! I do not outline! I will probably be labelled a pariah! I have tried and I get writer’s block every single time. My stories develop as I write them, it’s how I’ve always written and it works for me. I’m really more of an intuitive writer, the story comes to me as I write, not before, but as I am typing, the next scene will pop into my head. I don’t know how to write any other way.

  • What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Be the character.