For a while now, I had this story idea, it was going to be a feature, and then a TV series, then one day, I realised that it had to be a book.
Book Writing vs Screenplay Writing
I’ve got to be honest, as much as I love writing screenplays, I was looking for some freedom on the page. Short, punchy descriptions are fine, but what about long, sweeping descriptions? I could spend pages delving into my character’s thoughts and deepest desires, but then reality came crashing down.
A Few Stats
The average feature screenplay contains about 100-110 pages (roughly 25/30,000 words). By contrast, a thriller book contains 80/100,000words. Quite a leap. Not only that, but everything including editing and rewrites take much longer as a result. It was a sobering fact. I had never written that many words in one go, so I had to come up with a plan.
You think outlining is important when writing screenplays? Try to have a whole story spread across a medium that is four times as long. I know people have ambivalent ideas about outlining, but for me, it was the only way I could even fathom to accomplish this. Not only that, but I also knew that the outline had to be much longer and more detailed than the ones I would normally do. The outlining and research (the book is set between 1996 and 1997) took about two months.
You think facing a blank page on Final Draft is scary? Opening Word to take on this humongous task literally made my head spin. How could I ever write that many words? Am I good enough to do this? The only way I could cope with the pressure was to set daily goals with the sole objective to complete the book.
You Pull Me In is a gritty thriller which examines the trappings of psychological coercion from the standpoint of a young woman who falls into a passionate, but destructive relationship. This is a raw and difficult subject matter. There were times when I didn’t want to go where I did, but it was essential. If I was going to spend months writing this book, I had to do this properly or not bother at all. Again, I focused on the completion of the book and zoned out on all the background noise, critics will come later.
I started off wanting to write about 3500 words a day. That was tough. I brought it down to 3000. It was hard, I won’t lie, but if I hadn’t stuck to that word count, I would have never finished the book.
Send It Off to an Editor
When the book was completed, I sadly didn’t have any fellow authors to send it to, so I hired a professional book editor to take a look it. I was also waiting to see if I was any good at this novel writing thing. Good news was that he loved it. The only thing was that he felt that I should stick with my main protagonist’s voice as opposed to also include the antagonist’s one.
Once I made those changes, I sent it off to a copy editor and after more editing, the book was finally completed.
Publishing the book
I tried to send it off to agents, but it was taking forever, and I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I went another way.
Although I had made many screenwriting connections and I was also involved with the WRAC Group (@TheWracGroup), I didn’t know any authors. This is when I stumbled upon Pitch Wars (@PitchWars), which aims to connect authors and agents on twitter. Although I didn’t succeed in getting an agent, I did improve my pitching skills, and more importantly, made friends with fellow authors. I thought screenwriters were lovely folks, but authors turned out to be just as talented, lovely, and supportive. When I do write my second book, I now know where to turn for betas readers!
The TV Script
The WRAC Group organises a bi-yearly writer accountability event and it came around just as I had completed the book, so I set out to write a TV pilot based on the book as part of a limited series. I was pretty confident that I could easily do this, but nothing is that easy, is it? For starters, the book is narrated in Lucy’s voice and that just wouldn’t work out on the screen. However, writing for a visual medium meant that I could use visuals and pacing that would be impossible in novel writing. It was a lot of fun actually. If I’m honest, the book and the pilot fed into each other and I even found myself going back to the book and editing it a little more. I sent the pilot off to fellow screenwriters for review and it was finally ready.
WRAC list and publication day
I had made the WRAC19 list and when the list came out in December 2019, I knew the book had to come out at the same time, so I set out to publish it with Amazon Kindle. I created a cover with Canva and, since the book was already copy-edited, I ran it through Amazon publisher. Within a day, my ebook was live.
I marketed the book by tweeting about the TV pilot via the WRAC19 list while making sure to use hashtags such as #KindleUnlimited to draw traffic. I also created an account on GoodReads and ran a campaign to offer a free ebook against an honest review. I gave the book to four random readers, which got me reviews on Amazon and GoodReads with an average of 4.5 out of 5. To maintain the momentum, I’m also planning to run a sale soon. If you’re going to self-publish, you need to spend time to market and publicise your book.
Writing a book wasn’t easy, but it was definitely my biggest achievement in 2019. The fact that it is doing so well with readers so far has definitely boosted my confidence and I’m already planning another book later in the year (based in Barcelona and inspired by a true crime). However, I still love screenwriting. I completed two screenplays last year that are getting some traction and I’m currently working on a comedy drama feature. All in all, I’m so glad I took a chance on novel writing. I can definitely say that it has not only helped me improve my screenwriting skills, but it has also opened me up to a wonderful new world of writing and author friends.
Read Anne-Ceille Ville's thriller book, You Pull Me, now available to buy on Amazon Kindle.