There’s a word in the publishing industry that describes, more or less, the act of an author fantasizing about which actors and actresses will be starring in the movie that could be adapted from their not-yet-published novel. The term is “Casturbation” (NOT coined by The Friedrich Agency), and here’s why it’s a mindset to avoid.

1.) Because you are writing a novel, not a screenplay. You’re trying to get published, right? So you’ve chosen to tell your story in writing, and you’ve chosen to reach out to an audience of readers for a reason. If your goal is to have your name appear on a screen following “based on the book by” then save yourself the time and emotional exhaustion of publishing.

2.) Because this business doesn’t work like that. If you are fortunate enough to get published, the film deal is yet another hurdle to jump, and even if you get an option (wherein you grant the film rights to a producer, writer, studio, or director temporarily), getting the film made is an even taller, more wobbly hurdle to jump after that. Moreover, book-to-film deals tend to have an element of the “random”– such and such television celebrity loved the book and happens to be looking for a project to help them break into feature films. And like the publishing industry, the film industry is dramatically narrowing the scope of their content. In publishing, everyone wants you to add a vampire to your story. In film, everyone wants you to deliver a non-stop action-packed adrenaline rush (exploding cars are a plus).

3.) Because you will break your own heart. Remember back in third grade, when you had a crush on Jason Jones and so you scribbled “Mrs. Jason Jones” a hundred times in your composition notebook? Bad idea. It’s called getting ahead of yourself. So take it one step at a time– focus on your writing, how can it be stronger? How can you produce more of the (humor, drama, suspense, insight) that you wish for your reader? All else should be calmly placed on your mental back-burner.

*And a note for writers who will soon be querying agents for the first time– for Goodness sake, don’t begin your letter with, “I think Meryl Streep would be a shoe-in for the heroine of my novel…”

6 Responses to “Casturbation”

  1. Lorra Laven says:

    “Moreover, book-to-film deals tend to have an element of the “random”– It was a completely random happenstance that I optioned the rights to my first novel, “Secrets of an All-Boys’ Prep School.” Even saw a screenplay written, had a director attached. It was all very promising and exciting for a writer who wasn’t even published.

    But as you so wisely state, “getting the film made is an even taller, more wobbly hurdle to jump after that.” Optioning the film rights is like being engaged to be engaged – you don’t have the ring, much less the groom. The film never got made. The novel never got published. But it was fun while it lasted.

  2. Sharpe says:

    I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

  3. Good article, thanks. I really like it.

  4. Cheers for the fantastic page – I loved reading it! I always enjoy reading this blog. :)

  5. Kram Nosrac says:

    I really appreciated your post. But I wanted to take this opportunity to complain about ungrateful daughters. They whine, they cry, they complain, they don’t let me watch Dave Chapelle. What’s a dad to do?

  6. admin says:

    They don’t let you watch Dave Chappelle? With all due respect sir, lay down the law!

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