Graphic by staff graphic designer Sumen Imtiaz.
Writers of Tomorrow* is a Slice of Culture series where we strive to highlight our writers of tomorrow — aspiring novelists, songwriters, fanfiction writers, playwrights and more.
In this week’s Writers of Tomorrow, we are going behind the scenes with 27-year-old Sarah Robertson.
First off, some of you may be wondering what a screenwriter is. According to Screen Skills, a screenwriter is someone who writes and develops screenplays for films or TV dramas. They collaborate with producers, directors and actors to draft and redraft their script, often working to tight deadlines.
Some screenwriters have only been practicing their art for a few years while others have been screenwriting for the majority of their lives and may have even begun playwriting at first
But what’s the difference between playwriting and screenwriting? According to Industrial Scripts, the main difference is that a film is a visual medium with screenwriting focusing on the action while a play relies heavily on words focusing on dialogue.
We asked Robertson about this.
How long have you been into screenwriting?
“Probably, I’d like to say five years.”
Many screenwriters claim it is an underrated art.
Think about it — screenwriting is a necessary part of bringing an idea of a movie or TV show to life; a script can make or break it.
But viewers and fans are more likely to remember iconic moments and lines in conjunction with the actors/actresses rather than the people who wrote them.
You might think of movies and shows like: “A Few Good Men,” “The Princess Bride,” “Supernatural” and various other films as great movies and shows yet not many people remember the names of the people who wrote the scripts.
This made me wonder what gets people into screenwriting in the first place.
What got you into screenwriting?
“I’m an actor as well, and I really like telling stories whether it’s acting or writing the stories.
I guess it was mostly to start writing roles for myself, but now it’s a big passion of mine.”
Like many writers, Robertson says that the most difficult part of writing is just sitting down and writing. Inspiration doesn’t always come when it’s wanted or needed, which can be especially difficult for writers working on a deadline
All writers have their favorite parts of the process, I asked Robertson what’s hers.
What is your favorite part about the screenwriting process?
“I guess it’s when you get into a really good writing groove and you can just go for hours at a time because it doesn’t happen often.”
Robertson is from a family of artists and many of her friends are in the writing and acting industries. She bounces ideas off of her partner.
Are you working on anything professionally, currently?
“Professionally, I’m actually in the process of getting this sci-fi pilot on its feet.”
Robertson gave Slice of Culture a brief description of what she is currently working: an hour-long, sci-fi/dystopian series titled “Return.”
“In the last decades on Earth, an unorthodox religious civilization attempts to clean the souls of those who sinned in past lives. Questions arise when one of their own, Ada Sullivan, is pronounced dead.”
I had asked Robertson was about her dreams growing up. She said, “I’ve always known, it was just in my blood.”
That made me wonder about her involvement with writing at a young age.
Did you work on anything involving writing when you were younger?
“Um, there was a little series that my parents’ acting school put on and I helped them write it.
I also did all the musicals and plays, and I was the first women actress to win an award for acting in my high school.”
I wondered how the pandemic had affected Robertson’s work. It was a difficult time, but some say it freed up their schedule while others say it hinders their process.
I, of course, had to ask Robertson her opinion.
Has the pandemic affected your writing any? If yes, how so, exactly?
“Absolutely, it has made me a much busier writer especially during quarantine, even though it was a harsh time for the world.
It just gave me time because I didn’t have to go to work.”