Filmmakers Global Network ::
Community Spotlight with Karlina Veras Reid
Dominican Writer based in London.
Besides writing for the screen, I also write a wide range of poetry and literary fiction in both English and Spanish. At the moment, I am working on a feature film, written both in English and Spanish. Think something like Captain Phillips, which I am on the final rewriting process before sending it off to producers. I also have another script which there is a producer already attached to it, and we are on the development stage of this project, which will be in Spanish and shot in the Dominican Republic. On the literary side, I am working on a poetry collection and on the revisions for the English version of my short story collection, ‘Yun Yun (pa’ la calor), which I am to release by the end of this year and/or early next year.
I initially spend a long time, contemplating, thinking about my ideas, my characters, who they are, would I want to be friends with them? What would I say to them if bumped into them on the street? I normally like to write about them in prose form first, in my notebook – by hand. Draw them even, imagine them standing right there in front of me.
Then, I draft a treatment, which normally ends up being a brainstorming document with all my ideas on the project. Not everything there is usable, but it is a great start. Then, I do a beat board. Again, this can change – it usually does – but I find it useful to map my story that way.
Then, the fun begins: I write! Nonstop for days on end until it’s done. This is what it is usually called – vomit draft, or in the words of Anne Lamott, and my favourite term, the Shitty First Draft.
Once this shitty first draft is done, I celebrate. Very important to acknowledge our wins as creatives. Be it with a posh beer, a bath with infused lavender sea salts or by simply going for a walk. I take it in. I enjoy the moment. I smile. Then, I take that first draft and forget about it for a while. It’s important to refresh your mind from a project, to get distance.
After a few days, weeks, months depending, I go back to it. Read it through. I take what works and highlight it, I toss what doesn’t and do a rewrite. I repeat the process, rewrite, take notes, repeat until I feel it’s done.
“Writing” Challenge and Solution:
Hard question. There are so many to choose from. I guess one good example was when working on a particular script, I initially thought that the story was meant to be told through the eyes of all three main characters, that it was the story of all three. As I went along in the writing and rewriting process, I realised it wasn’t working. It was too much. The challenge here being, who is the story really about?
The solution was to focus on one main character and tell the story through his eyes, let the audience discover the world from his perspective, instead of getting into all three characters at the same time.
More times other than not, less is really more.
3 Screenwriting Tips:
(#1) Make sure you write every day, no matter what. Whether it’s on your script, in a different genre, or simply diary entries, it’s fundamental to keep the writing muscles working.
(#2) Read, read, read. Read scripts, books, stories, poems, anything, but read. The best way to gain insight, inspiration, find ways to connect to yourself is through reading. Take it in. You can’t give what you don’t have.
(#3) Be willing to take feedback on your work. However, always listen to your gut, your instinct. Be true to yourself and the idea to the best of your ability. Remember, everyone has an opinion, but only you know the story in its purest form. Only you know what it is you want to tell. Stay true to that.
Someone once said to me the following: Write with an open mind and a humble heart. To me, this is the base of what being a writer should look like. Be open. Be humble.
Karlina Veras is a Dominican writer living in London. Inspired by everyday life and childhood experiences, she writes from an early age, deepening in poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction and screenplays, both in English and Spanish. Using language as a tool, she writes from a point of longing and nostalgia. She is very much involved within the Latin community in the U.K. Issues such as woman empowerment and social injustice are very important to her and can be seen throughout her work. Her characters are usually unapologetic beings and have a peculiar way of seeing the world. Her flash fiction collection Yun Yun (pa’ la calor) has been acclaimed by critics of the Latin American literary world. She is now working on a screenplay, a short story and poetry collection. Her work is being translated into Italian and English. When she is not writing, she reads, and practices Chinese Martial arts.