As the writers strike drags on, there's at least one small corner of the industry that hasn't been grinding to a halt over the last months: literary departments at the major talent agencies, which are getting inundated with book proposals and story ideas for novels from out-of-work screenwriters.
"Some of our writers who have ideas but never had the time are turning to their book projects," said Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, an executive vice president of the William Morris Agency's literary department.
Still, the transition from writing action slug lines to smooth literary prose can be bumpier than a jump-cut in a Tarantino film. According to book agent Mary Evans, the fact that a screenwriter has written a manuscript has no bearing on whether his or her book will have even a modicum of writerly competence.
"Oftentimes, you shudder when a screenwriter sends you a novel, because they tend to be strong with dialogue but crappy with context, and novels are all about creating the proper context for the story," said Evans, whose clients include Smith and Michael Chabon. "Screenwriters are attracted to novel writing because they can let their freak flag fly and just write what they want, but the truly talented novelist-slash-screenwriter is very rare."
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(Thanks to Defamer for the initial heads-up.)