Carolyn Kettig. Zeus. Grade 10, Age 15. 2011 Gold Medal, Photography.

In this month’s Ask Ned, Ned explains how to bring a story to life on film or television.

Reyna Asked:

I’ve always written short stories with the hope of bringing them to life in an actual television series or making a movie based on my work. Do you have any advice or insight for a writer who wants to see their work on the screen?

Ned Answered:

If you want to write for movies or television, move to Los Angeles. It boils down to money. It’s free to make a person’s head explode in a short story… but it costs big bucks to get someone’s head to explode on film. So the moment you write for a visual medium, you are implicitly asking someone for money to make your vision come to life. And the people who spend money on that stuff, by and large, work in Los Angeles.

Now, if you write a short story (or book) that has compelling characters that directors want to direct and actors want to play, it’s always possible that someone will option it and adapt it and you’ll get to see those characters come to life on the big or small screen — and to do that, you can be anywhere you want; you just have to write a good story. There’s a lot to be said for the freedom of creation that process offers.

But if you want to get down in the trenches and write for film or TV, you will need to come out here, write a spec screenplay (or a spec episode of a television show), find an agent, and get a job. Sometimes we forget that dreams don’t come true unless we put ourselves in the places where they’re made.

Thanks and good luck!


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Have questions about writing or the business of publishing? Ask a real writer! Ned Vizzini is the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah…. Ned has spoken at over 200 schools, universities, libraries and organizations around the world about writing and mental health. He currently reviews books for the L Magazine and is writing for season 2 of MTV’s Teen Wolf. His work has been translated into seven languages. His next novel, The Other Normals, will be published in fall 2012. E-mail your questions to

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