Exclusive Interview with Rod White- Writer
Rod A. White has enjoyed writing from an early age. He penned his first series of short stories in fifth grade under the title “The Adventures of Davy Raccoon.” His stories were drawn from both his own frequent excursions into the Daniel Boone National Forest surrounding his hometown of Morehead, Kentucky as well as the vibrant tales of frontiersman Daniel Boone and other adventurers.
As a teenager, Rod once again pursued his passion for writing and produced several more short stories and poems. One of his poems placed in the top tier of a contest and he was invited to travel to Las Vegas – all expenses paid – where he could read his work to an audience that included actor William Shatner, one of the contest judges. However, the award did not include airfare and occurred during school so Rod was unable to attend.
After a decade of creating hundreds of successful articles, blog posts, ebooks, books and comics for an international clientele as a ghostwriter, Rod decided to focus more energy on building his own recognized career as an author. He self-published his first novel in 2017 entitled “Reflections of a Ruby Pendant.” He also began to produce a steady stream of short stories which he sends to publishers and contests. He placed third in two short story contests in 2018.
Rod’s efforts started paying off in 2019. He won first place in a short story contest and placed third in another. He had three stories accepted for inclusion in the anthology “Nano Nightmares” which is due out in April 2020. He started his second novel and wrote his first screenplay – “Impressions of a Kiss” – which he has both submitted to contests and is actively marketing. Rod is also a regular article contributor for Modelsmania magazine, a former ghostwriting client that agreed to publish his articles under his name.
NY Glam: What projects are you currently working on?
I have a slew of irons in the fire at the moment. I am mainly working on two screenplays which I hope to finish this year. Story ideas are not a problem for me. I have a list that is pages long of potential story ideas which I add to on a regular basis. These are used to supply both screenplays and novels. I also keep a script priority list which has around eight or ten stories in the lineup of what I believe are the best. Time is by far the most coveted aspect of writing for me.
I have operated a full-time ghostwriting business for over a decade and, although I mainly write for myself now, I still have a couple of clients for whom I continue to supply work. I am involved in two major ghostwriting projects, one of which is a comic book. I have written several volumes for that and seven issues have been released to date with more in the works. I also produced a few animated scripts used for advertising the series as well as writing the story’s theme song. The client wanted to move toward animating the series, but ran into a problem with market oversaturation of the theme so it is basically on hold.
I have been hired to ghostwrite scripts for another animated cartoon series which began this January. I am finding that I really enjoy writing scripts for animations. They are much shorter than feature movie scripts, but they also have different layers. For example, I have to create one script for each episode which is used to give layout directions to the animators. Then I also must produce a voice over script for the vocal artists which consists of dialog and very brief voice-only directions. You also have to think a bit differently in that animated cartoons must be funny and much more to the point so they definitely provide a means for creative growth which I adore.
NY Glam: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
As an adamant movie watcher, I absolutely loath predictable storylines and outcomes. Knowing what’s going to happen before it occurs greatly takes away from any desired effect. My wife gets miffed sometimes when we’re watching a movie and I project the outcome based solely on its predictability factor. I should say she used to get miffed because she’s getting pretty good at it herself now.
Therefore, as a screenwriter, I seek to apply unpredictability to my stories through twists and varying storylines that avoid obvious projections. I believe such efforts make for a more enhanced experience for viewers.
NY Glam: As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
In order for characters to successfully capture viewers’ attention, they must have distinct personality traits that are well defined. There are a slew of traits such as courageous, arrogant, whiny, anxious, fearful, jealous, angry, devious, etc. The idea is to develop characters for a particular story that exude their particular personality traits, but it is also important that each character’s personality fits in nicely with the storyline. For example, a whining, fearful personality doesn’t fit well with a heroic character… that is unless it is being done on purpose to enhance a comedy film, for example.
Viewers want to identify with the characters in movies. This requires them to become emotionally attached and invested in the characters and that is achieved by making them personable through their defined personalities. Whether hero, villain, sidekick, or victim, they must have specific strengths and weaknesses that viewers both identify with and attach themselves to.
NY Glam: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?
Actually, I am a newcomer to the screenwriting business so I don’t have much of a portfolio to show off. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed writing my first screenplay “Impressions of a Kiss” which I completed in April 2019. I wrote it and have been marketing it as a drama, but now that I’ve sat on it for nearly a year, I am considering changing it to a romantic comedy. I feel that it may play out better as such so the editing of that piece is on my “to do” list.
As I mentioned, I am excited about working on the animated story scripts. It is a ghostwriting project so I am under a Nondisclosure Agreement with the client. Even though I won’t be credited in the project, I still count it as invaluable experience which I can use to develop personal projects in the future. I’ve been negotiating with the client to get my name on the project as a “Creative Consultant” so I am still hoping that works out.
NY Glam: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
I become bored easily so I am constantly seeking new ways of expressing my creativity. For this reason, I am involved in a variety of projects that run a wide gauntlet.
Besides screenplays, I also write a steady stream of short stories which I like to submit to contests and publications. I find they are a great way to hone my skills. I’ve been doing that for around a year now and have won first place in a contest and placed third in several others. I’ve also had a few pieces published in magazines and anthologies.
I am also working on my second novel, a comedy /slash/ thriller entitled “Practical Joker.” People may wonder how a comedy/thriller is possible since they seem to contradict each other. Well, my advice is to wait for it to come out and read it. It has a definite twist in the storyline which I believe few will see coming as well as providing a funny and entertaining read.
I also like to draw and did a lot of that when I was younger. So, on top of all the writing projects I have underway, I am also working steadily on a cartoon strip which I am both writing and illustrating. My goal is to seek syndication for it later this year. I will probably do more cartoon projects to submit to publications, or even animated projects in the future as it provides a nice, creative break from writing.
NY Glam: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking?
I would offer three words of advice… persistence, persistence, persistence. Writing is an art form the same as music, acting, painting, et al, and it takes developing the skills required for gaining success in each one. A writer should be persistent in reading successful works in their chosen genres, persistent in gleaning tips and advice from professionals through informative books and articles, and most of all… persistent in writing day in and day out.
Persistence is a tough tiger to tame. Not only does a writer have to maintain a consistent writing practice regardless of how one feels or what may arise to thwart the process, but they must also deal with deadlines, editors, long waiting periods, and – yes – rejections. That last one is a doozy. In 2019, I submitted over 60 short stories to contests and publications, yet only had eight pieces that either won prizes or were accepted for publication… and I’m not a newby to the craft. I have operated a successful full-time ghostwriting business for over a decade with hundreds of published articles and dozens of published ebooks and books under my belt. The idea is to write, submit, edit, and submit again endlessly.
NY Glam: What can we expect from you in 2020?
I have an aggressive schedule for 2020. My goal is to produce two feature-length screenplays, both of which are already underway. The first is to convert my debut novel, “Reflections of a Ruby Pendant”, into an action adventure screenplay. I had some great feedback on the storyline from a “Cinematic Book” contest I entered.
The second screenplay is a thriller and, although it’s fiction, it is based on real life events. I’m not going to give the storyline away, but it should provide a very nice twist for the vampire/thriller genre.
NY Glam: Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more? …social media…website?
I haven’t created a website yet, but it is definitely on my “to do” list, especially as I become more established under my own name. Until then, those interested in finding out more, keeping up with my projects, or contacting me can do so at email@example.com. I can also be found on Facebook at either of two pages: https://www.facebook.com/rod.white.16 or fb.me/WriterRodAWhite. I am also on Twitter: @WriterRod.