by Chrysa Keenon
As an eight-time Scholastic Art & Writing Award winner and successful sophomore in the Professional Writing Department, Sarah Gorman is a writer that wears many hats. Between screenwriting and novel writing, Gorman has a busy schedule filled with plotting. Here is a glimpse into her fantasy worlds and writing process.
Q: How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Sarah Gorman (SG): In fourth grade, my teacher gave the class an assignment to write a story that wasn’t real, and I didn’t know that was possible. I was so excited, I wrote a story that was way too long, but the desire was there, and it has never really gone away. At the end of fourth grade, our teacher predicted what we would do with our lives, and she told me I would write the “great American mermaid novel.” My parents thought was very funny, but I had no idea what that meant at the time.
Q: Why do you enjoy screenwriting?
SG: My first semester at Taylor, my roommate got me watching Merlin, and the writing affected me so emotionally. I loved that feeling and I want to torture people in the same way. Film is so great because it’s a collaborative project. When you are a writer of a script, you’re often also a producer. The actors and directors take your vision and transform it many different ways, and I love how others can enter the world I created in that way.
Q: What was your experience during Write-to-Publish?
SG: At Write-to-Publish, I met with an acquisitions editor at Tyndale House Publishers and pitched my novel. I wasn’t sure if she would like the idea, but I pitched it anyway, and she ended up loving it! She asked for the first three chapters and now I have a potential internship for this summer. I also got the chance to meet one-on-one with a high profile TV screenwriter for a few hours. That was amazing, because she gave me great feedback on my script, and I didn’t realize she was famous until after our meeting was over!
Q: How do you do research for your ideas?
SG: I have a lot of interests, and I think that is why I can devote a lot of my time to finding solid research to back up what I write. My favorite genre is fantasy and it involves a lot of science and world building. In high school, I hung out with a lot of science-y people, and I have connections and knowledge through working with them. I create my own equations by altering widely known facts about science and think of new ways to push the suspension of belief of readers. I have found that as I have done research for science, I create new characters and plot points because of it.
Q: What is your writing process?
SG: As soon as I write down the idea, I begin to research. Any information I think I need for a story, I get it. Drawing the characters out helps me tremendously. If I can see a character, what they look like and what they wear, I get a better sense of who they are, which makes writing easier. I write scenes when they come to me; the majority of times they aren’t in order, and I compile everything together in an outline. If I have a general outline chapter by chapter (or scene by scene), I can write. I want all the changes and plot alterations out of my head before I start writing.
Q: What helps you write?
SG: I have a Pandora station that is my writing go-to. I can’t write without some kind of sound. In order for me to plot, I have to be moving. I like to take late-night walks around the loop while I listen to my music. Once I sit down to write, I listen to the same songs, and the words flow pretty easily. I have also found that I write faster physically in a notebook than I do on my computer. I try to write for at least one hour a day, every day.
Q: What are your plans for next semester?
SG: I will be across the country in Los Angeles in a film department program. I hope to gain some feedback on my full script and on my writing, and hopefully get some connections for the future. In order to be any kind of good screenwriter, you need a good background in film, and hopefully I’m starting on mine!
What are your plans after graduating from Taylor?
SG: I plan on getting my master’s degree at the London Film School in screenwriting. The program pairs screenwriting with other kinds of filming. The school brings in professional actors and actresses to read and film your script. I have considered getting a Ph.D. at some point as well, just to teach other screenwriters like me.