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Wade McDonald

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Wade about ten years ago, as he was and still is, my husband’s best friend (and the Best Man in our wedding).  His innate gift of writing screenplays, along with producing and directing his own movies, truly amazes me.  Wade has motivated, inspired and helped me along the way on my own writing journey and I couldn’t have done it without him.  I am honored to know him and be his friend.

When did you start writing?  I’ve always had a mild obsession with the written word. As an “indoor kid” I had my nose in a book from the age of about 4. I was reading full young adult novels by 1st grade, and I got into Science Fiction pretty hard by 3rd grade — I read Dune by Frank Herbert before I knew about sex — it actually prompted “the talk” from my dad. The reading really just lead straight toward writing, though I played around with short stories through high school, it wasn’t until college that I started writing in earnest, with my first couple screenplays.

You wrote a screenplay, can you tell us a little bit about it?  Hold Your Peace (originally titled The Best Man) is actually my fourth screenplay. It’s the story of Aiden, a man who’s asked to be the best man in his ex-boyfriend’s gay wedding. Still hung up on his ex, he hasn’t been able to have a functional relationship with anyone besides his long time roommate Janice; Consequently, he has a great deal of trouble finding a date to the event. I won’t spoil too much more, but let’s just say that hilarity ensues a bit, though it definitely has some drama in there too.

How long did it take you to write “Hold Your Peace,” formally known as “The Best Man?”  I wrote the first draft in 2005 as one of several I was attempting to pitch and sell to a local production company in 2006. It actually only took me a month of working 4-5 hours a day on it to finish the initial draft. A few months later I worked on it a bit, writing it over again as a second and third draft before pitching it. It ended up being a pass, but I shelved it intending to come back and work on it later; Later ended up being 2009 when I rewrote it a few more times while my cinematography business (my day job) was having a couple slow months. By the time I had decided to make it in February 2010, I was on draft six. I did one last set of small revisions before we shot it, draft 6.5 if you will. So, all in all, probably about 5 years off and on.

Congratulations on making it into a movie!  How does it feel to have your screenplay come to life?  It’s a neat feeling, but as a film is a team effort it’s complex. When you’re writing, you have a clear idea of a character — how they look, how they talk and how they say particular bits of dialogue — but when you’re making it into a film it becomes this living, breathing thing that grows and changes on its own. Characters that existed only on the page become Roles — a combination of the written word and an Actor’s interpretation. It’s the strangest and most wonderful feeling in the world to have an actor saying your words in a way that’s completely different from what you had imagined — and it has a new meaning you didn’t intend but is there nonetheless. They become people with more complexity than you had on the page. The hard part is just letting go and allowing it to happen — giving up that idealized image in your head — but it’s the most amazing thing when you do. You end up with something quite magical — a professor I had in college (who will remain nameless) once said, “It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” and I’m inclined to agree!

What motivates you?  Ego, I suppose! Like most writers I think I just have a need to express myself, to tell the stories swimming around in my head. Writing — creating — to me is a basic need, like breathing or eating. I’m always walking around making up situations and stories in my head and it’s good to get them out once in a while.

How do you deal with writer’s block?  The only way I can write and not get frustrated is to have more than one writing project going at any given time. If one gets blocked, I just switch gears and work on the other — though I admit I’ve had three or four at a time before out of necessity. The trick is to have different types of projects going at the same time. Sometimes you’re in a drama kinda’ mood, sometimes you’re just in a witty mood and feel like comedy. Even within a genre, there are different types of narratives that appeal to different writing moods.

Which do you like writing better, screenplays or novels?  Ultimately my goal is to write screenplays since they’re more related to what I do for a living and I’d like to continue to make films. However I have to say that nothing has made me long for the chance to write a novel than writing screenplays. On one side, screenplays are easier because they’re so limited — it’s mostly dialogue with a little action to describe what the audience sees or hears. There’s nothing more to it than that.  The other side is that you never really get the opportunity (if you’re doing it right, at least) to really describe in-depth what you see in your mind’s eye. You don’t have the sense of control where you can really investigate a story like you can in real prose.

What are your writing goals?  Whenever I sit down to write, I set myself a number of pages (usually 7-10 — but remember they’re screenplays!) that I want to accomplish before I stop for the day. I find that forcing myself to accomplish a particular amount usually helps me to follow through and I’ll usually be able to, especially if I switch between a couple projects.

On a grander scale my goals for my writing are to investigate people, their motivations for doing things and how they respond to situations out of the scope of the ordinary. I’d love to have some greater social comment if I can get away with it, but at its core, it’s people that interest me.

What are you working on now?  I’m writing a screenplay (more drama, less comedy) and a science fiction novel that i’ve been putting around for a few years. I may start a second screenplay because I’m starting to have more blocks with the screenplay I’m working on now.

Dead or alive, name three writers who you’d invite over for dinner?  

Stephen Fry, for his famous wit.

Russel T Davies, a british television writer responsible for Queer As Folk and the new Doctor Who.

Issac Asimov, because his books were the first to really inspire me to think about the world around me in new and different ways.

How would you spend your perfect day?  On vacation near a body of water with my boyfriend, a good book, my laptop, a high-speed internet connection, my friends and a wide selection of alcoholic beverages.

Do you have any advice for a beginning writer?  Just to write. It’s so easy to get caught up thinking you’re not good enough or that you’re never going to make a living at it. We all have bouts of self-doubt now and again. Keep at it and it doesn’t matter if you write crap the first time — there’s always another draft if you want it. Just keep writing as much as you can stand — and then some. Also, find someone to bounce ideas off of. It doesn’t have to be another writer, just someone you can tell about your plots and have them ask questions… if you have a problem it can really help you to see a solution you’ve probably had all along but hadn’t realized.

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