Interview with Alan H. Zatkow

What do your fans mean to you?
It's important to me, that people reading my books for information absolutely get what they came for. I try to create systems that not only relate good quality information, but that are practical to implement, and easy to understand no matter if you are a beginner or expert, or somewhere in between.

I am known as being as passionate about teaching as I am about writing. So when someone takes the information in my book and uses it to further his or her own career, that is really satisfying.
What are you working on next?
A few projects. I am writing a second non-fiction book called How to Write Electrifying Scenes, which focuses on how to craft individual scenes at their highest level for both plot movement, emotion-generation, and professionalism.

I'm also working on an action/comedy screenplay and an original television pilot.
Who are your favorite authors?
In non-fiction for screenwriting it is Syd Field and Blake Snyder. But my fiction inspirations have always been Agatha Christie and Douglas Adams. People always tell me that Christie and Adams don't go together. They do when I'm writing!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, I'm a happy guy in general, so the adventure of what might happen on this particular day gets me out of bed. I like my friends and family, and of course, I'm inspired to get back to the keyboard and add pages onto my current projects.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like having a diverse lifestyle. It's important to stay healthy so I exercise every day by riding a bike or walking, often in a swimming pool which adds both friction and comfort. But I am an avid video game player and I watch and study movies and television shows, which one might argue is a form of writing. But I am not a shut-in. I have a lot of friends in NYC in the sketch-comedy, stand-up comedy, and theatrical business and I love going to their shows and spending time with them afterwards.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly just by browsing through subjects that interest me. Being a new ebook writer myself, I am being cognizant of how it all works and I want to support the works of other ebook authors. When someone succeeds, it teaches me a lot about how I can succeed as an ebook author.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was called "Zeke Thompson Saves the Earth." I know this because I actually have a physical copy in storage. It's a wacky, humorous, Flash Gordonesque adventure. I'm proud of it not because it's any good -- it isn't -- but because I wasn't afraid to use my imagination, even at a young age. My imagination has gotten me pretty far in life and in my career.
What is your writing process?
Now that's a sixteen hour discussion right there, or another ebook. But I like to get up in the morning and just hit the keyboard. When you are fresh you get pages and also your subconscious has been working on problems all night, so if you get right to the keyboard whatever your brain has secretly been working on, that stuff just starts to pour out.

I take breaks throughout the day but try and get back to the keyboard at least twice and sometimes up to four times. Then there are days when you are on such a hot streak, you don't want to take breaks at all. Those days are great, wish all days were like that. But for screenwriting and teleplay writing I'd say I get 50 polished pages a week. As it takes 3 re-writes to get to that polished stage, I'd say I was hitting about 150 pages a week. It's important to be on that fast pace so that even between sub-contracted, professional projects, I don't lose my speed and stamina that are so important to my career.

I should mention that I am huge on the outline process. I outline 20 pages at a time, and then I go write. That allows me the structure of a quality map so that I am not confusing the conceptual phase of writing with the actual phase. People get that wrong, and separate them and then waste time and energy staring at an empty screen or page. I sit somewhere with a notebook and conceptualize scenes, and write a few sentences per scene to remind myself of what it is all about. I like to do that outside in a park, or in a coffee shop, or in my living room easy chair. Anywhere but in my office where my computer is. I want to really separate the conceptual phase and the actual phase.

When I have 20 pages of outlined scenes, I get to the computer and work my craft. I can write the scenes in any order since I know where they are going to fit, so I look at my list and decide to write whatever looks the most fun or interesting to me in that moment. When all of the scenes from my outline are written, I go back in and edit each scene to make it the best scene I can -- what I deem an "electrifying scene" and then I am ready to go back to the conceptual phase for the next 20 pages, and start the process again.

That really works for me and makes the whole thing fun for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't know about the first story I ever read. I do know that I was influenced as a youth by "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" a ton! That was the first book I remember reading that touched a real chord with me, that made me want to also write. It was so vibrant and vivid and different. The author really stretches the imagination and there are a lot of things in that story that are so clever, and which are done so well.

Maybe that's why with my own stories I reach for what is different and unique and new in my fiction writing.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm not an artist, so I think its important that I consult a professional who can take care of that for me. It's going to cost some money, but not as much as if I try and do the thing myself and have an awful cover that will turn people away.

I think covers should be simple though. If it is too busy your book title will get lost and then browsers won't be able to find or identify it. But yeah, a professional artist is someone who should be a part of the process, definitely. I wouldn't want someone to try and write a screenplay or teleplay without bringing me into the process, so turning that logic around doing a cover without a professional artist involved would be silly.
What do you read for pleasure?
Murder mysteries, mostly. I like brain teasers and there's nothing better than a good mystery to keep your senses sharp and your brain battle-tested.

But I also like everything from super hero stories to science fiction. Anything that stretches the imagination and makes me think "Oh Wow that's really clever. I am so jealous I didn't think of that plot or that idea first!" That's the kind of thing that really gets me motivated to get back to my own keyboard and start typing away.

I'm currently really enjoying the Game of Thrones series. I haven't watched any of it on television yet. A few friends told me to read the books first, then watch the HBO series, so that's what I am doing. I'm on the third book at the moment. It really is quite excellent.
Published 2013-10-21.
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Books by This Author

The Show Bible for TV Pitching
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 35,880. Language: English. Published: September 20, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Television, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Entertainment industry
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
If you want to pitch your original television show or web series to entertainment industry professionals - from producers and show runners to agents and directors, and especially to network executives -- you need a Show Bible. Learn how to craft an exciting read that will get you meetings, put a professional team together, and understand how networks negotiate so you are fully prepared to win.