It’s been more than 30 years since Nora B. Anderson decided she wanted to write screenplays. She took an internship with an independent producer in the 80s, and when he asked her if she wanted to intern in directing, producing, or writing, she didn’t hesitate.
“I had always enjoyed writing and had really enjoyed turning a John Updike short story into a script while I was in college, so I think that direct question cemented it for me,” she told us.
The producer told her to read Syd Field’s “Screenplay,” and helped her hash out her story ideas, and she said, “that really helped – to have direction and independence.”
But life came at Nora quickly, and unpredictably. Writing fulfilled her but didn’t pay the bills. She ran a couple of bookstores, and eventually ended up in a Colorado where she became a full-time caretaker for her disabled husband.
We first met Nora as a contestant in our “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes. Nora told us she wanted to win the chance at getting her bills paid so she would be able to spend more time writing a story that’s stuck with her all these years.
“I found time to develop my animal rights story at night, steal an hour before sleep, work out the structure, read scripts, continually re-think and second-guess the reason I wanted to work on this particular story. But the story wouldn’t leave me alone,” she described. And that’s the one the experts say you should write – the one that keeps you up at night. “Animal” is about a woman who thinks her life is over until she is drawn into avenging animal abuses, and finds out what she is capable of, for good and bad. I hope Nora’s husband’s recent successful treatments put him on the mend soon because I would love to see how this story plays out!
What amazes me most about Nora is the motivation behind her craft. She doesn’t write for notoriety, and heck, it doesn’t even seem like she’s too worried about selling her scripts. She writes screenplays because it’s fulfilling to her, as evidenced when I asked her where she hopes her career takes her.
“I want the freedom to write about whatever story I want without having the mundane interrupt,” she told us. “I haven’t been noticed, except I do get a good reaction from my dialogue and from story ideas when I suss out if a story is worth exploring,” she added. And for now, it appears that she’s happy with that.
No matter the obstacles, Nora’s approach to screenwriting is AIS (ass in seat), she told us. “Sometimes finished is good enough, then leave it alone until you forget about it, then go back and see what stands out, rings true, or glaringly needs to go, from the eyes of a viewer instead of a writer.”
Nora shared a sample of her screenplay “Street Fighting Man” with us, which you can read here. In addition to her animal rights script, she said she has other stories in the works, too.
“I may seem like a nice friendly lady, but I have a couple other story ideas I’ve been working on, too, in my favorite story vein: violent action crime thrillers … still waters run deep,” she concluded.
Ohhh, plot twist!
Courtney Meznarich, Director of Community Outreach