First time screenwriting

One week into the new year, and I can report that writing is going well.  The biggest work I've done is digging into my first screenplay, an adaptation of my 4-issue webcomics horror story, Devolution, found at www.ComicCritique.com.  Having already written the story, it's made the process easier since I know where the story is going and, more importantly, what the whole point of the story is. 

That hasn't diminished the challenge of writing my first screenplay.  I still have to learn the art of crafting a story that comes across as something that catches an agent, reader, executive, and a studio's interest.  I love the story and its themes, but I must learn how to craft it as best I can as something that someone would be willing to spend money making it and that someone else would be willing to spend money to see it.  In other words, it has to be marketable.

Some may think the zombie horror genre is anything but marketable, that every last drop of originality has been squeezed out of that towel.  I would point to the recently released 6-episode run on AMC of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.  The strong critical accolades were matched by its popular appeal (it had the highest viewership of any original cable television show this season).  And the critical and popular praise was definitely justified on all fronts; from writing to acting to directing, the show was terrific.  On top of this, you have an upcoming movie version of the popular novel World War Z due in 2012, with Marc Forster directing (Quantum of Solace, Stranger than Fiction, Monster's Ball) and Brad Pitt starring.  This might be the perfect time to pitch a low-budget, high-concept zombie flick to a studio looking to make its mark. 

In addition to writing the story, I've dived into a few resources to help me learn how to do this.  Don't have time for film school or online courses, so books and screenplays will have to do.  I picked up Syd Field's The Screenwriter's Workbook as well as Your Screenplay Sucks!: 100 Ways to Make it Great by William Akers.  I also got scripts to the Dawn of the Dead remake and The Matrix.  And I want to get screenplays for Panic Room (which my story somewhat resembles) and 127 Hours, as both do a great job of having a story centered around almost one setting, similar to Devolution.  If anyone knows of any other good books on screenwriting or good scripts, let me know.

I've finished the first draft of Devolution Act I, and now I've mapped out the various sections of Acts II and III.  After watching Panic Room tonight, I'm already realizing what I need to do to change some things in the latter two acts. 

I've worked on some other writing - a little comics work and some slight development toward a new novel - but mostly it's been about the screenplay.  I'm enjoying it immensely and hope I can keep this pace in the coming weeks.  All things considered, it's been a good start to writing in 2011.  I'll keep tapping away and learning as I go.