Anthony McCarten on Writing

Two years ago, I met Anthony McCarten and the two of us became fast friends. Anthony is a novelist, author, playwright and screenwriter. His novels include Death of a Superhero, Spinners, The English Harem, and Show of Hands among others. His films include The Theory of Everything, The Darkest Hour, and Bohemian Rhapsody, which at over $930M, set the all-time box office record for a biopic drama.

His latest screenplay, The Two Popes, will be released in November. It was Anthony who convinced me to write Masque of Honor and this weekend, he spent a ton of time coaching me, giving me tremendous support (and criticism) as to where I needed to take the novel. And his advice is worth its weight in gold. “Start with the ending”, “Get in a scene quick and get out of it even faster”, “Set your scene through the dialogue”, “Don’t write what you know, write the emotion”, and “Writing a million-copy seller is all about three things – Structure, Structure, and Structure!”

There was more, of course, and plenty of suggestions (in the inset photo you see his edits on just one page!) to make my first novel more than a break-out novel, but a break-through for me as an author. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time with such a talented artist. My job now is to make him proud and to delight each one of you from the first page to the last!

Sharon Virts Writing Advice, historical fiction