Valentine’s Day Greetings

Every year for Valentine’s Day, I write a letter to my wife, Cathy, to articulate all of the many things that I love about her. As you might guess, those letters can get quite lengthy. It’s a tradition that’s important, not just because I want Cathy to know how much I appreciate her, but also because it’s a chance to take time out of my busy life and reflect on the many lucky years we’ve already spent together. This year, after spending time with Cathy and the kids, I’ll be heading off to Patagonia this weekend with a longtime friend.

It’s a change of pace from last year’s Valentine’s Day, which saw the release of Safe Haven. Though I don’t have a film out this February, there is a new DVD collection: the Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition Collection, which compiles Safe HavenThe Lucky OneDear JohnNights in RodantheThe NotebookA Walk to Remember, and Message In A Bottle into what is, I think, a beautiful package. You can buy it in stores or online now.

I hope that you’ll have a Happy Valentine’s Day this year! Whatever your plans might be, and whomever you might spend it with, I hope you’ll remember to celebrate all of your loved-ones—friends, family, and significant others included. 

The Longest Ride Chapters Revealed

In case you've missed it, we have just started revealing the first two chapters from my upcoming novel, The Longest Ride, and those of you that help us fill in the missing words will have a chance to win an advanced copy BEFORE it hits stores September 17th!

For Twitter fans, simply use #TheLongestRide in your tweets and every word from your message will count towards unlocking the hidden words below. Facebook users just need to like or comment. Roll your mouse over each blank space to see how many times that word needs to be used to unlock it. Five lucky Tweets, and five Facebook users will be selected at random as winners. Visit my site to watch and help the reveal unfold

Last, as a thank you to all my mailing list subscribers, both chapters will be sent directly to you once they are unlocked and I invite you to check back to my website on September 9, for information on how to win one of many signed copies of The Longest Ride.

The Last Song Writing Notes

I’m not even sure where to begin with this:  the screenplay or the novel.

I suppose I should start with the screenplay, since that’s where a lot of the elements were worked out.  Between tours (I had three that fall – one for the film Nights in Rodanthe, a U.S. book tour, and a European book tour), I wrote the screenplay, and I suppose most people would like to know whether writing a screenplay is harder than writing a novel.

Not a chance.  Screenplays are easy to write, once you know the rules.  The rules can be found in any screenwriting book and they provide the structure of the film.  After that, the writing is exceedingly easy, if only because you’re allowed to “tell.” In novels, you have to “show.”  Big difference there.  In a script, you write:  “Jim is still angry at his boss as he enters his apartment.”  In a novel, on the other hand, you have to write something like, “The neighbors could hear cursing him through the thin walls of their apartments, but Jim had never cared what those losers thought of him.  All he could think about was the way his boss had talked to him.  As if he were an idiot.  A moron.  An imbecile.  It took everything Jim had not to smash his fist into the man’s nose, and for a long moment, he’d actually seen himself doing it.  As he sat there listening to his piece of crap boss with his ridiculous comb-over droning on and on about deadlines and quotas, he imagined himself balling his hands into a fist and leaping across the desk; he could see his boss’s eyes widen in shock and fright, and as he delivered the blow, he could almost feel the crunch of bone as the nose began gushing blood.  Slamming his door, he needed a drink.  No, screw that.  What he needed was a bottle . . .”

Granted, that wasn’t necessarily very good, but you get the point.  Never once did I say “Jim was angry.”   Showing is ALWAYS harder than telling.  And in a screenplay, telling is all – for space reasons – that you’re really allowed to do.

I finished the first draft of the screenplay in December, and did the first rewrite later that month.  In January, once the director was hired, I did another rewrite.  Both rewrites took about a day or two – I didn’t find them difficult, and with that, my role as a screenwriter was largely concluded.

By then, of course, I’d started on the novel.  As I’d done with The Lucky One, I chose to write the story in limited third-person perspective, and though I’d done it before, it was a bit more difficult in this particular novel than it had been in The Lucky One.  A lot of things were more difficult in fact, and no character more so than Ronnie.  Ronnie, at the beginning of the novel (and film) is angry, moody and sometimes rude – and yet, I had to make her likable at exactly the same time.  No easy task there.  At the same time (and unlike the film), I knew I had to develop Steve (Ronnie’s father) on a much deeper level.  While the novel is centered around Ronnie and Will (both teenagers), I wanted to have a story in which adults could relate.  I wanted Steve to develop into his own character (not simply a supporting character, as in the film), and I wanted to bring an element of faith into the novel.   Thus, Steve needed his own journey, his own compelling back-story, so to speak, and while in the end it served to make the novel richer and more fulfilling, it was occasionally challenging on any number of levels.

Adding to the difficulties was the sheer breath and scope of the novel.   There are a multitude of characters and a multitude of events:  in the end, the novel ended up 20% longer than anything I’ve ever written before.  Still, it reads quickly, and in the end, I think it will be a novel that readers will remember for a long time after the final page is turned.

The Lucky One Writing Notes

I’m not even sure where to begin with this:  the screenplay or the novel.

I suppose I should start with the screenplay, since that’s where a lot of the elements were worked out.  Between tours (I had three that fall – one for the film Nights in Rodanthe, a U.S. book tour, and a European book tour), I wrote the screenplay, and I suppose most people would like to know whether writing a screenplay is harder than writing a novel.

Not a chance.  Screenplays are easy to write, once you know the rules.  The rules can be found in any screenwriting book and they provide the structure of the film.  After that, the writing is exceedingly easy, if only because you’re allowed to “tell.” In novels, you have to “show.”  Big difference there.  In a script, you write:  “Jim is still angry at his boss as he enters his apartment.”  In a novel, on the other hand, you have to write something like, “The neighbors could hear cursing him through the thin walls of their apartments, but Jim had never cared what those losers thought of him.  All he could think about was the way his boss had talked to him.  As if he were an idiot.  A moron.  An imbecile.  It took everything Jim had not to smash his fist into the man’s nose, and for a long moment, he’d actually seen himself doing it.  As he sat there listening to his piece of crap boss with his ridiculous comb-over droning on and on about deadlines and quotas, he imagined himself balling his hands into a fist and leaping across the desk; he could see his boss’s eyes widen in shock and fright, and as he delivered the blow, he could almost feel the crunch of bone as the nose began gushing blood.  Slamming his door, he needed a drink.  No, screw that.  What he needed was a bottle . . .”

Granted, that wasn’t necessarily very good, but you get the point.  Never once did I say “Jim was angry.”   Showing is ALWAYS harder than telling.  And in a screenplay, telling is all – for space reasons – that you’re really allowed to do.

I finished the first draft of the screenplay in December, and did the first rewrite later that month.  In January, once the director was hired, I did another rewrite.  Both rewrites took about a day or two – I didn’t find them difficult, and with that, my role as a screenwriter was largely concluded.

By then, of course, I’d started on the novel.  As I’d done with The Lucky One, I chose to write the story in limited third-person perspective, and though I’d done it before, it was a bit more difficult in this particular novel than it had been in The Lucky One.  A lot of things were more difficult in fact, and no character more so than Ronnie.  Ronnie, at the beginning of the novel (and film) is angry, moody and sometimes rude – and yet, I had to make her likable at exactly the same time.  No easy task there.  At the same time (and unlike the film), I knew I had to develop Steve (Ronnie’s father) on a much deeper level.  While the novel is centered around Ronnie and Will (both teenagers), I wanted to have a story in which adults could relate.  I wanted Steve to develop into his own character (not simply a supporting character, as in the film), and I wanted to bring an element of faith into the novel.   Thus, Steve needed his own journey, his own compelling back-story, so to speak, and while in the end it served to make the novel richer and more fulfilling, it was occasionally challenging on any number of levels.

Adding to the difficulties was the sheer breath and scope of the novel.   There are a multitude of characters and a multitude of events:  in the end, the novel ended up 20% longer than anything I’ve ever written before.  Still, it reads quickly, and in the end, I think it will be a novel that readers will remember for a long time after the final page is turned.

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