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Irvine Man to Publish Directory of Writers' Available Works

April 22, 1989|DENNIS McLELLAN | Times Staff Writer and

The problem with Hollywood, Orange Coast College writing instructor Raymond Obstfeld says, is that nobody has the time to read.

"It's always the same story," says the author of nearly 30 novels. "They want a one-page synopsis. Nobody wants to read the books."

The same goes for the 25,000 screenplays that are registered with Writers Guild of America (West) each year. As a teacher who has read "a ton" of student manuscripts, Obstfeld said he is sympathetic with the problem.

The Irvine writer, who has had five screenplays optioned by Hollywood producers over the years, thinks he has a solution that will benefit both writers and producers.

It is called the Official Directory of Available Scripts, Treatments, Novels, Plays and Stories, a large-format quarterly publication that will feature one-page synopses of manuscripts available for purchase or optioning by film producers.

Obstfeld's Windmill Press will publish the first directory in July.

The directory will be distributed free of charge to more than 900 studio executives and independent producers in Los Angeles and New York.

The idea, according to Obstfeld, is to allow producers to tell by reading the synopsis whether they would be interested in the project. If so, they can then call the writer or the writer's agent to request the full manuscript. Obstfeld said he got the idea for the service after his own agent kept "bugging" him for years to do one-page synopses of all his novels.

Each synopsis will include a summary of the plot and a description of each major character, in addition to listing the length, genre, major settings and time period. It also will include the author's credits and, if applicable, his literary representative.

The cost to a writer for a one-page synopsis is $100. For an additional $75 fee, Obstfeld will include a full-page author profile. And for writers who find it too difficult to encapsulate their screenplay or book manuscript, he will write the entire synopsis for an additional $100.

"They'll get their exposure of their writing project to people who are in a position to actually do something about it whereas to actually reach those people on their own may take much longer," Obstfeld said. "The usual process without this is to find an agent first, which is just as hard, or harder, than finding an actual producer.

"Is it not worth $100 to get your idea out to the people who have the power to move on it?"

Obstfeld, who has been sending brochures about the directory to writing groups and college and university writing programs, said nearly 50 writers from around the country already have signed up for the service,

"This is just an effort to get some control over what happens," he said. "We are not acting as an agent. We don't get a cut. We just do the editorial service. Whatever representative they list with us, that's who gets called."

For information, call Windmill Press at (714) 786-7062.

Romance Writers: Author Michalann Perry of Dallas will conduct a workshop on "How to Write A Romance and Sell It" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Fullerton Public Library, 353 W. Commonwealth Ave. Fee: $10. The author, whose latest book is "Savage Rouge," has written seven romance novels and is contracted to write three more for Zebra.

Writer's Conference: Cal State Long Beach will conduct its second annual Writer's Conference next weekend at the Hyatt Regency, 200 S. Pine Ave., Long Beach. The conference will feature top editors, agents and writing professionals whose topics will include: "The Nonfiction Book from Conception to Publication," "Breaking Into Screen Writing for Movies and TV," "Writing the Mystery Novel" and "The Realities of Making a Book a Best Seller." The fee for the 2-day workshop, including lunches, is $235. To register, call University Extension at (714) 840-0010 or (213) 985-5561.

Round Table West: William Christopher, who gained note as Father Mulcahy on TV's "MASH," and his wife, Barbara, will discuss "Mixed Blessings," their new book about their autistic son, at the Round Table West meeting at noon Thursday at the Balboa Bay Club. The Christophers will be joined on the podium by humorist Orson Bean, who will discuss his autobiography, "Too Much Is Not Enough," and novelist Ciji Ware, whose new book is titled "Island of the Swans." Tickets are $25. For reservations, call (714) 548-1447.

Authors Honored: The UC Irvine Friends of the Library on Sunday will honor at the Irvine Marriott more than 50 Orange County authors whose works were published in 1988. Tickets: $25 each. For reservations, call the Friends of the Library office at (714) 856-5300. Guest speaker for the 24th annual recognition event will be Sir Eldon Griffiths, a member of the British Parliament who is visiting UCI this spring as a regents professor in social ecology. Griffiths has been a correspondent for Time and Life magazines.

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