About Gerald DiPego
Gerald (Jerry) DiPego began his successful writing career as a script doctor. He had been working as a journalist and writing corporate and educational films in Chicago, when he decided to write a feature script and try his luck.
He and his first wife, along with their son, drove to Hollywood in a VW Bug loaded up with possessions. It was make it or break it time. While first in Los Angeles, DiPego scraped by on writing industrial films and commercials, and showed his screenplay to everyone he met. With his savings nearly depleted, he finally got a call from a producer who liked his screenplay and hired him to do a few rewrites on other scripts.
For DiPego, who says that a film is the closest thing to a human dream one can experience, his dream of becoming a full-time writer was becoming a reality. After a few script rewrites, he began getting assignments to develop a script from a magazine article or adapt a book or come up with ideas of his own, and he found himself at the beginning of a career.
As a kid, DiPego was pretty much a loner with a wildly active imagination. He enjoyed solitude and still does to this day. Living in the Santa Ynez Valley of California affords him the opportunity to connect with locals and devote time to a local arts outreach program. When not sitting at his writing desk, he enjoys hiking the mountainous regions of Italy and visiting relatives in Lucca where his father’s family has its roots. In the past, he has joined over twenty horse-packing trips in the U.S., Canada, and Ireland.
Today, Gerald DiPego has more than thirty screenplays to his name, including Sharky’s Machine, Message in a Bottle, Phenomenon, The Forgotten, and Words and Pictures. His novels (there are five) include thrillers and the coming-of-age story, Cheevey, which he considers his best novel. Last year his play “154 and Paradise” was produced at Santa Barbara’s Center Stage.
Oh, and that first script? As a sample of his work, it began his career. It has been twice optioned. Through it he has met Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, and Paul Newman (whom he later worked with). Currently a Canadian company is interested and seeking funding. “Script’s never die,” DiPego says, “they just wait.”
Ten Writing Tips By Gerald DiPego
Learned in the Trenches
- Push yourself to make your language new. Put it together in a fresh and personal way. Avoid clichés like the plague – even that one.
- Know your important characters as well as you know your friends, before you ever put them on the page--how they look and speak and how they enter a room.
- You can’t write (for instance) a good cop story because you’ve seen and read good cop stories. Meet some cops. Take them to dinner. Listen. And do some ride-alongs. See the real world through the eyes of your characters.
- Mix your colors. Black and white are not enough, aren’t real. There may be something endearing in the worst of us, something shameful in the best of us.
- Experience the world, even if it’s just a walk to Starbucks. Experience the amazing parade of individual lives, bits of nature, the weather, the sounds. Your next story may be walking by you – just the way she looks and looks away sets you thinking, writing in your head.
- Scrap that very clever line you’re so happy with if, in truth, the character you’ve shaped would never say that. Stay true.
- Write your story so that the reader or audience wants to take the journey with your main characters, wants to live it, wants to care – and not just sit back and watch.
- Ingenious tricks of plot are fine. We enjoy surprises, but don’t overlook the inside story, the emotions. Your story lives or dies there.
- Can a story even exist without conflict? Know what’s at stake, every minute.
- Write as you wish. It’s your story. Move away from convention. Throw normal away if you want. Just, please, remember to engage our feelings somehow, and we will come along.
Gerald DiPego Reads Fighting
This five minute clip was recorded at Tales from the Tavern in Santa Ynez, California in 2010.