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5 Q&A’s with Christan Van Slyke, 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge winner

Updated: Sep 15, 2019

Born and raised in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Christan Van Slyke is an award winning American Screenwriter.

After having written no less than 13 screenplays this year, Christan participated in FilmCon Award's 24hr Screenwriting Challenge. The rules were simple: 24 hours, up to 5 pages, theme: revenge, protagonist: a dove. In less than 24 hours, Christan wrote "The Dutiful Dove", a fantasy about a show dove who gets revenge on her enchanting gypsy captor.

The Dutiful Dove received the highest rating from the jury, winning the contest.

We invited Christan for 5 Q&A's - here's her story.



Christan, congratulations on winning 24hr Screenwriting Challenge at FilmCon Awards. We enjoyed reading “The Dutiful Dove”! In less than 24 hours, you wrote a beautiful fantasy with a fantastic (and a very satisfying) closure. Let's talk about how you started out. Tell us about your background, what sparked your interest in screenwriting?


I have been in film work since 2008, trying out a variety of production titles while living in Seattle. I worked with different small production companies on shorts and a couple of features. It was after working on the film The Details, in 2009, that I truly realized my home was screenwriting. In 2010, I completed Master Screenwriting Certification Courses through Gotham School for Writers and have been writing ever since. I currently have a feature and four short films in pre-production.


Your winning entry, “The Dutiful Dove”, tells the story of Ellie, a unique show dove who gets revenge on her enchanting gypsy captor, Prohishka (who, we must admit, is one scary antagonist!). Tell us about the challenges in writing a short screenplay in 24 hours. 


The biggest challenge I would say is obviously that time is not on your side! Scripts can take a while to develop, so prioritizing is the biggest factor. This particular script actually came very quickly and easily for me, thankfully. I entered with only four hours until the deadline. So the pressure was quite intense regarding time, and that doesn't help with idea developing. 


It seems like 2019 has already been a busy year for you, with no less than 14 completed screenplays. Tell us about your writing process. Do you write multiple scripts at the same time?  


I do write multiple projects at once! I prefer it that way. Never a full moment and it keeps my creative juices flowing. Usually the writing process starts with an idea that comes to me. I then develop that idea into an outline, add some interesting personalities and continue from there. 




Who are some of your favorite writers, and what do you like about their work? 


M. Night Shyamalan is the reason I started writing many years ago. He has this innate ability or instinct to give the right amount of information at the truly perfect time in his unique stories. His characters are very delicately laid out and developed. I love interesting and deep characters, Shyamalan and Tarantino are great at character writing in my opinion. 


In your opinion, what are the ingredients for creating a good screenplay? Do you have any tips for other first-time screenwriters? 


My opinion of great ingredients are: a unique idea, interesting characters and a conflict to match those characters personalities. Some tips I would like to share are simple: write every idea down somewhere, I keep a phone log. You never know when or how that idea may develop soon. Be patient and prioritize writing time. A good script can take a while to develop!  Start small. I started writing shorts back in 2009 and then worked my way up to feature lengths. Attacking a feature first could be quite daunting. Try out a variety of genres, don't stick to one. I have currently been exploring many genres and am finding out new things about my writing that I really enjoy and others alike.


Follow Christan on Instagram: @christan_screenwriter