Thursday, October 25, 2012
I’m 91 pages into my screenplay now, which as I’ve alluded to before is close to 91 minutes on video. Taking a 347 page novel and converting it into much less than half that has many obstacles to overcome in the original plot layout. I discovered the only surviving coherency to the original plot rests in blending the most important characters with a timeline of events that achieve the original novel’s effect. Some lines and events don’t make the cut.
One of the important elements I see in screenplay writing versus novel writing is action. Action in a screenplay element has to be visualized in my head as a movie sequence. All the words meant for scenery and feelings have to be relegated to the actors and director. Sure, we still have the dialogue, coupled with some direction for the camera and expressions, to wring what we want from the scene – but the visual outcome must work to move the scenes along.
In other words, writing action elements in the screenplay amounts to picturing yourself as a director guiding stuntmen or actors through a scene. It’s not an easy transition, because that’s where the novel writer departs, leaving only action. The finish is near, and then I’ll see if anything comes of it. I did find out by sending out that shorter screenplay to people advertising for exactly what I wrote that they don’t even bother sending you a form rejection. They just ignore you. Pretty familiar ground. :)That’s it from screenplay land.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Very good news on the screenplay front – I’m already fifty-one pages into my conversion of HARD CASE to movie screenplay form, complete with camera shot direction. I also have the rest of the book worked out as far as cuts and splices to get it in under 120 pages, which is a two hour movie. I’m getting the hang of it.
I even went so far as to tweet Jason Momoa, letting him know about the project, because he would be perfect as John Harding. Naturally, I don’t expect him to sign me up. It’s just that what the heck is Twitter for if you can’t throw a line out with some bait on the hook for networking purposes? I’m working on the rest of my cast too in my head. This is the way writing can get exciting. In my seventh decade, exciting is a good thing. Anyway, I’m moving my completion date for the screenplay up to early November, way ahead of schedule.
I’m thinking of immediately starting on the first book of my YA trilogy, DEMON, as my next screenplay conversion, because I have a three book series already completed and edited. This is sure more positive than hoping for agents, publishers, and ‘Fifty Shade’ lightning strikes. I will report if something hangs up the screenplay conversion. So far, it’s paying attention to the camera shots that I’ve had the most difficulty in remembering. That can be caught up in the editing phase though. That’s it from screenplay land. :)
Sunday, October 14, 2012
I promised to report on my screenwriting endeavor. It began in earnest once I finished editing the third book in my YA trilogy, and finished the release of LANCELOT. The book I picked to convert is my novel HARD CASE. John Harding seemed like the perfect on screen type for a movie, and I hoped I’d be able to find enough to leave out of the script to do the conversion. From my research into conversions, I found that much of what makes a novel work would put an audience to sleep in a movie theater. During the course of any novel I write and edit, I do a polished synopsis of each individual chapter. That is helping immensely in determining how to make the script flow and transition from scene to scene.
The basic parameter, according to most screenplay writing sites and software guides, is each page of a screenplay represents one minute on screen. When you’ve finished a page of script, this parameter does make sense, and seems to be a pretty solid guideline. Each character created becomes part of the screenplay, thanks to Final Draft’s structure. When changing from character to character in a dialogue format, screenplay software keeps track, and provides easy shifts from character to character with additional parenthetical inserts for descriptive purposes (think whispers, sighs, sips coffee, etc.). The elements of the script are: action, character, parenthetical, dialogue, transition, scene heading, shot, cast list, and general. Not all are used in every scene, of course, but they are easily available.
When using a transition to shift from a restaurant to a car or another place, the screenwriting software expects you to create another scene. In a novel, each chapter may have numerous transitions from one place to another, so trying to use a chapter as your scene guide doesn’t work out. A shot indicates camera angle, and is easily the most forgotten but necessary element. It must be considered in each interaction if there are to be special instructions for a focal point such as a key part of the scene that needs to be pointed out. An example would be a murder scene as in The Mentalist when Jane discovers something out of the ordinary on a victim’s body. The ‘shot’ element would dictate the camera focus on whatever Jane found.
Anyway, I have twenty pages of script written, and it’s like pulling teeth with a pair of pliers, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it. The only excitement so far is that I have created twenty minutes of screen time for my character John Harding and his cast. I shall report if I’m having trouble keeping HARD CASE the movie from turning into a six hour epic. Just as agents won’t look at a novel over 90,000 words from a newbie author as a rule, anything over 90 pages of script gets into epic territory for a newbie screenwriter. I’m hoping to bring in HARD CASE the movie at under a 120 pages. I hope. That’s it from screenplay writing land, my new ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ reality. :)
Thursday, October 11, 2012
I finally have LANCELOT rights back with a new cover from my friend, William Cook. I signed it up in Kindle Direct Publishing so Amazon Prime members get it for free, and it remains exclusive to Amazon under their terms. I also returned the manuscript to the way it was when I wrote it before adding the erotic touch to it for publishing with Carnal Desires Publishing. I thought I needed a real publishing credit, but it didn’t help much, even in tandem with COLD BLOODED being published by Wild Child Publishing. Anyway, here’s the short marketing blurb I’m using.
Ever wonder what would happen in a paranormal world if instead of dying, Lancelot buried his King after the disastrous battle with Modred at Camlann, and then accepted a thousand year quest of redemption to make things right with his friend? One thing’s for sure, Lancelot vows the legend will be much different this time around. In a mystical future coveted by shape-shifters, demons, vampires, and mages, King Arthur’s First Knight demonstrates to all what a millennium of a warrior’s life forges in the deadliest knight who ever lived. They find out quickly Lancelot will remake the legend with them or over their corpses.
And the longer blurb for Amazon:
Lancelot entombs his King after the final battle at Camlann. He returns Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake, Vivian, his mentor and lover. Given a mission to live on until Arthur returns in the future, Lancelot battles his way through the centuries in many guises. Finally drawn together with a familiar cast, Lancelot faces the dawning of a new Camelot he vows will have a different outcome.
Vivian curses all when Merlin restores her memories a thousand years in the future. Born again and having made what she now considers an idiotic bargain in rejoining Lancelot at the cost of heaven , Vivian reluctantly bows to her fate. Lancelot gives her ardent solace while fighting to rewrite legend in order to regain a friend in Arthur. In rejecting the Arthurian script, Lancelot renews old friendships and faces an ancient demon, hell bent on capturing Excalibur while plunging the earth into chaos. Lancelot wins Vivian’s trust and love again, changing her from an inconsolable burden into a fearsome ally for his final quest.
For his part, the now reborn Arthur in an eight-year-old boy’s body has this to say about his role in a thousand year old legend: “You three need to lighten up. I have a genius IQ, and now I’m teamed up with an Alzheimer patient, a troll, and a beat-up hooker, all of whom screwed me a thousand years ago. Cut me some slack!”