Wednesday, March 07, 2012

From Script to Descripting: A Short Story Story

To all my fans, thank you one person. To all my other readers, I'm glad the fourteen of your are patient. To my eight specific critics, whose opinions I nought but respect, you guys are sometimes a bunch of adamant crazies.

One time during a UGWP meeting we were talking about screenplays. We talked about how we'd like to get our books turned into movies and whether we wanted to oversee the screenwriting. The general consensus was yeah, probably. The question then arose whether we'd want to do the whole screenplay ourselves. Now I happen to know that rarely does it occur that one person writes the have-all-end-all screenplay of a movie. Scripts of movies are organic, molded to scenes and days and what the last scene was doing and suchlike. The long and short of the discussion was that we, in general, didn't want to write our whole screenplay ourselves. Consult on it, sure, but we didn't want to be the primary screenwriter. We'd already written the damn story, we didn't want to write it again. I'm sure our opinion will be as organic as the screenwriting process demands, but whatever, we'll burn that bridge when we get there.

During this conversation I raised another point which had been mumbling around my mind for a while. I've been in an outlining education of late, and I've been getting excited about different outlining varieties and tools. One outlining tool I've been thinking about without quite applying it was writing a screenplay version of a story and then adapting the novel from that story. The way I see it, if patience held, then a screenplay would be a good outline. You'd get all the dialog and visuals out of your head, you could line up the story beats, figure out the acts, get to know the characters, without being bogged down with prettiness of prose and poetry in narration. It'd be like writing a whole book without any of the parts of a book that are hard to write. It's a great theory. I proposed it to the UGWP--the Underground Writing Project. Now, the thing about the UGWP is they're a bunch of studied, dedicated cats who have spent a lot of man hours figuring out how to write a good story. Together their accomplishments and expertise equal a doctorate or three and a sizable bookshelf of most excellent prose and poetry. Among them I am something like the novice, and I respect their opinions. Abandon all hope, they said. Why, they queried, would you want to write your novel twice? Why, they said, put yourself through the headache? I pondered for a time about how we expect to scrap our first draft anyway...then dismissed the thought as a passing whimsy of whimsy.

Lately, I have revisited ye olde preposterous concept, in ze form of necessary adventures in coworking. A script proposal I wrote has been accepted by Cellar Door Anthology--kudos for me. Naturally, I required a goodly artist to be drawering the comic book, for I am a most useless artist. As a point of immense fortuity, the lovely lass who has been so good as to grace me with her good will for a time is an excellent artist. My lady has a style close to mine as well. Having asked her to draw the comic book, and having finished a tolerably contentable script for it, we began to realize that my script writing skills leave a great deal to be required. Though my lass has an excellent imagination for visuals, she found my script hard to follow. I wrote it as a panel-by-panel recap of the story as I saw it, because the comic book scripts I've seen are written like that. She couldn't follow it, though. We began our conversation about the story with me saying I'd trust her to do good visuals of the story. But she couldn't visualize my script. However, she's had good luck envisioning other stories I've written, taken from the prose. In reply to her, I adapted the script for the comic book to a short story. I expected it to take me a while, but in two afternoons I did all of it but the last scene. The process of copying and pasting the dialog I wrote and filling in the description felt natural, intuitive. I even had a reasonably original voice for it, because I already knew from the beginning what I wanted the end to say. I found that I adapted the dialog a tiny bit, but not a great deal.

It went well, felt good. The result pleases me. I haven't shown it to anyone but my lass yet, but I hope my eye has been trained well enough that I can give an okay appraisal of my stuff. I'm not sure if the process could be easily repeated for a longer work. I have definitely decided that it has some kind of merit. I will not argue with the opinion of the UGWP that it probably ought to be hesitated before decided upon, but I have now conducted one successful experiment of the process. We shall see what future it has.

This song was nearly picked at random. I like it anyway:


The One and Only John said...

I honestly don't remember talking about this at all. Find your own way, what will work for you may not work for others. It's only a matter of time, but it's got to be time you put into it.

Rumble, young man, rumble.

Oliver Twisty said...


Jenny Maloney said...

I remember said conversation. And, to paraphrase John, you've gotta do what you've gotta do. Anything that works is fair game.

Ready to read. =)