For the first time ever, Ladies and Gentlemen, a guest has arrived!
I’ve followed Katherine Gilraine’s blog, Improvisations on Reality, for some time now. She is a published writer, an extremely witty and charming person, and an all-around good person to know. As someone who is, as I like to say, “playing the writing game,” I enjoy her insights into the writing world–and whatever else she enjoys chatting about.
So, without further ado, take it away, Katherine!
So a Novelist Writes a Script…
I know it sounds like a joke, believe you me. *rim-shot*. However, it’s no secret that I’m trying my hand at screenwriting, and I’m in the process of transforming my first novel into a script.
I will not lie: it’s daunting. Of all the forms of writing I tried my hand at so far – journalism, poetry, short stories, novels – screenwriting was the odd man out. I’ve never written a full-scale movie script before, and considering I’ve never taken classes for it, which I may rectify after this experience, I’m walking into the world of movie scripts blind.
But on the other hand, I like the one major effect of transforming my book into a movie script: everything is clearer than ever.
I won’t lie, the opinion of Mages has been mixed. Some people like it, and the nine 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon are testament to the fact that something went right with it. The other reviews, received in private, say that the book is hard to follow, and it’s not really clear what’s going on. The first massive benefit of the script is that whatever was less than clear with the book gets a spotlight (and some key lights) on it with the script form.
The inverse to this is that some of the scenes of the book had to get cut with the script form for the sake of the storyline, and this is something that film-to-book-adaptation fans have been grousing about for quite some time, myself among them (hey, I’ll be the first to admit it). This is the thing: no matter how clearly you picture it in your head at the time you write it, and no matter how great you think it would look on screen, when it’s in the actual script form, it takes away from the story. It’s one thing to butcher a book in the interests of time constraints, as we know, but if you see that a scene, in and of itself, isn’t doing anything to add to what you’re looking to achieve with the screenplay, it has to go. You get a two-hour cap to show your story on screen, and the acronym of K.I.S.S. applies in stereo.
Which, in turn, clarifies the flow of the original story. Where a novel can get clunky and verbose at times, the screenplay flows along much faster.
Now, while I value learning a new art form as much as the next author, there is a major marketing slant to this. People are visual creatures by nature, and we like to see things in front of us – book, movie, what-have-you. The movie market is just as competitive as the book market, even more so than the world of traditional publishing, but it opens up the writer to a whole new audience.
This is the thing, though. Movie scripts and traditionally-published manuscripts go through quite a bit of rigmarole before they get to their final destinations. If a writer ever wants the screenplay to see the light of day, they have to keep pitching it until they’re blue in the face or until someone is actually willing to take a look at it, whichever comes first. Reminds you a bit of querying, doesn’t it? So then this idea occurred to me: considering that I’m the author of both the source material and the screenplay, why not go the self-publish route with the screenplay as well?
I’m not saying hire an indie director, take out a multimillion-dollar loan, and produce it. No bank in their sane mind would approve that sort of endeavor. I am, however, saying that a potential way to market it is to make it available as an e-book. The existence of sites like SimplyScripts.com shows me like nothing else that people love to read screenplays. So why not tap that? TriggerStreet.com is a good hosting place for indie scripts, but what about Amazon? Why not treat the Kindle like a book and distribute it that way? Copyright is still with me. But this taps into the audience of people who like reading scripts above books.
And bam! – a whole new door opens.
For anyone who may be asking just how difficult it is to write a screenplay, I will give you this advice: read them first. SimplyScripts.com is a great site for scripts of known movies, such as Star Wars, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the X-Men films. The best thing you can do before starting work on a movie script is to get acquainted with one. What is the structure of it? Do you know the abbreviations? Can you compare the script to the film to see where and how the shots are marked? That is the first step. The rest is to take the step forward.