Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Based on the Novel ...

I woke up surprisingly early this morning (for me) and decided to go with it instead of rolling over and going back to sleep. Now the morning is unusually cool and refreshing, so I have windows open.

The contract wasn't nearly as scary as I feared. For one thing, there were four copies of the contract in the package, so the package was a lot more daunting than the contents turned out to be. I already knew about the more alarming terms. Some of the mildly alarming things I didn't know about weren't too terribly surprising. For instance, I can't sue the studio if they make the Worst Movie Ever out of my book and I think the movie is so bad it defames my book and me as a writer. If that clause weren't in option contracts, Hollywood would either be bankrupt or owned outright by Stephen King or Michael Crichton (yes, they've both had really good movies made from their books, but they've also had some utter stinkers).

Most of the surprises were pleasant ones. There's a lot of contract language specifying exactly how I would be credited in the movie itself and in advertising (in any ad where the screenwriter is credited, except for ads mentioning or promoting specific award nominations. So they can do ads promoting the screenwriter for an Oscar without mentioning me, and they can do ads congratulating the screenwriter for the Oscar nomination or promoting the movie because of its Oscar-nominated screenplay without mentioning me). I think that was the first time I've seen "based on the novel by Shanna Swendson" in print. I actually got a bit teary-eyed. And there's even a clause in the contract about how I and a guest will be invited to the east or west coast celebrity premiere, with first-class transportation provided by the studio. Great. Now I have to come up with a date for my own movie premiere. While I normally ignore the "and guest" on invitations and go solo as long as it's not an invitation to Noah's Ark, I probably won't know a soul there, so I'll need someone. I've heard Meg Cabot talk about her experiences at the premiere of The Princess Diaries, and she was pretty big already by that point. I'd probably blend into the scenery and be utterly ignored. Yes, I know this is all totally hypothetical and based on the remote possibility that a movie might get made, but given my inability to find dates (especially ones I'd actually want to go with), I might need to start working on that now. Or I'll make my parents draw straws over who gets to go with me.

I just have a few questions I want my agent to clarify before I sign, and then I'll have to find a notary. It looks like the postal center/shipping place next to the library has notary services, and then maybe I can celebrate after shipping off the contract by going to the library cafe and having one of their awesome frozen raspberry lemonades and a pastry.

I got my box of writing books from Amazon yesterday, and I'm looking forward to digging into them. I'm in the planning stages of a book, so that gives me a case study to use as I work my way through the books. One tidbit I've already gleaned from the quick skimming I've done: It's not so much about conveying the characters' emotions as it is about triggering the readers' emotions. That's common sense, but I'd never thought of it quite that way. In most cases, it's more or less the same thing. If your character is sad, you want the reader to feel bad for her. If the character is scared, the reader should be, too. But there are times when you want the reader to feel something different. In an action story, your intrepid hero may be totally calm in a crisis, but you want the reader to feel incredibly tense. And sometimes the moments that are laugh-out-loud funny to the reader are embarrassing and awkward for the character.

Yesterday I was all ready to rant about how it's just the middle of July and I'm already seeing all these ads about fall on TV. It's not fair to taunt me with the idea of fall in the middle of July. That's just cruel. And then I realized that I was watching my tapes of the latest season of The Office, and I guess I got distracted (crossword puzzle) and forgot to forward through the commercials, so I was watching commercials from last September. Which was fall. Which would explain the "new fall sweaters are here" and "take your fall vacation here" ads. It was the ads for The Bionic Woman and the "Friday Night Lights is now on Friday!" ads that finally clued me in.

Finally, I've been lucky (or maybe obscure) enough not to have to deal with a lot of spam blog comments. When I get them, they all seem to be for the same posts. For the longest time, it was a post from more than a year ago that kept getting them. Now they're showing up for a post from last week. Most of them are utterly nonsensical and don't even point to or promote anything, so I don't see what the point is, and there's nothing unique to that post that would give any particular search terms that would trigger a spambot. It remains a mystery.

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