Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Screen vs. Page

I think I'll be returning to my regular blogging schedule, with features like the writing posts and the series commentary, next week. Until then, I'm taking an extra-long Labor Day weekend, starting tomorrow.

I'm still working on translating that script into a novella, and as I do so, I'm liking the script more and more, enough so that I'm having second thoughts about this novella thing. It's iffy in that format, largely because of genre -- it's not really romantic enough to be a "romance," since it's more about the heroine's career choices, though there is a romantic subplot. There is a paranormal element, but it's pretty slight. I guess it might be classified as magical realism chick lit, but I don't know how well that would do and if it would lead readers to my other work.

On the other hand, having watched a lot of Hallmark movies lately, I think it's really perfect for them. For one thing, it is focused on the career and life choices issue, which has been the center of most of their movies I've watched lately. The paranormal element is slight and exists mostly to highlight that life choices dilemma. There's a Mr. Right vs. Mr. Wrong romantic dilemma, but the romance part is mostly friendship with a spark up to the end, which is the way they tend to play these things. One of the things the heroine does, and part of her life choices/career dilemma, is sing with an a capella group that's currently doing a lot of holiday gigs as madrigal singers or Victorian carolers but that has broader ambitions, and that's really topical with the success of groups like Pentatonix and movies like Pitch Perfect. That lead role would be good for one of those starlets who also has musical ambitions, like those who've aged out of the Disney sitcoms and Radio Disney stuff but haven't broken out in adult roles. Since most of the music involved in the story is Christmas carols, it's public domain, so the music expense would be in the arrangements. As a bonus, depending on how the movie is marketed, there's a potential for getting some singles and airplay out of it.

I just don't know where to go with it from here. I brought it up with my agent, but didn't follow through on getting anything from her about any contacts she has for selling something like that. She works more with people who rep books to be adapted, and I think that's what she thought I was talking about, that I'd written something that might sell for that kind of movie.

But I'm going to keep going on the novella because it's an interesting exercise that's teaching me a lot about what I can take from the screenwriting process and use in my novels. For one thing, the dialogue in the script really seems to zing, and that may have something to do with writing it in script form, where you can really see how it flows together without the narrative. I may try writing any big conversation scenes for books in screenplay form until I get the dialogue right, and then transfer that to prose.

For another, while being able to summarize is a great tool for a novelist, maybe I rely on it too much. By that, what I mean is that a novelist can set up a scene and bring in all the characters, then skip over the boring or repetitive parts by saying things like, "We told him about our plan" or "We told him what happened," or you can have the viewpoint character daydreaming and not listening to what's said until you get to the part you want to dramatize again. You can't do that in a script. Once you start a scene, you're stuck with the whole scene, so you find ways of working around that like starting at the point where the important stuff happens -- the reaction to the plan or the news of what happened, without showing it being told -- or creating a scene that's only about the thing you want to say. I'm bad about doing things in meetings (since I write a lot about the office), and then I rely on being able to skim past most of the meeting with a line or two of narrative. But maybe I should think as though I'm writing a script sometimes and come up with a more dynamic way of getting the outcome I want.

I should probably try writing another script or two before I look into doing more about pursuing that, just to make sure it's something I can do and want to do and so I have something else in case I get a "can we see something else?" response.

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