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From Novelist to Screenwriter…Is that even possible?
 

     Fans of Blood and Magnolias have been hounding me to get the story made into a movie. After seeing people crying over the ending and having them angry with me because they got caught reading the story at work, or were late to work because they stayed up too late trying to read just one more chapter, I put the idea under consideration.

     Before I haphazardly went in search of someone to convert the book into a movie, I decided I might take a ‘whack’ at it myself. I did write one script based on a book that isn’t yet published back in I can’t remember when (yes, I am working on it), so I had a general idea of the structure. However, I wanted to understand what makes a good script and the development process.

     So, I started looking into screenwriting classes. Some instructors told me flat out not to waste my time or theirs (are you really a teacher?). “It isn’t possible. The quantum leap from writing novels to scripts cannot be achieved?” Heard this in one form or another, repeatedly. “It is a whole other way of writing. You have to think differently.” With a novel, you have about 400 pages to fill with description, dialogue, feelings, and emotions. With a script, you have between 90 and 130 pages, but 100-120 is more the current bent, and the dialogue must do triple duty in conveying not only the words but the feeling and emotion as well. And, if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, you have an average of about three lines to set the scene.

     Well, those who know me understand that telling me something is impossible or that I can’t do it is just a big fat dare!

     I identified what looked like a good online screenwriting class and asked the question, again. "Is it true if you write novels you can't write scripts?" I got an answer I could live with. "You can do anything..." if you are willing to put in the work. It won't be easy, and you might not succeed. Failure is just another word for learning so what the heck, I took the leap.

     Eight months later, I am here to tell you it IS possible. At the beginning of the class, I was ‘lost in space’ with terminology and tech and trying to figure out where to go with my ideas. I started with one of my novels, thinking to convert it to script. “Write a logline for your story,” they said as if that was a simple thing. OMG! Take an entire story and break it down into one sentence. Really?

     My first logline truly sucked! It was way too long, filled with descriptive words, and missed the mark in a big way. The instructor even said, “You write novels don’t you?” Drat! I’ve been discovered before I even have a chance to play. Not feeling so confident now, but plugging along. “At least do the exercises and assignments, maybe something will click,” I said to myself over and over and over. Coffee, eyestrain, fits of flinging papers in the trash, all signs for others to stay the heck out of the room.

     This went on for the first three months, and I will admit that I was beginning to fall on the side of the naysayers. Then epiphany! Start with something completely new, so I’m not dragging baggage on my uphill climb. Sigh, ah, that feels better. But now I’m starting over, and I’m three months in, egad.

     My muse felt my distress and quickly stepped in planting an idea. What if a man broke into a woman’s house and instead of being the victim, she kills him with a baseball bat? Where did that violent idea come from? Yes, I own a bat, but I’d have to be in real danger to hit someone with it. As it turns out my character, Adita Albany, is in real danger. The intruder is a hitman, the third in a string of them that she has summarily dispatched. Ooh, I like where this is going. Adita is ex-FBI, well-trained, successful, but she’s been ousted. Why? Think about that for a minute. Ooo, she married the son of a criminal kingpin in order to save 30 women from a human trafficking ring.

     The story evolved quickly, and I had the first draft in a week. Really? How the heck did I do that? I’m not sure. Maybe it was the Tennessee mountain air coupled with my close encounter with a bear. Can you combine relaxation and adrenaline and come up with a thriller worthy of an actress with guts and presence? Apparently so.

     Is my script perfect? What in this world is perfect? Do I think any screenplay has ever been perfect right out of the box? Are you kidding me? Is it good? Hell, yes! I still look at it and ask myself, “Who is in here with me? Did I write that?” But, then, I do that with every story I write. I still cry at the ending of Blood and Magnolias, and I know the words by heart.

     I have two more scripts in the works and, no, I am not giving up writing novels. As a matter of fact, there are two approaching final edit phase, one more for the Colony Series, Falling Fallow, and a standalone called Harvest of the Innocents.

     Oh, and did I tell you that REDEMPTION has been optioned! Look for it on the big screen in the years to come.

     My well of creation went dry for a while, long story. But, apparently, it has been refilled. I’m overflowing. If you are a fan and you know anyone in the film biz, nudge them in my direction. I’ll make sure you get a free ticket.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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