Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Screen time

As predicted, the process of turning the extended story of the "Being" TV pilot into a novel has become the process of turning the novel into a screenplay. I'm not a novelist. I don't have the patience (or the skill?) to describe scenes in detail with compelling words, to make characters feel alive and moving through ornately constructed chunks of dialog. My mind conceives of these things visually, hence why -- where fiction is concerned -- I'm most comfortable writing in script format, whether it be for comics, TV or film.

I had finished about four or five chapters of "Being"'s novelization before making the decision to tread the screenplay waters, so little work needed to be done other than reformatting the dialog and action descriptions for those chapters. But it finally occurred to me today that despite having copious notes scattered around my ever-present laptop bag, I didn't actually have a beat sheet, or even outline, for the film (or, the novel, either -- basically, none for the story at all). Sure, I know the major strokes in my head, where the story starts, where it ends, even how the three-act structure kind-of looks. But unlike a different screenplay I'm in the midst of (a completely different type of story, one for an action-drama that is much further along but still unfinished), making progress on individual scenes is getting stalled by my lack of an outline (or even synopsis) to reference.

I know, that seems like a no-brainer. You're thinking as you read this (assuming anyone ever does; I know this blog is mostly for my own indulgence), "Amateur move, writing a script without an outline." But remember: None of this was supposed to happen. I was working on a TV pilot. I had it all wrapped up. I had loglines for future episodes. That was in the can. This, however, was going to unfold more organically (I thought), each chapter of the novel spilling out of my fingers as I drank mocha lattes in my favorite coffee shop, just like the olden days.

Well, that didn't happen, it's now a screenplay (and better off for it), and now I have to draft and outline. I have to know where I'm going. I need a map. Or else I'm going to get lost in the middle of the desert, with no cell reception, watching the vultures circling.


  1. I've been in this exact same place a bunch of times. I love to write screenplays, but no one wants to read a screenplay, so I try to "novelize" them -- but the process is so different you sacrifice most of what made conceiving and writing the original so fun. : (

  2. Bingo, Paul. I swear, I've been going through this same stupid process for years. I just now realize when I was 16 or 17 I started to write a film, which I turned into a terrible novella (mainly because I didn't have the resources to independently produce a short film back then).

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by, yo!