Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writing my first book

So as you may have read, I'm in the process of turning one of my unsold screenplays into a book.

This is a wonderful challenge.

First, I've always been fascinated by authors of full length fiction. How does one sit down and write a book?! A whole fricking book!?! I think it's amazing and so for many years have thought "I reckon I'd be good at that." I've had many ideas for books, but a few weeks ago, while I was having coffee with my best friend, he suddenly made me think that it's something I could do. He, like me, is an aspiring filmmaker, screenwriter, producer actor type, and had written a screenplay a while ago that he backwards engineered into a novel. He's in the process of editing it right now, and as soon as it's out I'll let you know. I've often thought that I don't have any cool story ideas, but then I realized I HAVE TONS OF THEM!!!! In fact, some are already written in the form of screenplays. Others are full pitches that I kinda know the fundamentals of the story of and just need fleshing out.

So I chose one of my earlier screenplays (A lil' sci-fi action horror called BLOOD SOLDIERS) and am in the process of writing it. I've written two chapters, and boy is it a different beast.

See, when you write screenplays you're trying to eliminate as many words as you can, to be as succinct as you can, to make the whole damn thing fit under a hundred and ten pages (one hundred if you're really good). So to be using the screenplay as the basis of the book is super hard, because it's intentionally succinct. Scenes, action and dialogue are intentionally short because you're trying to tell this story as quickly as possible. But with a novel, you actually have to add stuff. A lot of stuff. All the descriptive fluff that I TAKE OUT of my screenplay, I now have to ADD IN (in droves) to get the word count up. The story is still the same, the structure still pretty much untouched by the adaptation, but suddenly I have more words to play with. A LOT MORE.

Of course, with narrative fiction, we get to do something we can't do in screenplay. That is get into the inside of our characters heads and reveal their inner world. And it's taking a shift in thinking. I don't just have to tell by showing,  but now I can really tell by telling. And it's a whole different way of thinking that is proving to be well worth it. The novel I'm reading right now (A sci-fi from the Horus Heresy series) will be in one location and then go off on a complete tangent, exploring ideas that the main character is thinking about, their history etc, and then pull us right back into the action. So I'm trying to take that cue. The scene doesn't have to just be about the scene, but can be about ideas, the main character's mum, or whatever. As long as the prime story is being told, you can go off and do pretty much whatever you want. As long as it informs your story in some way of course.

Anyway, it's great fun, but a gripping challenge, especially around all the other life stuff I'm doing (day job, screenwriting and fatherhood).

Even if it's just an exercise in writing, it's well worth undertaking.

Did you see the cover artwork yesterday? What did you think?

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