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Turning A Novel Into Film – Characters And Actors On The Loose

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When adapting a novel manuscript to a film script, I realize it will take a whole host of other people to tell me how successful I might be. I’ve done this twice before, and realize that I must not only ignore my usual method of writing, but often go exactly against it.

I attempted to “learn” how to write for film. I read many instruction books, attended classes and workshops, and had meetings with people. I read many film scripts, which did help me accept the (to my eye) arcane format. But the one thing that actually turned me visual, was the comment of a writer/editor friend who said, after reading my attempt, “I can’t see it.”

That is, it did not cause visual action in her mind.

And I understood.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle is to accept that a movie is not a book, and that changes, additions and omissions will be necessary. As with a play, there is a finite time limit, that generally clocks in under two hours. The threads and plot points of a movie are different. And the characters (I swear) feel this freedom, and choose to accentuate other aspects of themselves than revealed in a novel.

The very fact their paragraphs of dialogue are best reduced to two or three lines makes them uppity. And because they can, in mere seconds, be in diverse locations, performing radically different actions, they become exact without apology. They don’t have to fill in the spaces.

The writer has to fill in the spaces however, and do so with visual stimulation. The transitions have to be swift and their descriptions exact. The road is always the fast lane and the characters kick the tires with gusto.

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Adapt A Novel Manuscript To A Movie Script

(image)

It will take a whole host of other people to tell me how successful I will be. I’ve done it twice, and realize I must not only ignore my usual method of writing, but often go exactly against it.

I  have attempted to “learn” how to write for film, with many instruction books, and classes, and workshops, and meetings with people. I read many film scripts, which did help me accept the (to my eye) arcane format. But the one thing which turned me visual was the comment of a writer/editor friend who said, after reading my attempt, “I can’t see it.” That is, it did not cause visual action in her mind. And I understood.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to get over is to accept that a movie is not a book  Changes, additions, and omissions will be necessary. As with a stage play, there is a finite time limit that generally clocks in under two hours. The threads and plot points of a movie are different. And the characters (I swear) feel this freedom, and choose to accentuate other aspects of themselves than are revealed in a novel.

The very fact their paragraphs of dialogue must be reduced to two or three lines makes them uppity. And because they can, in mere seconds, be in diverse locations, performing radically different actions, they become exact without apology. They don’t have to fill in the spaces.

The writer has to fill in the spaces however, and do so with visual stimulation. The transitions have to be swift. Their descriptions exact.

The road is always the fast lane, and the characters kick the tires with gusto.

DE

 

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