Screenplay to Novel

This photograph was taken in January 2013 during a short personal writing retreat. One day was spent snapping photographs around beautiful Sedona, Arizona, but most of the time I was working on a feature length screenplay.

I had no idea that just one short year later, I would be living in a tiny town in Southern Texas writing my first novel! Life can be so unpredictable sometimes.

Making the transition from writing screenplays to writing novels has proven to be quite interesting. I love both, by the way. But, they are different.

One of the most challenging things for me has been changing from writing in the present tense to writing in the past tense. When I reread a paragraph, often I find the tenses all mixed up. Habits formed over the past ten years are hard to break.

The coolest thing has been being able to write all the colorful description that my little heart desires! Typically in screenwriting, the idea is to communicate your vision in as few words as possible. Then, the writer gives that all up and everything becomes the vision of the director, set decorators, visual effects artists, and other competent individuals involved in filmmaking. With a book, it’s all mine! Hahaha! It’s completely my world and I can design and describe it with grand broad strokes or with as much minutia as I want. 

One similarity between screenwriting and novel writing has been the enjoyment of getting totally into the characters, having them develop into living, breathing people complete with problems, challenges, joys, and triumphs. However, in novel writing, I am afforded the luxury of being very clear about how a character feels and what he is thinking. Although still important, the dialogue doesn’t have to be the only way to convey a characters experience.

For those that know my writing habits, I still create with appropriate music playing in the background for inspiration, usually movie soundtracks. And, drink lots and lots of hot tea!

I have found many useful links and resources in researching about the world of authorship. One website which has some really useful articles and podcasts is The Creative Penn.

Even though I am concentrating mostly on this first novel, I have several other ideas for more writing projects. Some authors take years to write one book and then other writers are more prolific and churn out a new book every month. This article by Dean Wesley Smith talks about how fast you write makes a difference in quality – or NOT. Loved it, since my tendency is to work to finish projects faster rather than slower.

It’s fascinating but not surprising that getting your novels noticed is much like getting your films noticed. Takes networking and marketing for both. There are also tons of viewpoints and information on publishing. I’m working through those so when it comes time, I’ll know where to begin.

I will be finishing the first draft of my first novel in the next couple of weeks. But, like with screenwriting, the first draft is just getting everything out onto paper. Then, the editing, massaging, and rewrites begin. I am definitely familiar with rewrites.

There is still so much to learn about writing a book but I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge. Since, I don’t write on the weekends, when Monday rolls around, I can’t wait to get back to my computer.

Of course, the ultimate experience would be to merge my two passions. My novel writing being adapted for the screen resulting in an independent film. Exhilaration!

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