Last quarter, I took “Intro to Screenwriting”. In this class, my biggest issue was formatting. My story aspects were haphazard, because I’ve never thought in visuals before, and they were short, the longest was 15 pages.
Last week I began working my 392 page novel down to a 120 page screenplay. OMG! I expected to shorten, tighten, make more active. I stripped out all exposition and added one word prompts, for – emotion. My confidence rose as I moved through the middle of Chapter 2. Then I got to the next scene.
If you’re not a novelist, this might not make sense but, OMG! I had this awesome scene with the heroine and her friend (mentor/sidekick) learning how to do a Tarot reading, with a “How-To” book. The scene was full of cool quips, foreshadowing, characterization, and – nothing visual or active happens – it all got cut. All of it!
Barely had I recovered from that surgery, and only two scene’s later, I introduced a pivitol character for the heroine’s internal journey. Her brother. Who lives in Chicago. Never appears on stage. Long-distance phone calls. I didn’t cry when I silenced and stripped him from the pages. Wiped clean, only a reference to his existance. I had to leave that, just in case.
Now I really know why novels never transfer well to the screen. Not even the novelist can change that. My only comfort is, the novel remains, to be edited again. If anyone want to buy the movie rights, they can have them. I’d rather a real screenwriter butcher my characters, and scenes, then murder them myself.