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Why don't I just write a book?

Got my Adonis screenplay requested for reading by another company!

Recently I delivered my Adonis pitch in another screenplay pitching session, and they asked for it! Very pleased with that, because the response from the executive was so positive. Out of three verbal pitch sessions, I have gotten three requests to read, which is a damn good track record and confirmation of the fact that I have a good story, a good pitch for it, and I am doing a good job of pitching.

This one I know won't go anywhere. The executive said she thought it sounded great but it wasn't the sort of thing her company was looking for right then. Still, she wanted to read it. That's still good for me, because the more people in the business get eyes on it, the better. I have a feeling that if I make it, it won't be because this script sells-- it will be because it impresses people, and they'll want something else from me which I'll have an easier time getting made. And then, when I have a little cache, then I can possibly push a big gun like Adonis.

But this executive, like others before her, asked me a question that's been kind of on my nerves in recent years-- "Have you considered making this a book?" I've gotten that on not only on this project, but also Mrs. Hawking. Lots of people think I should turn both or either of these properties into a novel rather than the dramatic form I've originally conceived of them in.

I've some idea of the reasons people tend to think this. Some don't or "can't" read scripts and would rather read books (never mind the fact that I don't understand why it would be harder to read something that's a third as dense). Some people think it would be easier to get it out their in published form than in trying to get it produced. Other have apparently artistic aspirations on my behalf, and think the level of detail and world building I would be able to do in a novel form would really make the most of the stories.

The idea makes me feel grouchy. First of all, if I wanted them to be books, that's what I would have written. I want them to be films/television. But moreover, I don't even know if I could write a good book. I am trained in dramatic writing-- I am thirty thousand dollars in debt for a degree in it, in a program that separated instruction in fiction and in drama --and not trained in novel writing. I do not really write prose anymore. The last time I tried, incidentally, was that two-page banging out of the very early, very initial idea for Adonis. The process was incredibly difficult for me, and the results were pretty banal beyond the germ of the idea-- so banal and free of significance or meaning that the scene I depicted in that piece ended up getting cut out of the screenplay version. Mrs. Hawking and Adonis are my two most important properties right now. I don't want to wreck them by writing shitty novels because I don't have the skill to do it.

I'm a good enough writer that I could probably learn. But it would take time, and in that time, I wouldn't be producing anything good. I'm not sure I want to take a year or whatever off to just write crap to get over that hump. I want to be moving forward. I guess if somebody promised me, yeah, if you write these books they will take off, it would be worth the time, but there are no guarantees like that.

I don't know. I'm considering it. Maybe I should. I will give it more thought. I want a career in this badly enough that I'm not ruling it out.

Posts from This Journal by “writing” Tag


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC)
Hmm. It's funny, I too sometimes get (or hear on other people's works) comments like, "This feels like it would be better as a novel/short story/play," etc -- whatever form the work is not! It's become somewhat of a frustrating trope; it's the least helpful thing someone can say when critiquing my work.

I'm beginning to wonder if it's an expert way of saying, "There's something about this that doesn't work for me, but I can't pin down what."

That said, I don't think it would take so long as that to gain expertise as a writer of prose. Many of the basics are the same, like creating dramatic tension. Translating things like the blocking of a scene to physical descriptions I would anticipate as being one of the more challenging points.

That ALSO said, it's not significantly easier to sell prose. And, yanno, people actually WATCH movies; you're not pitching to the ambivalent audience that is "novel readers in my small genre." If you don't want to write prose, I don't think there's any reason to do it just to gain visibility.
Dec. 16th, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC)
I look forward to one day seeing the novelization of the blockbuster movie. But perhaps someone else will write that novelization.
Dec. 17th, 2015 03:29 am (UTC)
For Adonis in particular, I think it would be doing a disservice to the theme and story you are telling to change the medium.* So much of the point of Adonis is an examination of the concepts of gaze (male, female) and being reduced to An Object People Look At. I think that's a story that (if not only) can certainly BEST be told in movie format.

Why not a book (or even a play)? Because they emphasize words (books are obvious, but I'm sure you've heard the screenplay vs. stageplay formats idea). And why a movie? (Versus television, which of course you know I have a bias toward, so if I'M saying it...)

While obviously DVDs, the internet, and the increased HD/large screen TV experiences are kind of changing the landscape, at their cores, movies are Big Screen Spectacles, and television is Stories in Your Living Room. It needs to be a movie because it's an epic - Aidan is supposed to be (to the audience) a larger-than-life, untouchable, ethereal beauty. The person the entire crowd is watching. There's in fact that sense of camaraderie among the watchers, too - one that plays out best in a movie theater where you and a whole bunch of strangers are all watching the same thing.

It's a story about viewing, objectifying, and being an audience. That story is best expressed when those themes are folded into the medium itself.

(I mean, there are obviously logistical reasons it shouldn't be other media - but I tried to keep to why it SHOULD be a movie.)

*Which is not to say that it's not a valid choice for a variety of reasons to change it if that's what you want to do! I'm just annoyed with them for asking you when I think the medium you chose expresses what you're saying so clearly.

Edited at 2015-12-17 03:50 am (UTC)
Dec. 17th, 2015 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying this, it articulates what I was feeling well. <3
Dec. 17th, 2015 02:57 pm (UTC)
Have you considered a comic book, though? :-P

(I kid, I kid, don't hit me!)
Dec. 17th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you present it that way. It makes sense when you think about it, and reminds me of bad stylistic advice I get from referees in papers. When they don't like the writing, they think they can offer concrete fixes, but they either don't improve the paper at all or only do so marginally.

For what it's worth: I pitched a Bad Apples TV show to a friend who writes theater, and the friend said, sympathetically, that it sounds like a good novel. And I explained why, no, it's a story that makes better film than literature (as do all but the worst LARPs): film and television can show dialog from multiple points of view simultaneously, relying on body language and on acting to convey what the characters are thinking. Writing is more constrained to one viewpoint at a time, so trying to portray the same scene from multiple points of view means the story either is about the multiple accounts, like In A Grove (the source for the movie Rashomon), or is impossible to follow, like the early chapters of A Game of Thrones, when all the characters are in the same place. That's why season 1 of Game of Thrones is better than the book (the subsequent seasons then lose that aspect, since the characters are separated, and then lose out big time on harebrained changes introduced by the showrunners).

Film is also a good medium for showing characters plotting without telling us everything about their plots. Again going by ASOIAF vs. GOT, on television we get to watch Littlefinger and Varys interact alone, but in the books they could never be point of view characters since they know so much.

I have not read Mrs. Hawking. I've read Adonis. It can be a decent book, whereas something like Bad Apples couldn't (I thought for a while about how to write coherent chapters with shifting points of view, and gave up). But I don't think making it a book would improve it in any way, and it's a story that visuals can greatly enhance. You want epic visuals for this. You want to show Aidan victorious at the Coliseum, the center of attention and yet clearly so much smaller than the world around him (the empress, the aristocracy in general, the arena). A book would be great if you had more intricate interactions requiring many characters, or a lot of worldbuilding detail, or literary symbolism (of the "cracks in the vase symbolize the protagonist's emotional cracks" kind). You don't have that; you have a small-ish cast, worldbuilding that relies on what everyone knows of Roman Imperial history, and visual symbolism.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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April 2017


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