On Screenwriting vs. Novel-writing

So, because tax deadline kills the sleep and stokes the muse, I started working on the script counterpart to Book 1. Yep, I’m writing a movie. No, not for Script Frenzy – because tax season will eat me if I try that, and I’m actually about to head to work as I’m writing this – but because, frankly, it’s fun, and I want to pitchThe Index as a film series.

And I am slowly getting really, really into it.

I will admit this: when I first started laying down The Index, back in 2006, I had every intention of writing it so that it could translate to the screen easily. I can see this being a great series in film; I wouldn’t put my work on the same scale of potential that Harry Potter had ended up with, but I definitely think that my work has a certain visual appeal. At least to the nerds who ended up loving it so far (yes, I’m looking at you, and you know who you are!!!).

With all the difficulties and travails that I’ve had with the first book of this series – for the details on that, everything with the Book 1 category on this blog that dates back to 2009 will tell you exactly what was going on – I’ve had a surprisingly easy time so far templating out the first few scenes of the book in screen format. While in the first book I had the challenge of layout, conventions, scenery, and the general flow of the book, right now the challenge has shifted to having an effective portrayal of that same text. There is much less focus on the writing details when you’re working in screen form. It becomes all about the visual, all about how the characters will be seen, and all about how to see everything effectively. i.e. soundtrack cues, potential actors, etc.

This also brings an entirely new dimension to the process: I have to actually think of this in visual terms. I will admit shamelessly that I thought of anime noir at the time I was writing the story in the first place, but right now, and especially right now, I”m thinking of it as a live-action endeavor. Yes, might cost more, but it will work better this way. I have to actually consider who will play whom in the film. I can’t cast Shou and Kian, for the life of me, but I’ve earlier mentioned that Arriella would be best played by Serinda Swan (you may know her as Erica Reed if you’re a fan of Breakout Kings). Shourron I, both sides of him, would be best done with Liam Neeson. Rena would have a worthy portrayal in the hands of Annabelle Wallis (Jane Seymour from The Tudors, season 3). Arriella’s scheming mother, Morrhia, would go to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Lord Kirare, the Viceroy of the Underworld, will go to the actor whose presence inspired his creation to begin with: Chris Noth. And Jason Watson, the redheaded, lovable-little-shit bon vivant based on one of my dearest friends, will be played by the most versatile redhead there is….Damian Lewis. Whom you may have seen in Homeland.

Hey, dream big, right?

But in reality, all this is helping me put the movie into motion, so to speak. Now that there are flesh-and-blood people representing the people whom I’ve written into existence, writing the screen form suddenly becomes that much easier. Same for soundtrack: no movie is complete without sound, and now I have to dig at my collection of jazz, rock, Celtic, and everything else to start matching scenes to songs.

In other words, the story hasn’t changed, but the presentation is wildly different. And considering that I spent the past six years heavily entrenched in and perfecting the noveling side of writing, to switch gears like that is quite the lulu. I won’t deny one thing, though: I rather like it.

To note, I will put up Mages on TriggerStreet.com, which is a great hosting site for indie scripts, and I will also make a PDF of it available in e-book format. Print will be entirely too clunky…or not, I don’t know. Still thinking about it.

And, to note, if Mages does get picked up for production? Well…then let’s just say it. My life will be changing very fast.


Slight addendum: Book 1 can be found here, and is free for Kindle on April 17th. Yes, a slightly shameless plug. :)


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