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He Shall Thunder

June 10, 2008

He Shall Thunder in the Sky

I began the process of adapting my pet project in earnest today, spending most of the morning at my local Coffee Bean with my well-worn copy of the book and those little post-it flags that come with certain highlighters.  My goal was to go through the book marking any passages I found particularly relevant either to the plot or to the characters, and then see what I could make of them from there.

Even with that step there’s too much material for a 110 page screenplay, and following the very specific screenplay format, at the very least I’ll have to move certain events around, to say nothing of the events and characters I’ll have to leave out altogether.  Little Molly Hamilton and her governess have already gotten the axe.

Despite the fact that several professors have attempted to instill it in me, I still have no taste for preplanning, or outlines.  This is a dislike I know I’ll have to get past in writing for television, as the beat-sheet is a must, but I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to write a complete outline for a script – or, rather, my enthusiasm will get the better of me and I’ll at least begin the script without an outline, and write until I come to the point where I don’t know what’s going to happen next (at which point I’ll shout, “Blarg!” and walk away from computer in frustration.)  That’s my writing process – I’m sure the disorganized nature of it doesn’t work for most people.

In most cases, this spontaneous approach works so long as I know how the story will end – otherwise I’ll never be able to reach it.  Since I know how this story ends already, that shouldn’t be a problem, and I couldn’t resist getting a feel for the language of some of my favorite characters in literature.  At this point I’m sure I’m sticking too close to the text, but it’s difficult to write new lines for characters when the author put them so well the first time.

Adding to the difficulty, this book comes in the middle of the series, and while fairly well able to stand on its own, there are a few points of necessary backstory that I think will give me trouble.  I’m sensing flashbacks are in my future.

Possibly the most grueling part is having to skip past all those great little character moments that have nothing to do with an already complicated plot.  

It’s really a very fascinating learning experience, and that’s all I’m trying to do – learn.


Quote of the Day: 

Where do you get your ideas? 
I am sorry to say that this question has become something of a bad joke among writers. The only possible answer is: “Everywhere.” You don’t get ideas; you see them, recognize them, greet them familiarly when they amble up to you. A few examples from my own experience: reading Arthurian legends and articles about the Cadbury excavations inspired “The Camelot Caper.” An oddly shaped bag of trash some lout had tossed onto the shoulder of a country road make me think about bodies in trash bags and led eventually to the skeleton on the road, in “Be Buried in the Rain.” Like all skills this one can be honed with practice, but if you have to ask the question you probably shouldn’t try to write a novel or short story. And if you ask a writer who has heard that same question dozens of times, she may come back with some snappy answer like “There’s a drugstore in North Dakota where I order mine.”  – Barbara Mertz aka Elizabeth Peters, author He Shall Thunder in the Sky

Link of the Day: He Shall Thunder in the Sky on Amazon

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