Saturday, May 28, 2011

How Books Are Now Like Movies But With Words

Some years ago I lived in California while being ignored by the industry out there.
What's his name?  I don't know but he wrote a semi-forgettable movie with Tom Selleck.  (See how much I'm telling you.  You might even be able to figure out who I'm talking about with the process of elimination!)
We got into a conversation about books because it's just so bloody difficult to write a screenplay, sell it, and see it made.  That's really tough.  So he was asking about books since I came from books.
What he wanted to do was essentially write a script but in prose.   I went back to my agent at the time and explained this to her and she said it wouldn't work.

Now we have digital and I think the time is perfect to do that.  Most readers, the ones who are here now I'm not saying anything about who might show up in 6 months or a year, like heavily plotted non-interior styles.  "Nothing happens!  This is all thinking!"  Someone basically said in a review this week.

I do take (you noticed) reviews seriously.  Not so seriously as changing anything, "What am I dumb or sumthin'?" to quote Lena Lamont in Singing In The Rain,  but to detect what they're looking for.

The line between a chicklit book and a chicklit movie is non-existent.  Bridget Jones, See Jane Date, the awful movie based on a book about the woman who hired the male prostitute to be her companion at her sister's wedding.  You could name 50 more esp if you chose TV movies from the Hallmark Channel and um LMN.  These projects have primed the audience to expect storytelling in a very filmic way.  No one "thinks" in a movie.  They're called moving pictures for a reason.

The strongest sellers in ebooks are essentially little movies.  They're in the thriller genre.  Or police procedure.  Turn on USA Network, Sleuth, or even LMN again and you'll see endless renditions of this.

So if I have to give you any advice if you wanted to attempt to write something with good results, I would tell you to write a prose movie.  Write something you would see on HBO or Showtime.  You don't need much characterization.  What you need are types.  Clearly define your character into types.  Don't be too challenging.  Don't make the character deep or complicated.  Any psychological issues they might have--and they should have at least one, and a grimy backstory--should be easily understood.  You want to explain it once and have it understood.  You can refer to it again as the story progresses but don't add to it.

There was a TV movie on LMN this afternoon (is that Andrew McCarthy as a cowboy????) and the female lead's father left home when she was young.  That ruined her life.  That's all you need.  You don't need it to be more complicated than that.  As she explained her childhood to him (why she'd open up to him is beyond me but see I'm thinking and that's not necessary) she looked sad.  Okay.  We get it now we can move on to more important things like maybe losing the ranch.  If they're on a ranch, the ranch is always in danger of being foreclosed on.  Why reinvent the wheel?

All this holds true for thrillers.  Put the woman in danger.  Slap her around.  Maybe (your choice of abuse goes here) her so she's really sad, and then have her rescued.  Just like a movie.

Don't be timid.

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