Saturday, April 3, 2010

The morning's writing dilemma

Somewhere along the line, I need to figure out where the exposition about the parallel world fits into the screenplay I am writing.

I can't think like a novelist.  I can't even think like a short story writer, even though some of the same rules of economy apply.  I have to think like a screenwriter.

I love novels because they can provide so much detail about characters and places.  You really get to know them as their reader.  When watching a film, you are barely introduced before you get swept up into the storm of activity.  It's the story, the plot and the action which captivate you (possibly aided by a pretty face or two and even majestic, beautiful or intricate scenery, because eye candy never hurts).  You might care about what happens to the characters, but you don't really know them.

With those thoughts in mind, how do I go about turning thirty-five pages of essentially conversational exposition into a scene or two of informative backstory so that I don't lose my viewers in lengthy conversations?

Do I write scenes that I know I am not going to use?  Will it help me write other scenes, especially those I have to create from scratch?  Will it be helpful just to get them down on paper (or up on the screen) and therefore out of my head?  Or is it a frivolous use of valuable writing time?

It would be practice if nothing else, and practice is almost never a frivolous use of valuable writing time.

With the novel writing exercise of last November, the keys to the kingdom were most certainly found in quantity over quality.  In comparison to fifty thousand words, one hundred pages formatted to favor white space on the page seems like a molehill, and quality and quantity might just be able to switch places on the priority list ... or at least sit a bit closer together.

One hundred pages I can do.  It's having a distinct beginning, middle and end happening to interesting characters in an interesting setting crammed into those hundred pages which is the real challenge.

Reading that inspires research

[Author's note: This partially written blog post has been sitting in the Drafts folder of my e-mail program for ages.  I am hoping that sending it out into the world as an unprotected draft will be more encouragement to finish it.  So, as usual, my readers, you are in on the ground floor of an experiment.  Take careful notes.]

The Swan Thieves sent me in search of my copies of The Story of Art and The Impressionists: A Survey so that I could read about Impresionism, but my recently recovered mythology books are coming in handy as well as because there is a reference to Leda, mother of Castor and Pollux and Helen and Clytemnestra.   For some reason it comes as a surprise to me that Helen is immortal.

I also came across the reference to Eris which my brain has been trying to unearth since I heard the name.  Eris is the goddess of discord.  Not sure if that is the reference intended by the Google Olympians (Googlenauts?) at HTC -- manufacturers of my beloved Droid Eris, Saraswati -- or not.  They do like to be upstarts, after all.

References and research aside, The Swan Thieves is an absorbing story of art, unconventional love, and the madness which so often shadows them both.

Perhaps it is simply that in all of my reading of science fiction and fantasy and food memoirs, I haven't read a "real" novel in quite some time, but Elizabeth Kostova's use of language is enchanting.  So much so that I finally understand the hype which surrounded her first novel The Historian.  Well, I potentially understand it since I only have a copy which I have not yet read, but if the style and the language are similar, I expect equal absorption and enchantment.