Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vaulting the Horse

It’s been an interesting few days of mental acrobatics - tour events, book revision, and now the structuring of a screenplay.

This morning began with editor’s notes on the manuscript of my latest Enzo book - following a reverse route from France to Arizona, instead of the other way round.

Thank God for good editors. And Barbara certainly is one. She offered valuable insights into the book, and made some telling suggestions which will only improve it. So my homework awaits me as soon as I return to France.

Then, in between builders setting off smoke alarms, gardeners nearly letting the dog out, and a jack-hammer pounding ceaselessly through the wall, La Patronne and I began work on the screenplay.

The process had begun with La Patronne identifying and annotating every story development in the book, which is to be the basis for the screenplay. These were then assembled in a piece of software called Final Draft, and printed out. In the meantime, I had been burying my head in detailed Hong Kong research, finding new locations, seeking out new contacts.

I read through the Final Draft printout over breakfast, after digesting Barbara’s notes on the book, and then we cut up the printed sheets to lay out on the dining table - 114 story movements.

What followed were eight brainstorming hours spent re-locating the story in Hong Kong, turning the original tale almost completely on its head, throwing away a substantial amount of story material from the book, and winding up with a running order that, hopefully, is fast-paced and dramatic.

The next step is to reassemble the new structure in the computer, before I sit down to write a dramatic synopsis of the whole, which will go to the producers for discussion.

Just an average sort of day in sunny Scottsdale!


DJ Kirkby said...

That Final Draft software sounds interesting. Is it only for turning novels into screen plays? I'm glad you put up the photos because they helped bring this whole post to life for me. So much hard work but really fascinating for people like me to read.

Janice said...

Hi DJ,
It's really for writing scripts, whether adapting from novels or not. It has templates for all the US and UK movie and TV formats. It also has a template for a book manuscript, but that doesn't link with the feature we were using.

We used the "index card" feature to input the location and content of every scene. It simultaneously synchronises the index card info with the script template. So when we've juggled all the index cards around, and got the script the way we want it, all the scene headings are already in the script template and it's ready to roll straight away.

A big time and labour saver!

Carol said...

It's interesting reading about the process you both are going through. I had never really given much thought to the how's of how these things are done but what your doing makes complete sense to me. (Should I be worried about that? I think I should be worried about that!!)

C x

Debs said...

How fascinating. I had no idea how these things worked at all.

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Janice
It's all really fascinating. I think I've found something similar for use when editing novels called YWriter but I'm struggling to figure out how to actually use it. FAIL.