Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Adapting a Work

Recently I was watching my new favorite show on TV and a character told another that everyone has one novel in them. I instantly thought back to when I first started to write novels as I thought I only had Well With My Soul inside of me - dying to get out. All these years later and a few more books under my belt and I find I'm returning to familiar territory. I recently used a book of mine as the basis for a short film. I adapted the novel Missing by Drake Braxton into a feature film screenplay and now, I'm attacking a story of mine that I believe should be on screen.

Very few people read Cool Side of the Pillow. I'll admit, when released, I tried something new with only placing it on the Kindle as an eBook (which cut out many readers right there) - but to be frank: it bombed. Had it been a book released by a major publisher, they would have yanked it from the shelves after the first month of sitting there collecting dust. Yet I'm so proud of that book. In some ways, I related so much to the main character in search of who he would be in the second half of his life and in other ways - this stay-at-home Jewish dad was completely foreign to me. Even as I wrote the novel, it was always a movie in my mind. I could see every scene. I can visualize the eccentric character that is Ginger Charman - the aging actress that completely turns Zach's life upside down. And now, I've plunged head first down that rabbit hole again to turn it into a screenplay. Sure, that screenplay may sit in a drawer forever (or at least on my computer's hard drive), but I believe I need to get it written so as to have completed that goal. (I'll take overachiever for $500, Alex.)

Here is the hard part of adapting something for film: everyone always loves the book more. And there is a reason, when we read - we create our own movie in our mind. Plus, there is so much more texture and layered backstories that can be in a novel. Think about it - do you really want to sit in a three hour movie? I know my butt got tired during Gone Girl with its running time of 149 minutes because they wanted to keep that book/story intact. But usually, you try and keep movie scripts under two hours. That means scenes, characters - so much needs to be cut and you must get to the root of the story and tell it in a new way.

I'm finding that difficult. Time has passed since I wrote this novel, but as I go back to it now - I can't help but look at moments that I LOVED and now think "dang, that has to go for the film". And that's where I am. Killing off moments as I adapt so that the story can possibly have a new life in a different medium. It's a challenge. It's a risk. And ultimately, it will be rewarding. For now though - at times I get overwhelmed and walk away from it until I can look at it with fresh eyes and not allow the novelist to get mad at the screenwriter. (Then the screenwriter tells the novelist that adapt means to alter, make it fit…to change something up and the two of them go at it!)

The one good thing about this is - no one read the book so I won't have to hear that the book was better! See how I found that silver lining? 



  1. Loved the book and I'm looking forward to the movie!

    1. Thanks, Phil! And who knows if it will ever be a movie and if so - you'll even recognize it from the book! haha