Sunday, 5 February 2017

What to do with the feature script that isn't made...

My writing muse... patient even when I give her devil hair
What do you do with a script that isn’t made?

Or a play that theatres aren't interested in because it's too small/ too different?

This is the issue with so many writers, so many fantastic scripts and so many great stories.

The majority of scripts are never produced, they never snuggle into the width of a TV or cinema screen or grace a large or even small theatre.

They sit on our shelves, making us feel slightly deflated as they increase in number. They go out and hunt for directors, producers, sometimes find them, get optioned, developed, gather awards and commendations, even bought... and still end up back on our shelves.

About seven years ago, after over a decade of working as a screenwriter,  I looked at my family of feature scripts and decided to turn the family features into children’s books. At least then they had a chance of another life. Another selection of rejection letters! At least, even if they weren't published, they could be read.

Scripts written for the screen are not easy to read if you're not used to the form.

Strangely - or not! - adapting them to prose was not nearly as simple as I thought it would be!

The first one, which will be my next book out, seemed straightforward... I added prose around the dialogue and expanded the scene settings and characters... and discovered that I had three or even four Sundays in a row.

What happened during the weeks in between?

In film, that wasn't important. It's a visual medium. You sweep people away into your world and they don't ask where Tuesday went. 

That was a problem.

I filled the weeks in only then the book was too long and flat... The best advice I got, from writer and editor, Claire Hennessy, came when I sent her one of my books to read. Scriptwriters writing novels tend to feel they have to fill in the gaps.

But we don’t need to do this. A book has to be a fun and exciting and moving read. A page-turned. That’s our job.

So here I am bringing out my first book, Dad’s Red Dress...

A mock up of the book - can't wait to hold one!

It has been a nerve-wracking ride getting to this point but it feels lovely to be in control. To be able to put it out there, in a way screenwriters can’t unless they become directors.  So many people have helped me get here and made sure I got to this point – readers in Ireland, Australia, the US, England to start. 

Still I held back because I needed a cover and didn’t know what to ask for. Up steps a fantastic young graphic designer (Aoife Henkes) Another friend, novelist and screenwriter is managing our social media campaign, others who have self-published are at the end of the line to answer stupid questions.

All that’s left now is to let it go and gather friends!(On the stage script question at the top of the blog - you put it on yourself but that's a blog and a whole set of hurdles that can be overcome for another blog. 

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