Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

That's right

I'm late blogging, but I was working on POS and added 7 more pages, this evening. This whole section -- from what I posted yesterday to what I've been working on -- is taking this odd dream-like quality that I know is going to expand once I get into the rewrite. It's like I'm laying the groundwork, right now, because I don't want to hinder the flow of it. I want to see where it goes and how it gets there, first.

Y'know, "East of Eden" is more than 200,000 words long, and it's a brilliant book that keeps you wrapped up in its story through the whole journey, even when it shifts focus to Cal and Aaron in the third section (the part of the book used for the James Dean movie). "War and Peace" is even longer and jumps back and forth between characters as each experiences the Napoleanic invasion of Russia and its aftermath. I guess my delusions of grandeur have caught up to me and I'm swamped in them, because I want POS to reach those same heights.

And I no longer care how long it is. I don't feel the need to rush the story. It's all about Brendan and told completely from his viewpoint, and by the end, I want the reader to so identify with him, no matter what happens they feel like it's understandable and acceptable and natural, and they they have experienced it, themselves. Dunno if I can pull this off -- I did a short version of this experiment with "Desert Land" and haven't had the nerve to find out if it worked. Maybe I'll take a break and try it, again, in another short story.

I think I'm finally sensing the big disconnect in my scripts and film people's reactions to them. I'm not just aiming at telling a story; I'm out to make the movie an emotional experience...and not just fake emotion, not just manufactured emotion like so much of Hollywood likes, but honest and as real as I can get...and that's damn near impossible to pull off in a script. I mean, I can see it. And I've had actors who've read my work see it.

I think the compliments I'm proudest of as regards my screenplays came from a DP who said he felt as if my characters had actually lived, and from an actor who'd read KAZN all the way through and was absolutely certain my lead character was going to be killed off at the end of the second act. I asked him why he thought so and he said, "Because that's what he wanted, and I was terrified he was going to succeed." And it's true -- the lead character was suicidal and his death was intended to trap the man who'd murdered his wife and parents, but it wasn't something I specifically stated in the script; it was something that came out through his actions and reactions.

But apparently it's not visible enough or well-integrated enough to work for those who get movies made. I got three different bits of coverage back on it over the space of a year, and in all three it was mentioned in one way or another that the lead character did some stupid things just to keep the plot's suspense up, and those needed to be changed. Not one of them got that he was suicidal and the "stupid things" he did were deliberate.

However, working in narrative form you can dig more easily into the mind of the character -- so the emotional effects are much simpler to achieve. I guess I aimed too high with my screenwriting and didn't have the ability to put it across. Of course, I could also just be delusional in thinking that's why nobody wanted my work. It could just be that they weren't good enough. I don't know. I just know that I can picture POS in images and actions, like a script, even as I write it now. And I can hear Brendan speak. And that's sometimes more real to me than anything else in this world.

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