Friday, June 15, 2007

To script or not to script, that is the question

During my freedom from a real job, I wrote a novel based off of my short story A Problem in Translation. That manuscript is currently wandering around New York trying to find a home...I wish it well.

After finishing it, I realized how much I really enjoyed the story, and I decided I would start working on a script based off of the book. I was plugging along nicely, and then took a break from it in February. During that time, I watched several SF movies, and came to a rather dismal conclusion. The script I'm working on is paced much like 2001: A Space Odyssey, which not surprisingly, is one of my favorite movies. However, the current movie crowd doesn't seem to understand 2001. Instead, they want dramatic special effects with ships blazing across the screens and explosions, lots and lots of explosions. There are only a few space battles in my book, and they're very brief. Expanding them wouldn't make sense to the story, since the interaction of characters is much more important. Yeah, can you imagine Hollywood picking up something like that?

Still, the half finished script is sitting here on my desk, and I have to admit that I'm considering finishing it...although it might make more sense to start on another book...which I probably have a better chance of selling.


Anonymous said...


there's some cool articles about breaking into the scriptwriting business available through the Broad Universe website, their newsletter and its archives.

One thing to remember, when it comes to writing a saleable script -- how much would it cost to make your movie? Besides, stories that depend on special effects are often lacking in other areas.

Robert Porter

Marva said...

If the core is interesting, a director is certainly free to beef up the explosions for the mass audience.

On the other hand, selling a script is a more daunting task than a novel.

On the other other hand, Children of Men is a pretty thoughtful story and I doubt there's that much action in the book. I read a lot of P.D. James, but I'm not sure if I'd read this one.

J Erwine said...

This would probably be an expensive movie to make because I have a lot of aliens in it, and they're not Star Trek aliens. These critters would have to be done using CGI, considering that none of them are what I would consider humanoid.

As far as selling the script, I'm still not even sure that I'm going to finish writing it. I still have that novel that doesn't want to get written that I should probably be working on. However, if a major publisher should pick up the book...well, then it might be a completely different story...

Anonymous said...

I bet the movie-makers are more likely to take a chance on an unproven scriptwriter if it's a great human character-driven story that requires no expensive FX or sets. In other words, suspense and/or humor, and the ability of a mainstream audience to identify with the characters and their problems should trump flashy SF elements or pyrotechnics.

Have you tracked down a list of reputable lit agents that consider both novels and screenplays? If not, you might want to check out the AAR site.

Robert Porter

Jim Shannon said...

When I caught up with Robert J Sawyer last month at a book signing he talked about movie options. Shortly after that on Keith's blog we were talking about how William Gibson (Necromancer)had this book tied up in movie option legalities for years. He might have made more money in movie options then if the film ever sees light of day.

I think some SF authors lucky enough to get movie options of their books make far more from movie options then they do from selling a script and the actual movie. RJS said that a movie option is a yearly payment from a major movie company and the payment goes up every year. I'd rather have a book tied up in movie options then actually selling a script. What if the movie ends up becoming another
Battlefield Earth?

Besides who remembers who wrote the screenplay? Most people care about who's actually in the movie.

I hope you sell the script though.