Thursday, June 05, 2008

Knowing My Strengths

Question of the week: Did you ever consider writing the screenplay yourself? I've been in similar shoes and instead of selling the rights to a production (albeit MUCH smaller than yours), I asked to take a stab at the screenplay myself. I've submitted one draft, received feedback and am now on round three or four. And yes, there are many days when I kick myself for not just selling the rights!

I didn't, not for one second, consider writing the screenplay myself. Which, I guess, might seem a little crazy. As my wise friend Laura Dave once said to me, "We really need to figure out how to write screenplays because that's where the money is!" Ha! And she's right, of course. You'll earn a lot more money on the deal terms if you adapt your own book, not to mention probably have a truer version (in most cases) of the adaptation.

But, eh, you know what? I just don't have any idea how to write a screenplay, and learning seems...daunting. I'm sure that I could read a few books and probably eke one out, but in many ways, I think I'm better off handing this over to someone who really rocks at creating a cinematic vision rather than pull together a scrappy version of what I might come up with. Another concern is that in some ways, I might be too close to this material. Obviously, not all aspects of a book can be included in the movie version, and what if I wanted to include certain aspects that are close to my heart but might not translate well on-screen? I'm not sure that I could toe that line. And since I've already written the best dialogue that I know how to come out of these characters' mouths, I also imagine I might have a hard time coming up with fresher, more movie-worthy chatter.

I dunno. It just seems hard. Writing a book is hard enough! Do I really need that challenge? :) One thing that I would certainly be open to is co-writing the screenplay alongside a pro, but since no one asked me, I guess that's not in the cards! Ha!

You know, maybe this sounds trite, but I'm really okay with passing it off to someone. I truly trust the producers on this project so much that I know that they'll put the material in good hands. Qualified hands. Which is more than I think I would be.

But readers, chime in - would you rather have a pro take a crack at your adaptation or do it yourself? Any personal experience with this?


Trish Ryan said...

I'm all about letting the pros do what they do best. It's not that you couldn't learn how to write a screenplay, but rather would you want the first screenplay you've ever written to be for this project? Seems like the stakes are awfully high.

But given that you have TONS of free time, there's no reason you couldn't learn screenplay writing on the side, right???


Cindy said...

YES Im doing it right now and loving it. Ive been studying the art of the screenplay and doing classes and such because I dont think one can simply sit down and hammer out a screenplay with no idea of what they are doing (although Diablo Cody insists she knew nothing about it when writing Juno).

Its totally different than writing a novel. Im hoping it will make me more versatile in terms of my writing career.

Alison-Im dying to read your book!

Larramie said...

You've written a terrific novel that TPTB in Hollywood love and somehow that feels more than enough! ;)

Therese Walsh said...

I would do it, because it's another way of approaching story--a great learning experience if nothing else.

Jen A. Miller said...

I've done some screenwriting, and I'd leave it to the pros. It ain't easy.

Then again, I don't write fiction. I leave that to the pros, too :-)