Showing posts with label The Sopranos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Sopranos. Show all posts

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Writing a pilot episode based on my book series πŸ€©πŸ“ΊπŸ‘

Why does your favorite book seem so jumbled when it's turned into a movie or television show? Now that I'm writing a pilot episode, I'm starting to understand why things play differently on screen than pages.

When I first started to write the pilot episode for my book series about Jorge Hernandez and his foot soldiers, I was a tad overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start. I briefly considered taking a screenwriting course but the cost to learn this skill seemed a bit insane so I decided instead to look online to see what was available for free or, at at the very least, a more reasonable price. The first person I found was a lovely lady called Word Dancer (who I highly recommend to all writers regardless of their goals) who answered anything I could possibly ask regarding writing a script and getting into the film business. I literally watched every one of her videos and soaked it all in.

The best piece of advice from Word Dancer (although, there was freakin' tons of great information!) was if you want to write scripts, start off by reading scripts. I followed this advice and quickly found the pilot episode for some of my favorite shows including Ray Donovan, The Sopranos, Six Feet UnderThe Ozarks, Narcos, Dexter, and Sons of Anarchy. I studied them carefully, noting the formats while considering the advice in Word Dancer's videos. I made a lot of notes and then jumped in to start my script!

The first thing I noticed what that the pilot episodes requires a lot of from the writer. You need to capture and captivate immediately. You need to introduce your protagonist and give a strong sense of who he/she is, showing all dimensions. You need to have a lot going on so the viewer doesn't get bored. You need to have a unique voice so you aren't simply copying everything else out there (this includes dialogue). You have to demonstrate what kind of show it is so the audience knows what to expect. In essence, you need to grab the viewer by the throat and make them want more.

Since the pilot would start with my book, The Devil is Smooth Like Honey, it meant that the first scene would take place in a hotel. However, this concerned me because I thought this would stick the characters in the same place too long and I felt they needed to be in motion in order to keep things more lively and build up anticipation. In the book, Jorge meets Paige NoΓ«l in a provocative way and the chemistry builds between them through the pages. However, I felt they needed to move around in the pilot, so I had Jorge's attempt to seduce Paige when she suddenly has to leave to carry out an assassination that had to be done that night. In the book, I kind of feel this would've been too much too soon considering Paige was a new character in the series and it wouldn't give time to properly learn about her, however, in a television show, you would learn about her through her actions in each scene so this enabled me to demonstrate her strong, powerful side whereas, in the book, I would use Jorge's observations and conversation to do the same.

It's almost like in a television show or movie, you have to go to greater lengths to drive the point home. You can't be subtle but more like a bull in a china shop. You have to be a little louder, a little more forceful, a little more dramatic and a little more exaggerated. Why? Because it's captivating. It creates anticipation and excitement.

Of course, film and TV are known to cut out a lot from books they are based on, which I can already see I will be doing too. Now that I'm learning about the process, I think it's mainly because of time and budget restraints and also because certain scenes may fall flat on the screen. Also, in a book, you tend to tell the story more than on a show, where you're showing it.

Having said that, I do believe that a movie or television show based on a book should stick very closely to the novel or it simply pisses people off. I can think of one particular movie I watched (after reading the book) that infuriated me. A major, dramatic point in the book was completely changed in the movie, causing me to throw my hands up in the air with a major 'What the fuck!' moment. I know that a lot of factors play into movies (including who funds them) so I can imagine the script went through a lot of hands before coming to fruition.

I still have a lot to learn in this process so this is to be continued.....

Friday, January 4, 2019

Do fairy tale endings really exist?

What's a 'fairytale ending' exactly and do people want them? More importantly, why you'll probably never find one the majority of my books.

This story all started a couple of weeks ago when I received an email from a stranger, let's call her a 'fanemy'. Essentially, in it, she said that she had 'tried' to read my latest book, And the Devil Will Laugh but couldn't through it because she found it troubling that the protagonist, was in essence, not the good guy. Not only was he not the good guy, but he was also winning at being bad.

Of course, this is an unusual concept in books because we are used to seeing a very specific concept in most fiction. There's a protagonist and he/she is the 'good' guy/girl. Then there's another character, usually the 'bad' guy/girl and of course, regardless of the struggles along the way, the 'good guy/girl' always wins. This is what I refer to as the 'fairytale ending'.

Obviously, it's not a 'fairytale' ending in the way you are probably thinking of right off the bat. It's no Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Disney cute ending but rather, nicely folded together that is the fictional version of a hot, cozy bath. It makes people feel good about the fact that the 'good guy/girl' won and the 'bad guy got what he/she deserved'...and they all lived happily ever after.

Or did they?

This is the part where I come in and shake things up. See, I'm not into that kind of ending. I find them a tad predictable and boring. I also find them somewhat unrealistic. Personally, I would prefer to give people something to think about after they finish a book. Kind of in the same way as the final episode of The Sopranos left me with something to think about when the screen went black with no further explanation. This pissed off a lot of people but you know what? Till this day, I still think about that episode and debate with myself about what that meant exactly. I've discussed it with friends and listened to their thoughts on the subject. Had this been the usual, happily ever after ending, I probably would've forgotten it by now or even worse, stopped caring.

The thing is that we, as people, are complex and so is life. Things usually don't end up all good or all bad and people are definitely not saints or sinners. Many people would prefer things were that simplified but they are not. It might work for some people but it doesn't work for me.