Sunday, December 04, 2011
BOM: The Writing
The Nativity Story is showing in schools in Virginia . . . very cool.
When the movie came out, my neighborhood book club went to see it together--and I enjoyed the film even more the second time! Maybe I was more relaxed, or maybe this time I wasn't as intent on noticing the differences between book and film. In any case, I highly recommend it. Don't wait--get out to see it at your first available opportunity! Here's a link to a review of the film by CT.
The writing--not much to say here, except that "the writing" went hand-in-hand with "the research" because whenever I came to a new scene in the screenplay, I checked the historical details with my reference books.
In writing the novel, I wanted to honor the structure of the screenplay, and I wanted to stick to the dialogue as much as possible. I didn't want the novel to read like a completely different critter. It is a novelization of a screenplay, so I wanted to respect Mike's excellent work--he had some great lines of dialogue, and they're in the book. But because the screenplay kept evolving (they were filming as I was writing), I also felt free to let the characters speak for themselves. Characters have a way of coming to life, you know, and sometimes they just kept talking.
A screenplay is action and dialogue. A novel is description, scenery, exposition, dialogue, and interior monologue. The advantage of a novel is that the reader and writer can really get into a character's head, so I did. I did constrain myself, however, and didn't let myself get sidetracked or take off in a completely different direction. No new subplots, no additional characters. And the only scenes I added were necessary, I felt, either to flesh out the history or the background of the action in the screenplay. I added scenes of Mary and Joseph dedicating Jesus in the Temple because I felt it was important to the timeline and because I wasn't under the same time crunch the filmmakers faced. Plus, it was historical, and THE reason Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem for some time--until the angel told them to flee to Egypt.
This is the only novel-from-screenplay that I've published, and I knew that the final work would have to be approved by the people at New Line Cinema. I knew my job was to respect the screenplay and the film while bringing the story to life in the form of a novel.
When I saw the movie, I noticed that some new dialogue cropped up as they filmed . . . and some scenes that were in the screenplay didn't make it into the movie. I know that's nothing unusual, and I'm glad that I wasn't bound to a time frame or word count in which to tell this incredible story. I admire screenwriters, but I love being a novelist.
Tomorrow: the editing.