Friday, July 22, 2016
Novel and Screenplay
I had an interesting conversation with my son yesterday about writing screenplays. Lucas is a husband, father and genius software developer. He's also a gifted blues/jazz pianist.
Like me, he enjoys learning new things and tapping into his creative side. He's been interested in learning to write screenplays and asked me for wisdom and guidance. (That's the cool thing about being a mom and a writer. Just sayin'.)
We discussed the differences between the novel and the screenplay formats. He thought it would be helpful to read a novel and then read the screenplay adaptation of the story.
At first I thought he should read an original screenplay and not an adaptation, but the more I thought about it, I agreed that he was right. I suggested he read Peter Benchley's novel "Jaws" - and then tackle the screenplay, also written by Benchley along with Carl Gottlieb. This film is a perfect example of excellent storytelling.
The novel is captivating. The first chapter thrusts you into the world of this shark. The reader experiences everything the shark experiences and we become one with it. We share its view of life in the deep and what it needs to survive, which is its primary purpose.
The story tells of three characters and their personal relationship to the shark - Brody, the police chief who escaped the stress of being a big city cop to live in a peaceful island community. Ironically, he fears the water. Hooper, the scientist who is obsessed with sharks and goes after the shark for glory and fame. And Quint, the rugged fisherman who sees this shark as an enemy he must defeat, exacting vengeance on his fellow soldiers who were killed by sharks in World War II on the USS Indiana. The relationships among the three men and with the shark is what makes this story so compelling.
The screenplay shows that Benchley kept key elements of the story, and with Gottlieb's screenwriting skill, they transformed the novel into the perfect blueprint for Spielberg's film.
Whether you're writing a novel, a short story, a screenplay or a stage play, its ALL ABOUT THE STORY! If you don't have a good story, you don't have anything.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Lucas comes up with for a story idea for his screenplay. We always have fun brainstorming story ideas together.