Douglas Milewski (dacuteturtle) wrote,
Douglas Milewski

Script Games

When I'm in the car, sometimes I play games with script writing. No, not coding. I mean converting books into films.

This week's challenge to myself was to develop Dragonflight into a film. That turned into actual work.

The challenge with writing anything Pern related is that the IP was never static. So when converting a book, do you stick to the book, or do you use the IP as it eventually became developed through the series? I leaned towards the latter.

There are also absurdities. F'lar killed the leader of half the planet and his soldiers did nothing, and his supporters pretty much disappear from the books. That's not how people work.

Dragonflight began as novellas. Each was fairly stand-alone. They were group into the book Dragonflight. So making a film out of Dragonflight becomes hard as you have three stories to tell, none of which really justifies the production budget.

We have a lead female character, the center of the stories, who starts out pretty much doing nothing. OK, she does a little bit, but really, she doesn't do enough.

Then we have to actually introduce a vast amount of information, but we don't want talking heads just blathering on like encyclopedias. In fact, you want some critical information to come out early, and other bits can come out as you go. So we have the pacing of information.

Next, you need to pick and choose characters. Robinton doesn't show up early at all, having been developed later, but his personality is rather critical through the films, so you want his presence. Likewise, you want to set up characters for later films, so some characters may need to be bumped, promoted, or demoted, depending on how you need them in two films.

We have cinematic license. Books simply don't translate into film and vice-versa. The goal here is to change characters and situations so that they make sense in the film, and exhibit their personalities, even though these exact events may differ from the book. This is the stuff that makes the fans attack you like a band of Dionysian women, but it must be done.

Finally, what's really important for the film that you want to make? You can't keep all information and all subplots. You must pick and choose. Some of the book must be left on the cutting room floor. Which parts do you keep and which parts do you trash? And when some subplots are trashed, or even major plots, you must re-jigger the surviving plots and themes, sometimes inventing new bits of technobabble along the way.

In the end, I had fun working out this script in my head, and if it were made, I guarantee you the die-hard fans would rend me like Orpheus.

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