I gave Script Frenzy a solid shot this year. I plotted out my movie in advance, fixed all the plot holes, had some blockbuster cinematic moments planned. I started writing the script, got about five pages into it, and realized something. I’m not a screenwriter anymore. I’m a novelist.
I used to joke that I was a screenwriter trapped in novelist’s body, a nod to my very visual, very action-oriented style of prose. And I used to really enjoy screenwriting. I read movie scripts the way other people read novels. I watched movies constantly, seeing probably close to 100 films a year and rewatching lots of favorites.
The problem is I don’t do that anymore. I see maybe 20 movies a year, probably closer to a dozen. For my leisure time, I’m usually reading a book (well, an ebook). I just don’t have time to devote a couple hours at a time to sitting in one place and watching a story from beginning to end.
I got into screenwriting in the first place because I didn’t think I had the patience for novels. I’d just finished Between Heaven and Hell and hadn’t been able to make any serious headway on the sequel. Screenplays were shorter, simpler, and more active. They capitalized on what were my strengths at the time, action and dialogue. And I had a blast learning how to write screenplays.
But that was over 10 years ago. In the intervening decade, I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, and all in either narrative (novels) or essay (articles) style. And in the process, I’ve lost the eye of my inner screenwriter. I don’t see stories through a camera anymore. I see them from the omniscient viewpoint of a novel’s narrator.
The work I did getting the story put together isn’t going to be wasted, though. The more I wrote on the screenplay version of Titanus, the more I wanted to write it as a novel. My favorite books when I was younger were Michael Crichton’s Congo and Jurassic Park (long before either became a movie). More recently I’ve discovered writers like James Rollins (Amazonia, Subterranean) and Jeff Rovin (Fatalis, Vespers) who also managed to find that mix of science and adventure that made Crichton’s best work so good. Titanus is my shot at joining their ranks with a science-oriented thriller, and I think it will work just as well, if not better, as a novel as a movie.
If, for no other reason, that I’m a novelist now.