Let’s Make a Movie!
I’ve have often been told that I write “cinematically”. I don’t know what that means exactly, but like most writers I’d love to have a movie made of one of my books. And for the past few years, I’ve been experimenting with writing scripts. I took a seminar on how to flip novels into scripts, bought a few books and worked on what are known as “spec” scripts. Scripts that no one has commissioned, but you feel like writing anyway. I find that concept hilarious. No one calls a writer’s unpublished novel a “spec” novel. Although, I suppose that it is. I find the script writing process interesting, the format challenging, and the idea that I could see my work on the big screen exciting.
What I’ve Learned
Along the way I’ve found out some interesting things. I’ve also found that a novella is about the perfect length to make a TV length movie. A full novel is… a lot. Which makes me even MORE impressed with those adaptations that managed to be something great or even come close to capturing the flare of the original novel. For instance, I believe Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson who adapted LA Confidential has earned a place in screenwriting heaven–James Ellroy’s novel was massive, sprawling and noir to the bone. The movie managed to condense it down and make it acceptably noir to audiences (which is to say we had characters that we actually liked). If you haven’t seen–go watch it. If you haven’t read it… meh. Only read if you like (well-written) dark heart of humanity stuff where no one is an actually good person.
I’ve also begun to question whether anyone in Hollywood actually reads. With novels, an author finds a beta reader(s) to critique the book and then we polish it up. After that we send off a synopsis and blurb and maybe a few pages to an agent or publisher, who probably has the intern vet the submissions (completely reasonable). If it ticks their boxes they ask for the complete manuscript and read it. With movies… You pitch something to someone (if you know the someone) based on a logline. And if they like it you send in a one sheet with the blurb or synopsis and pitch it MORE. But to get someone to actually reads the full script and give a critique or edits? For that you have to submit to a contest or pay someone. So novels have a more clear cut path forward and movies are a bit… scrap it out and hope you get lucky.
Successes so Far
But… I did get lucky! Through the help of a random friend on Twitter (or whatever it’s being called this week) I sold a script based on my short story Suzy Makes Cupcakes. It is currently making the festival circuit and picking awards and nominations as it goes. And now I have a credit on IMDB (Internet Movie Database). How crazy is that? Suzy won’t be available to watch by the general public until next year, but if you want to read the story it was based on, you can check it out in Shotgun Honey: Recoil.
Have I learned anything else from making a movie?
I’ve learned that movies are far more collaborative than I even pictured. I’ve learned that an actor can make something I wrote absolutely sing. And I’ve learned that watching having something I wrote exist outside my head is a little bit trippy. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Ahhhh…. The Islands
Sounds so dreamy and vacation-y, doesn’t it? I’m working on book four of my San Juan Islands Mystery series. A book that I have been swearing that I will get to for about three years. And I’m finally doing it! And good lordy do I hate the islands. It’s not vacation. It’s a slog. All of which is completely unfair to the islands. It’s not their fault that I’ve been procrastinating. Or that I named three different people Cooper. Or that I chucked out at least three different plots before I got to this one.
So Whose Fault is it?
Oh. Yeah. It’s mine. But taking responsibility really throws off a good rant. Part of the problem is that past self did not set me up for success. At three books in, you would think that I would do what I usually do with a series – start a spreadsheet. Keeping a spreadsheet of characters names, a general description, and what books they appear in really cuts back on how many people are named Cooper. (We’re now down to one. The other two got magical name changes.) But when I started the series I didn’t intend for it to be a series. It was supposed to be a fun standalone mystery about an ex-actress and her ex-CIA agent grandfather solving mysteries in the islands of Washington State. The problem is that Tish and Tobias Yearly are funny and fun to hang out with. Also, they just keep finding bodies, so… they keep needing more books. It is not my fault. It’s theirs. Blame the Yearlys.
And What Are You Going to do About it?
Keep better notes? I really am trying this time. I revived the spreadsheet. Added all those extra people I forgot about. And I’m swear I’m this close >< to being done with book 4 – An Unfinished Storm. Tish and Tobias are battling life, love, and Hollywood and trying to keep a police detective from jumping to some very wrong conclusions.
If you’re interested in Tish and Tobias Yearlys journey through the San Juan Islands, you can find out more from all the usual book selling suspects or here: https://bethanymaines.com/sanjuanislandmysteries/
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/451NLZd
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/series?id=1YunGwAAABBzkM
- Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/series/san-juan-islands-mysteries
- Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/an-unseen-current/id972715041
- Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-unseen-current-bethany-maines/1121332046?ean=9780692384268
Alekos Now Available!
Whew! I’ve made it to summer and the final (for now) book of my Rejects Pack trilogy. Alekos wraps up the storyline started in the books 1 and 2 (Hudson & Killian) in what I hope is a satisfactory conclusion. Hint: I’m trying to tell you there’s a Happily Ever After without giving away any spoilers.
This series tested my creativity in quite a few ways. I actually started Alekos first and then went back and wrote the first two installments. This created a challenge in that the first two books were therefore more honed in to their themes and where they had to end up in order for book three to make sense. But that also meant that I had to a fair bit of editing on Alekos in order to make all the little plot jigsaw pieces line up.
I also started it during the pandemic and then was faced with the decision to include or not include the pandemic in the text. I ended up choosing to include it but with only light mentions rather than as a plot point. One of the most curious things about the 1918 Influenza epidemic is that it seemed virtually unmentioned in fiction of the time. It was certainly influential as a theme, but most of us haven’t ever read a story that features masks or other remnants of that outbreak. When that was first pointed out, I couldn’t understand why. It seems notable and worth a short story or two to try and capture the moment. I did write one Covid piece of short fiction based on the drag races that sprang up during the lock downs (Fireball Rolled a Seven – Crimecucopia Funny Ha Ha edition), but writers have seen very sharp opinions from readers about mentioning the pandemic in novels mostly they don’t like it. Reading is for escape and bringing Covid back into the escapist fantasy isn’t always wanted. However, it was one of the hurdles my heroine had to overcome, so I left it in without dwelling on it. Hopefully, readers now have had enough distance that seeing a mention of a mask in fiction won’t send them scurrying for the door.
What to Expect
But I think I rose to meet the challenges of crafting a Indiana Jones / The Mummy inspired series that gives magical new worlds, globe trotting adventures, and mythological beings, archaeological mysteries, and one very pissed off ancient Egyptian mummy(ish) person. And I can’t wait for readers to be able to share the complete (for now) adventures of the Rejects Pack.
Buy Now: https://amzn.to/3l32CAL
Learn more: Supernaturals
Alpha wolf, Alexander Ash has forged a family dedicated to finding a cure for the magical wasteland that has stretched across Greece since the devastating Night of 1000 deaths. But on the brink of finally being able to right the wrongs fate has dealt, Alex meets translator Eliandra Smith and finds himself called to her in a way he can’t explain. But as Lia is swept into Alex’s world of mystical beings, magic, and deadly ancient wars, they soon discover that she is tied more closely to his past that she could have imagined. And Alex discovers she might also be the one thing that can kill them all.