Man Bites Dog

22 07 2016

If a man can write a dog of a screenplay, can a dog write a script with humanity? I tried my paw…left, then right. I’m ambidextrous. A feat for a quadruped. Make that feet. The advantage, clear, no?

At any rate, this little canine wrote a second novel, yet to be released, and out of the blue it optioned for film, and I, contracted to try adaptation. Relatively new at manipulating the keyboard, anything having to do with film (beyond Asta and the Thin Man or Lassie Returns) is totally perplexing. I watched The Wild Prairie last week and spent the best part (creatures going to ground) trying to burrow between the wall and the television. As far as I know there’s still a meerkat family back there, though they clearly bathe twice a day, because no scent exists.Meerkat5

So…movies. I recently read that if a novel is a poem, a screenplay is a telegram. No small exercise for a verbose canine with an e-thesaurus. The good news: novels are built from the skeleton out. Bones I know.polishing_bones_deer_bone_db

Sniff out the main artery of any story and therein lies the heart. Write the heart, make sure each scene speaks to the ending, trim the dialogue until it sings (especially if it’s a musical) and, voilà, the essence of the tale ready for film…until a wad of producers hire others to re-piece the work into, at times, something only Frankenstein’s mother could love. But I digress.

Since completing said script, I realize that adapting a novel for film is the perfect exercise for every novelist, whether or not they want their work on the screen. Adaptation forces clean, sensible, streamlined writing, something even the literary writer needs in their toolbox. And, for those who have difficulty finding the real meaning in their work, a good logline written and posted above the workspace, keeps the message on track.sniff

And like any good dog, once that scent is picked up, it’s easier to stay on the trail.



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