By Lenora Livingston
Typically, a book is written prior to being adapted to a screenplay. However, I chose to do the reverse because of how my story developed. When I was in the heart of the greatest miracle of my life, in an instant I saw events from the three previous decades flash before me like a movie in fast forward. I knew at that moment, without a doubt in my mind, that God had just revealed a powerful story and He wanted me to share it with others as a feature film.
I could see clearly how God had choreographed events in my life, carrying me through my darkest hours, while at the same time answering my prayers in ways that would not have become apparent to me until decades later. He had been laying the groundwork for answering my longest running prayer in His way and His time. Because this amazing experience presented itself to me as a film in fast forward, I first wrote Where’s Stephanie? as a screenplay.
Rather than pursing it as a screenplay at that time, I used the screenplay as an outline to write Where’s Stephanie? as a novel. Having written it in the form of a screenplay first really helped guide me through the writing process. However, certain changes need to be made. The settings and scene descriptions were already established and only needed to be expanded. The tenses had to be changed throughout, because my book needed to be written in the past tense and screenplays are written in the present tense. Also, in the screen play each person speaks for himself, but in the novel, the writing had to be changed to the third person, describing the character’s thoughts and motives. Whereas, in a screenplay the viewer has to interpret the character’s motives based on their interpretations and the actions of the actors, plus the viewers own point of view.
Formatting a screenplay can be extremely complicated compared to a novel. Whether writing a novel or a screenplay, I highly recommend purchasing and downloading a program that covers both screenplays and novels and automatically formats your work as you type it into your computer. Also, be sure to choose a program that does not charge a fee when you call their suggested “Help” number when you are learning how to use it.
There are many reference books covering screenplay formatting. The two that were the most helpful to me were The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats, Part 1: The Screenplay by Cole/Haag and The Screenwriter’s Bible, A complete Guide to Writing, formatting and Selling Your Script, 6th Edition, Expanded & Updated By David Trottier.
When my novel was completed, an independent film maker who read it contacted me through my agent. He said he saw Where’s Stephanie? as either a full feature film or a three-part mini-series. My agent and I were both very pleased to tell him that I had already written a screenplay.
The film is now two-thirds finished being filmed. The first one-third, which has a beginning, middle, and end, can stand alone. It is now being submitted to film festivals. While we are waiting for results from film festivals, we will be working on the rest of film.
It is my prayer that this BLOG will benefit those who envision their novel as a film. Jesus said three times, “Never give up.”Writing from Book to Film @lenoraliving #ACFWBlogs www.acfw.com/blog Click To Tweet
Besides books, Lenora Livingston has written short stories; newspapers articles, and school programs, including a “Character Education Word-of-the-Month” program. She earned a BA and MAT from University of South Carolina, plus continued post masters studies at The Citadel.