This is like a continuation of my post about my experience using Scrivener. One of my current projects in that experimentation of the software, is working on a novel manuscript. This project is massive in scope. I developed it originally as a small neo-noir/science fiction thriller then tried expanding it into a continuing series. The problem now is that I am undecided whether to aim it at becoming a mini-series, TV series, graphic novel, a multi-part feature film series or condensing it into a standalone feature.
Regardless of my decision, I have been writing segments of prose in trying to get a feel for the tone of the story. Part of my decision to experiment in writing a script this way came from what I read about Quentin Tarantino and his writing process. The only difference is that I will continue to work with a computer rather than writing it out by hand (Sorry, QT!).
“My pen is my antenna to God. You can’t write poetry with a computer.” – Quentin Tarantino
“:(” – me
Here’s a quote from a Cinescape Interview via The Quentin Tarantino Archives [rest of the interview: http://www.tarantino.info/wiki/index.php/Cinescape_Interview].
CS: What is your writing process?
TARANTINO: I write scripts the way other writers write books, not the way other writers write scripts. I don’t write on a computer. I write it by hand. I don’t have any 3×5 cards and no spine and I don’t go, “this happens here, that happens there.” I have a pretty good idea what is going to happen. The whole process is finding it. I know this is probably going to happen, but getting there is half the thing. It’s very free form.
In an interview with Elvis Mitchell, the last question to Tarantino has him go on a riff that starts with his dislike of people who say lines without knowing what they are talking about. He finds it important for actors to know the back story of their characters and that it is the creator’s duty to be able to answer any questions that may arise. Then the conversation goes deeper in creating the mythology of a story’s universe. Even if facts and information are not explicitly said or used in the final movie, he finds it important for subtext.
Here’s the video clip of that interview… it’s already cued up for you to watch [4:15 to 7:51].
Now, here’s me trying to make a connection: I think this is one of the main reasons why he writes his scripts first in the novel format. It’s the best way to develop back stories, motives, thoughts and explaining references. There’s a lot more to be said about Tarantino and his writing but for me, this is what makes a lot of sense. Is it the best or only way to write a script? Of course not but it’s an interesting approach. I find so many aspiring writer-directors who look up to him focus on replicating his dialogue to sound hip or cool, but it doesn’t sound genuine. Tarantino writes the way he does because he knows what the hell he’s talking about and our bullshit meter doesn’t twitch an inch. Well, at least for me.
Side note: I’m also reminded about James Cameron and his scriptments: a piece of document that is pretty much an expanded treatment with important scenes flushed out into screenplay format. But, in his scriptments, he also focuses a lot more on back story and inner voices of characters (if I’m remembering correctly). To see what I mean, download his scriptment of Avatar here via mypdfscripts.
For my own neo-noir/sci-fi project, I’m going to continue writing it in the novel format. Then later I can decide to keep it as a novel or adapt it into a screenplay. I think the only con of writing this way is that the adapting part will take a long time or to find the right ending.
Before I end this post, here’s an interesting quote by Neil Gaiman:
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you. Tarantino – you can criticize everything that Quentin does – but nobody writes Tarantino stuff like Tarantino. He is the best Tarantino writer there is, and that was actually the thing that people responded to – they’re going ‘this is an individual writing with his own point of view’. There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better – there are all those kinds of things, but there’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.”
I shall update more on my progress as time goes by. Wish me luck on this writing experiment!