Recycled Writing: From Script to Book
I’ve long been an advocate for repurposed writing.
After finishing my latest novella, part of an anthology of teen-led Noir stories to be published later this year, I realized it is the final work that I have adapted from one of my original, unproduced screenplays.
In another lifetime, I made a modest living penning for-hire scripts. In between jobs I wrote several feature-length scripts on spec, none of which were ever made into a film. Instead of letting them exist in perpetual limbo, I opted to give them another chance at life as prose works.
Here are all the stories that I’ve adapted from my screenplays:
DEAD SIZE (original script title LAST STAND OF THE LILLIES)
The narrative for this Dark Fiction novel follows the script pretty closely, with a couple of new subplots woven in. Different drafts of the script had three alternate endings. I chose the 1st draft version for the book. It’s the least commercial of the endings, but I always felt it fit the story best in both tone and theme.
The screenplay for this Noir-inspired story contained more fantasy elements to cinematically represent the delusional mind of its 15-year-old female protagonist. The novella is written in diary form from her POV. The first person approach allowed me to present the reader almost exclusively with her skewed way of thinking. I think it’s a more immersive experience than a film would have been.
SUITABLE FOR FRAMING (excerpted from script CLEAN LIVING)
One of the very first screenplays I wrote, way back in high school(!), was an ensemble piece of alternating stories set in New York City. One of those became the basis for this short story, a dark meditation on art. It’s probably my favorite work of writing in terms of how effectively narrative and theme came together.
THE BOY WHO CRIED ALIEN (excerpted from script HAILING SULLIVAN)
A few years ago, I wrote an offbeat Sci-Fi spec script for a production company, about a man who exposes America’s (space) alien research program. While the film never launched, I was able to salvage a portion of the screenplay—an 8-page flashback sequence—to fashion this short story.
I derived this short story from the first and second acts of the feature screenplay of the same title. Of all my spec scripts, this one got the most “buzz” from Hollywood folk… albeit for a substantially revised version that transformed it from a dark comedy into a mainstream one. Since neither ultimately sold, I (of course) adapted the darker version.
THE DEVIL’S DELINQUENTS (original script title BOYS’ RITES)
This early screenplay had once been optioned by a small prodco, but once again was never made into a movie. The story of 90s “Satanic Panic” is perhaps the most faithful adaptation of one of my scripts, its sole significant change being a major male character in the screenplay becoming a femme fatale in the novella, necessitating the new title.