Monday, August 30, 2010

TIED IN: "The Most Fascinating, Entertaining, and Honest Book About The Writing Life..."

From author/editor/publisher Ed Gorman's blog:

I say this without a whit of exaggeration TIED-IN edited by Lee Goldberg and written by Lee and other members of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is the most fascinating, entertaining and honest book about the writing life I've ever read.

With writers such as Max Allan Collins, Tod Goldberg, Nancy Holder, Donald Bain, Greg Cox, William Rabkin and many others dealing with their experiences of converting movies, tv shows, movies and games into novels, we see the pleasures and frustrations of this particular craft. And in the process we see what life is really like for professional writers. Max Collins' piece on converting his own Road To Perdition to conform to the movie script for the tie-in; his dealings with the Dick Tracy movie were even stranger. Nancy Holder's take on visiting the set of the tv show she was novelizing shows just how brutal fourteen hour days are for everybody involved in creating the episodes. A number of writers use a page or so of script to show how it looks as prose after they've done their work--extremely helpful. 

Greg Cox tells some fascinating stories about writing sequels then prequels and keeping storylines straight; and Lee does an excellent job setting the book up with his piece called Tied In: The Business, History and Craft of Media Tie-In Writing.

TIED-IN is rich with humor, lore, wisdom about the writing life and Lee Goldberg is to be commended for editing it with such verve and style.

And his brother Tod is to be commended for writing the best line in the book. Lamenting that his literary novels have not sold a great number of copies, he writes "I'd need the Jaws of Life to pull me on to the bestseller list."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

James Cameron disses novelizations -- in other news, sun rises in east

James Cameron provided the following gem while discussing his forthcoming Avatar novel with MTV:
I didn't want to do a cheesy novelization, where some hack comes in and kind of makes s--t up. I wanted to do something that was a legitimate novel that was inside the characters' heads and didn't have the wrong culture stuff, the wrong language stuff, all that.

Yeah, heaven forfend a writer make shit up. That might be, I dunno, fiction or something!

More seriously, novelizers have to make shit up because a movie only has a long short story's worth of actual plot in it. If you're gonna get a novel-length story in there, you have to add stuff.

Whether or not that shit is true to the film generally depends on the level of cooperation the film studio provides the publisher of the novelization. As a for-instance, the producers of Darkness Falls were hugely helpful, providing me with a ton of backstory that didn't make it into the final cut of the movie. As another, the producers of Resident Evil: Extinction encouraged me to add a ton of material -- lots and lots of "making shit up" -- to bridge the gap between Apocalypse and Extinction, and also to fill in what was happening with the Jill Valentine character. As a third, Serenity had fourteen hours of televised episodes of Firefly as additional background.

And sometimes producers don't cooperate at all and the novelizers don't have a choice to make shit up. That's not hack work, that's writing and creating. But, y'know, it's just prose, so it doesn't count. It's not real writing, not like a script is.... *rolleyes*

As ever, I am amused by the fact that a writer who adds plot and characterization to an existing story in order to make a movie into a novel is dismissed by people like Cameron as hacks, while screenwriters who (ahem) hack away at a novel's story and remove huge chunks of it in order to whittle it down to a movie's length get their own Academy Award category.

This is why we formed the IAMTW, to combat this obscene prejudice against our craft. Ignorant comments like Cameron's are a good reminder of how far we have to go.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tudors Novelization Wins Praise

Elizabeth Massie, the Scribes, TIED IN and the IAMTW all get some attention in this article in the Waynesboro News-Leader. They say, in part:

As a writer of original works, Massie's "Tudors" projects presented her with some unique challenges.
Massie, 56, was sent scripts for each episode and then wrote the season into one book at the same time it was being filmed in Ireland.
The books had to be loyal to the show, but the scripts, as they tend to be, were scant in details and description.
So Massie had to conduct historical research to bring the story alive on the page.
"The script would say something like, 'King Henry enters the room. He sits on a chair. He starts to talk,'" she said. "I had to fill in details of the way things looked, what they ate, how long did it take to get from London to Hever Castle (by horse and carriage). Things like that."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

TIED IN - The Paperback

For those of you without a Kindle, the trade paperback edition of TIED IN is now available here. It will soon be available on Amazon as well.