Saturday, June 29, 2013

From Page To Screen

By Marie Lilly
I thought it would be an easy peasy assignment--to adapt Madelle Morgan’s romance novel 
Marie Lilly
"Diamond Lust” into a screenplay, that is.  After all, Madelle did what I considered to be the hardest part--creating an engaging story from nothing more than an idea. 

 DL has a strong and sympathetic hero in Petra Paris--a feisty geologist on a secret mission to gather evidence from an isolated diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  Her undercover cop Love Interest, Seth Lunden, is a Han Solo at his finest, and his relationship with Petra sizzles with tension.  The sub-arctic summer vistas Madelle lovingly and intimately describes made me want to go there, and her dialogue made me smile.

My first marketable draft of Rough Diamonds (the screenplay version of DL) was a romance movie very faithful to the source material.  It was immediately requested for consideration by a movie star’s production company and the response was mercifully quick:  my screenplay wasn’t what they were looking for, try the Hallmark channel instead.  My translation:  "We are looking for great scripts for our leading man to star in.  The star of your script is a woman." 

Then a local director read RD and offered to direct and produce it.   But first, he wanted to see a South African character in it.  I added an Afrikaaner, raised the stakes and created international conflict.  Seth became the main character and Petra became his Love Interest.  RD was elevated from a small screen suspenseful romance to a big screen detective story.

As of today we are continuing to develop the director's visionThroughout the story variations we've played with, Madelle's winning concept and characterizations for Petra and Seth survive intact.  Hmmm, if RD becomes an international hit, maybe she'll write a sequel...



Madelle Morgan said...

From working with Marie, I learned that Hollywood wants a strong male protagonist in screenplays for Action films. That is, if I write a Thriller from the start, rather than a Romantic Suspense, it is far easier for a screenwriter to adapt.

I also had to accept that my precious characters had to morph and their story change for a commercial screenplay, which is in the end only "inspired by" my book. The screenwriter has a different vision that is more effective for the screen.

Thank you, Marie, for teaching me so much about adapting novels into film.

Paty Jager said...

It is amazing the things a book has to go through to make it "movie" ready. There are so many areas that a screen writer has to make more appealing to a visual audience.

Thank you for being a guest and giving us ore insight into screen writing.

Judith Ashley said...

Marie, We're so glad you could join us and share with us what it takes to write a screenplay from a romance novel. Lots of great information!

Marie said...

Hi Judith,
Thanks again for the opportunity to contribute to your blog. Nora Roberts has had a number of her novels, with female protagonists intact, adapted for television, so it can be done.

However, my director is morphing Rough Diamonds into an action-adventure big-screen movie, with the focus on capturing the diamond smuggler with romance as a subplot.

Marie said...

Hi Paty,
One thing that attracted me to Diamond Lust was the vivid visual descriptions in the novel that made me fall in love with the north.

In a screenplay, that gets translated into:


Makes my job easier, though :-)! ML

Diana McCollum said...

Fascinating what all a book goes through to become a screen play! Great post!

Sarah Raplee said...

LOL! Don't you love irony, Marie?

Your post is really interesting. Can't wait to see the movie!

Marie said...

Hi Diana, I'm certainly enjoying the ride for as long as it lasts.

It's not unusual for a screenplay to be rewritten many times before it's filmed. I've even heard that at times a movie story is "made" in the editing room, after the filming has been completed.

With a romance novel, often the most fun and delicious insights and emotions happen inside the minds of the characters.

Movies (moving pictures) must reveal insight and emotion via character actions and dialogue only; using a voice-over to express inner thoughts or emotions is generally regarded as weak screenwriting. "Show, not tell".

That's why the process from novel to screenplay truly is an "adaptation", ML

Marie said...

Hi Sarah,

I can't wait to see the movie, as well.

I know who I'd cast as Seth and Petra! ML

Linda Poitevin said...

Hey, Marie! *waves* Such a wonderful adventure that you and Madelle have embarked on. Having read the book, I'd have to would make a great movie! Best of luck bringing it to life!!