story on film
By nelle douville on July 30, 2011
Few writers ever see their work published. Fewer still see their published work make the jump from printed word to acted scenes, whether live performance or recorded film. Yet, all of our stories already exist in imagery, we just tend to forget where it first played…
in our minds. My stories may develop from one sentence, a genesis sparked into life by assemblage of a few words. I’ll probe outward from there, testing direction, testing ease of movement versus the push back of resistance. The story will tell me which direction is right.
By the third paragraph of a new story, the scene is in my mind. Maybe it is a solitary person out in a field or forest, or on the edge line between both. Perhaps a storm approaches, and the woman I see is scared. Maybe she cares not, and watches with fascination the exchange of clear sky for the grey scale of storm. The change of environment reflects some unknown turmoil she contends with within, her flagging sense of flee indication of her not yet knowing how to find her way past the anonymous issue. It could be the as yet unnamed character seems content to let the forces of nature take its best shot, her way out feeling best left to ambivalence in the onslaught of powerful natural phenomena.
From that point in writing a vision is in my head, and I move toward closure with the character. It is an out of body experience, observation of her angst induced inertia and situation. Going forward, I’ll hear the conversations that brought her here, her decisions on what to do next, how she is extricated, or I’ll feel her waken from nightmarish slumber, ready to tell her real story.
Mental films are our yellow brick road, a meandering path we take as we begin to write new fiction. We don’t know who we’ll meet on our journey, what we might see or witness, or where it will take us, other than to story’s end.
By the time a writer’s work reaches actual film, the work is transformed, jumped into the mind of another and regurgitated through the lens of that new person’s perspective. What emerges is a different creature than the ethereal mental film that formed the story out of nothingness.
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