The First Draft edition of Father of the Grooms which will likely be published in softcover as Murder, Marriage and Mafia: An American Family Meets their Sicilian Cousins, has been sent to Book Baby for publication as an e-book. It is unusual for authors to publish first drafts of their novels, and I am taking this step because all of the elements of the novel are present from which I can derive the screenplay. Screenplays are often written from novels, but the resulting movie can be quite different from the action and dialog as described in the novel. The reason for this is that the movie is very much driven by the pictorial presentation of the scenes and the character’s dialog. Whereas descriptive passages and even insights in what the characters are thinking might be used in a novel, such actions and thoughts must be most often shown or expressed in dialog between characters, unless the character is literally talking to God or that information is supplied by a narrator’s voice-over.
Entirely new scenes are sometimes employed to flesh out a characters’ personality or help explain some actions that were written as exposition in the novel, but are needed to make these actions part of what seems to be a logical progression of what previously happened. Examples of this in the novel is that I had to derive some reasons why both the grooms and brides-to-be would consider arranged marriages in the 21st century, much less marrying two people they had never met.
To keep the action looking more like real life, there were also some aspects of the characters that were brought out in the novel that were not fully developed which could be exciting scenes in a movie. The brides-to-be have been trained in the use of firearms and knife-fighting since childhood, but I do not have them doing any shooting or knife-fighting in the novel. After the screenplay with such scenes is ready to be sent to potential buyers, such events might be added to the novel along with some of the more interesting dialog sequences developed for the screenplay.
I do not describe the screenplay as being finished, because it never really is until the movie is finalized and gone through final edits. Even while it is being shot, the director or actors might suggest lines that seem more appropriate that those I have written, and these will be substituted on the fly. Some directors tell their actors to develop the scene as they would have written it, and sometimes these independent after-takes make it into the movie. The director’s task is to make the movie as visually appealing to as large an audience as possible, and not be a slave to the screenplay. If something does not work on the screen to accomplish what needs to be shown, then that segment is replaced with an action-dialog sequence that does.
Time on set and running time are also significant considerations in doing the screenplay. Action that may take place over several hours in the book, need to be compressed into minutes to make the movie watchable. Time is also money. The less time that is spent on expensive locations, the more economical the movie is to produce and the more likely that it will actually be done. A screenwriter crafting a screenplay needs to think like an actor, producer, and director. The author has complete liberties to take his characters through time and space without giving any considerations to the real practicalities that movie-making requires so long as he writes a story that his readers can believe. For example, the movie “Avatar” has a completely derived future world, but takes the viewer through action sequences that audiences could relate to and introduces them to characters that they could like and despise.
The novel took nine months to complete to the First Draft stage after I returned from a fact-finding trip to Sicily. This exploration of the island added considerably to the novel in that my experiences enriched the descriptions of the scenes and places visited by my fictional American family and suggested activities that they would participate in. The novel would have been a much dryer and less accurate work if I had relied solely on published print and video sources. I could have physically written the same numbers of chapters and words, but not nearly so well. From my building the first mental concepts of the novel to finishing the First Draft version his taken five years. It also might be argued that it has taken a lifetime, because, like all authors, some of my life experiences have made it into the book.
I have some intervening, but related, tasks to get out of the way. One is to build the knife that I show on the cover of the book and another is to assemble a .69-caliber 1777 Dragoon Year IX flintlock musket and take a wild boar with it, as I describe one of my characters doing in the novel. The knife and musket will be built in my shop. They will first appear in videos. Both will later appear in the movie, and one or both may be featured on the softcover for the book. Once these are underway, I will start on the screenplay which will take about four months to complete.
If you wish to help me with this project you may by buying the First Draft edition of the novel on Amazon.com or from other e-commerce book sources for $4.99. The e-book should be available on Amazon about March 19, 2020. You can also get a free app that will enable you to read this book on any computer at: http://www.adobe.com/products/digital-editions/download.html .