A Story Is A Play Is A Novel Is A Show

The first time I changed formats/mediums was in university. I’d written a short story about a girl who realizes her boyfriend’s interest is moreso in the fact that theirs is an interracial relationship than in her. (It would be giving it too much credit to believe the execution lived up to that, since what I mostly remember is the character fumbling with the inconsistencies of what you’d expect your partner to “get”, what level of social maturity/critiquing in which you’d expect they could participate.)

I decided the story was better served as a screenplay, a decision probably not unrelated to the fact that moving from high school into university cut my performances by about 90%. No marching band, no color guard, no repertory theatre, no drill team. But that’s not the point.

The process of transposing a story from the page to the stage or screen is such an exciting (to me) experience. It’s also (sometimes) frustrating, stumping, illuminating, a dozen other things. My willingness/need to do this – not only when I realize a story is better suited to something other than a short story, novella or novel, but also when it would simply be an interesting variation to see it that way in addition – is probably why I’ve always taken exception with people who insist on comparing novels to their film adaptations. Or more accurately, comparing films to their source books. It. Is. Not. The. Same. It’s not supposed to be, it couldn’t possibly be. Get on with it.

So, upon hearing about the Sci-fest (the Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival)

…I decided to take one of my short stories – one that wouldn’t exceed the 20 min run time – and transpose it into a stage play. It was actually pretty easy to make the choice, not just based on length but also on what I thought I could most effectively stage on a budget. (The flash trilogy about planets having their own unique soul conditions or my beloved Jigsaw, whose synopsis is available on my Writing page, did not quite fit this bill.)

The clear choice was Caroline Samir is Alive and Well.

And then I got stuck.

Not inorganically, which is just another way of saying the pause in the process was necessary, but still. Frustration. (Mostly because I had other deadlines…) Because pretty early on, it was apparent that the choice Caroline makes in the short story would not be emotionally satisfying or even possibly defensible on stage. Which means that I needed to reimagine her decision for the physical audience that (if not at sci-fest then someday and somewhere else!) would be watching. And of course it still had to be consistent with who she is.

The good thing about Caroline herself, and one of the reasons I knew this story was the right one to use, is that she is very boldly herself. Probably irritatingly so, for some. Myself included if I had to spend more than 5000 words with her, to be honest. But that possibly made it a bit easier to think of another way her choice would manifest.

So, long story short (not really, we’ve already been here a while, no?), the ending of the stage play is completely different from the ending of the short story. Necessarily so. And I love that.

And don’t get me started on transitioning a novel into a tv series.

Have you ever rewritten a story for a different medium? Did you love it? (Objection. Leading.)

Yes, it *IS* bold to end a blog post with a question when your once conversational community may be gone forever, which is totally your own fault for not blogging in like ever.

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2 thoughts on “A Story Is A Play Is A Novel Is A Show

    • And just, you know, because you were upset about the way the short story ended, lol. 😉

      Joshua, this is neither the time nor the place to disparage a film you know I love, no matter how actually relevant to the conversation! Ahem.

      Like

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