After focusing on screenplays for several years, and after some exciting successes in the competition circuit, my writing partner and I decided to switch story making gears and squeeze our creative juices into writing a book instead of a screenplay.
Although movies are more glamorous than books in many ways, we felt like one lonely voice auditioning for a very big choir. As we all know, the screenwriter is not the primary creative artist on a film. Movie making is a highly collaborative process, with the screenwriter’s job being to develop an idea into a compelling story—then to step back and let the rest of the team fill in the blanks and bring it to life. But more often than not, because movies require such a huge financial investment, that never happens. The screenwriter’s work languishes on the unseen page.
Writing a screenplay is fun. It’s great practice for learning how to tell a tightly plotted story and to bring snappy dialogue and characters to life. But it also requires constant consideration of budgets and marketing and the whims of studio executives.
That’s all fine, but all we ever wanted to do was tell entertaining stories. A few years ago we had an idea for a wonton western screenplay, but the overwhelming amount of money, negotiating, pleading, and just plain work required to get a movie made—and the slim chances of success even after all that—were more than we wanted to deal with.
The same storytelling principles apply to both screenwriting and book writing, so we thought we’d give it a shot. Producing our story as a novel gave us the creative freedom to tell exactly the story we wanted to tell, and to tell it in a way that allowed us to flex our creativity a bit—and most importantly, to be sure that once we were finished, our work would actually see the light of day.
With a novel, we didn’t have to worry about working within a budget or pleasing global marketing executives. We could make our dragons fly without needing gazillions of dollars in funding. We didn’t have to worry about finding someone who knows someone who knows Ryan Gosling. Good grief.
We are now the storyteller, director, costume designer, location manager, and set designer. We make the decisions, and when it’s all said and done, we have a finished book. The writing experience was beyond anything we’d done before. If we wanted to call out a specific strange bird to the reader, we could. If we wanted to let fires burn long into the night, leaving streets polluted with ash, we could. If we wanted to put human heads on stakes, we could.
With a novel, we really could make our own galaxy far far away.
There are people in this world who want to fill their imaginations with good stories and there are people in the world who want to write them. Join us on a journey to decaying China in the mid-1800s and let us help you imagine dragons.
Our book is The Long Way, and it’s available October 2013.