Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adaptation Interview: Robert Gately

Today's interview is with Robert ("Bob") Gately, author of the novel South of Main Street, published by Sun Rising Press in 2005. which has five-star reviews on Amazon. Bob wrote a screenplay version of the novel, which won top prize in SpiritQuest Film Festival of Erie, PA and was a finalist in several other contests. I asked Bob about his adaptation process:

Q: What was the most difficult aspect of adapting your screenplay into book form? The most rewarding?
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Bob Gately: For one of my novels, I wrote the novel first. So, when writing the screenplay, I had a ridiculously hard time reducing scenes, or maybe throwing the scenes out altogether. And I had to remember always, write ‘what the camera sees’. Editing scenes is easy for me. Cutting scenes out completely gives me stomach unrest for days. Now, the reverse, writing the novel after the screenplay is a bit easier for me because I can relax about drawing out the characters or the scenes however my muse directs me. The hardest aspect of this conversion, however, is keeping consistent POVs and making sure that whatever I write is pertinent to the plot and character arcs. Taking the ‘whatever the camera sees’ off the table, allows the author to breathe a bit, yes, but the author can’t now just ramble on just because he/she has the liberty to do so.  Keeping the interest of the reader requires every bit of restraint as does writing the screenplay. The most rewarding aspect of converting to a novel is you can draw out the minor characters better because you don’t have the page restraint.
Q: Did you have to remove or add aspects to the screenplay? 
BG: Mostly there was more additions: actually, writing a novel after the screenplay gave me a better perspective of the characters and I was allowed to expand on the character arc. Sometimes, the characters were more fully developed and forced me to go back to the screenplay and make changes.  
Q: Were you able to fit more story into the screenplay or the novel? 
BG: Novel, most definitely.
Q: What were the most significant changes you had to make? 
BG: When writing the novel second, the changes I made were with how one actor(s) interplayed with another and I expanded the scene or the conversation. In the screenplay, I went back to draw out the compliment characters more.
Q: Describe your adaptation process. 
BG: Put on the two different hats. Going to the novel second, I had to always remember I was NOT restricted as to what the camera saw. When writing the novel I violated the rule to always ask “What does this have to do with the character arc or plot.” Consequently, I found I had to do more editing with the novel because I had so many unnecessary words, scenes, etc.
Q: How did you keep the same tone when adapting the novel into screenplay form? 
BG: By keeping the POVs consistent. By always knowing what the input and output to the scenes should/would be. By keeping the mystery of the main character alive. 
Q: Is there background about the characters that you had to simply hint at in the screenplay due to page length restraints? 
BG: Yes. Page length is always the boundary I edit to.
Q: Did you write an outline for the novel? For the screenplay?
BG: Yes. Always. 
Q: Is your intended audience the same or different for the novel and the screenplay? 
BG: No. I don’t think the audience changes. If it does, then my story changes. 
Thanks, Bob!
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