Is screen writing an art form?

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Without a shadow of a doubt, the answer has to be categorically no!

My fellow writer and friend here in the UK, Andrew French decided that he wanted to turn one of his books into a screen play. So, with ‘how to’ suggestions from someone involved in the scriptwriting industry here, away he went.

Andrew said to me yesterday, “I don’t want anyone else adapting my work. It wouldn’t be the same.” From that point of view I can completely understand why he did it. After all would you allow a total stranger anywhere near your baby? No neither will the author of a given work, if they’ve got any sense… Far too many good stories have been ruined in the past by total Philistines ie editors. Or in this instance scriptwriters!!!

When you read a book, through the use of your imagination you become part of it to the point where if you close your eyes, your right there with the characters. Not so with a script. With the latter what your reading is nothing more or less than simplistic writing in the form of an instruction manual for totally unimaginative ninnies, devoid of everything that you experience when reading any work of fiction.

Give me the book over the darned film any day…

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Morweth’s Speech

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In every fantasy story there is always good and evil. In my anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales, one of the good guys is the ancient white wizard Morweth. To give you a flavour of him, here is a speech he delivers right at the beginning of part two of ‘Beware on Crellen’s Mine’.

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Morweth ended a heated argument over what they would do with the black wizard Crellen when they finally caught up with him. He knew only too well that this was the time for wisdom, magic and cunning not simple blind angry revenge. “No, no, no, Crellen must not die! Goblindom exists because it is in total equilibrium, unlike the world beyond our magic border. Life and death, growth and decay, summer and winter, and in magic’s case, good and evil, all contribute to keeping us hidden from prying eyes. Should any of these elements necessary to our very existence cease to be, the magic barrier will simply dissolve, and our part of the world will be ended forever, overrun by the hated humans. If you will dear friends, Goblindom and everything in it will soon be forgotten. Our capability to live in peace together and converse with each other, be we witch or wizard, raven or eagle, humin or goblin, wyvern or griffin, ogre, troll, elf, mountain gremlin, even dragon, will also end. The human’s world beyond our barrier is in a state of chaos. The different kinds living in it cannot understand each other anymore. Consequently they live in fear and kill rather than live side by side like us. Any mutual trust between all living things that they may have had is gone for all time. It’s a case of balance, do you see.”

~~~

As Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak would say, were he actually here and not merely flying around in my mind, “Well that’th yer lot – rarrk!”

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Another teaser

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The following short extract from one of the thirty tales of the anthology, describes the real enemy of every living thing in Goblindom…

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Crellen the black wizard stood up, cleared his throat and addressed the assembly. “Aeons ago in the time before, after we had banished the humans, we placed a wall of magic around our part of the world to protect ourselves from everything beyond our borders. If these humans find a way through, we must destroy them where they stand by any and all means at our disposal. Magic still rules here, not metal! We cannot allow these accursed humans to invade. While we fight amongst ourselves, our squabbles are as nothing compared to the evil these creatures present to all living things in Goblindom. How many of them exist is anyone’s guess? There may be thousands of them. I have heard of their ways from other wizards further to the south, as you have too I think Morweth.”

Morweth and Brilith both nodded their heads in agreement. Crellen continued, “whenever humans encounter anyone passing for witch or a wizard in their land, they burn or drown them. In the part of the world humans dwell in, there is no room for magic of any kind, no matter that their ills are still cured by magic’s practioners in the form of healers. They plunder, slash and burn forests, laying waste to every living thing. They kill for food, or for pleasure. They make war on their own kind for land. They share nothing with all the other kinds who live where they dwell. They either kill or enslave all they conquer. Humans are truly evil. They must be driven from here. Then once we have rid ourselves of them, we must reinforce our wall of magic to hide our land forever. In time we may even need to travel to their homeland to annihilate them all.”

~~~

Crellen’s description of our species pretty well sums us up, wouldn’t you say?

More later,

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Forget about movies…

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…they rarely if ever stimulate you in the same way a book can, and does. If you want to conjure up a mental picture of a fictional character or landscape, always rely on the words on the pages of a book, and your unique mental interpretation of them. In other words, use your imagination!

To illustrate my point, the following is a description of just one of the many characters I employ in Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales, which I’m currently re-writing. If it doesn’t give you a clear vision of him in your mind’s eye, then I feel extremely sorry for you…

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     Grimsdyke Mugwurzle, the purveyor of seeds, had begun his annual trading trip south to the humin settlements dotted throughout the southern woods from his home at the northernmost edge of Goblindom, much earlier than normal this year. All winter long, Mug had carefully tended his vast stocks of seeds in preparation for the coming spring. No matter what kind you may seek, he was sure to have a selection to please you for a modest cost.

Of all the goblins you were ever likely to meet within the confines of Goblindom’s magic barrier, he was the dourest and a firm believer in retribution. Like all northerners he spoke with a strong accent. His black eyes were typical of the goblins who settled the northern parts. Set deep in their sockets, they shone darkly like pure polished Jet. His nose which half hid beneath his thick highly animated protruding bushy eyebrows had an unfortunate growth on its pointed end. Anyone meeting Mug for the first time, could hardly fail to notice the prominent orange coloured wart sprouting five black hairs, which waved gaily in the breeze like tall marsh reed stalks. From time to time, folk made jokes about it behind his back. If he heard them he’d hit the offending joker on the head with his club. He failed to appreciate any kind of remark about his unfortunate nasal addition.

~~~

If a description is perfect, what else do you need? Nothing! Not every character in every story needs such a detailed description, except when writing something like a fantasy anthology about Goblins in Goblindom…

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We all have a dream…

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Minas Tirith, the fortified capital of Gondor

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As a lifetime Tolkien devotee, each year at this time I go on a pilgrimage to Middle-Earth. Over the last few weeks I have once more immersed myself in the pages of The Hobbit and all three books contained within The Lord of the Rings trilogy. For those of you visiting Earth for the first time, from the planet Zog, they are as follows – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Twin Towers and The Return of the King.

It is no coincidence that I’ve been re-reading the four books at the same time as I am involved in re-working my own humble fantasy tome, for the third and final time. I refer of course to my anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales

Tolkien always portrayed goblins as positively evil. In this instance I choose not to. My five goblin heroes are Globular Van der Graff (Glob), Makepiece Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) and Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous). I also created a sixth character, who lives with them in their oak tree home, sharing in their adventures. He is none other than a one eyed lisping raven with a twisted beak – who answers to the name Bejuss.

There are a myriad of other characters contained within the anthology from Humins, the antecedants of mankind. Wyverns, a Black Dragon, Elves, Griffins, White and Black Witches and Wizards. Trolls, Wargobs, even Men, to name but a few of those within the anthology. I also created the mythical land known as Goblindom, where they all reside, hidden from the rest of the world (See the map below).

Was I inspired to write the goblin anthology of thirty linked tales by the works of Tolkien? To say no would be a lie on my part. Is my anthology in any way like the tales of Middle-Earth? That is not for me to say. Should the anthology be portrayed on the silver screen? That has always been my dream.

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Will it ever come to pass? In all likelihood, probably not. But then again, who can honestly say. Am I a latter day Tolkien? I don’t think so. Besides, to presume so is a step too far. No I’m just another storyteller. Nothing more. Nothing less…

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This is the aspect of publishing I hate…

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… particularly when you see your new book already on the slippery slope to oblivion while you wait for sales…

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I took delivery of six copies of my latest work yesterday, to hand out to friends here in the UK. I also took part in an advertising gimmick from Amazon to offer three people the chance to get themselves a free copy. While they were free to the recipients, they certainly weren’t to me. Not at US$11.40 each they weren’t!!! Was I ripped off by Amazon? Yes! will I be doing it again? No!

So far the only sales have occurred via CreateSpace. As yet my countrymen and women, the very people I wrote it for, as it’s our history, have yet to step up to the plate. What does that say about UK readers? From my point of view, not a lot…

As for actual sales, excluding the six copies I bought, so far the number stands at nine. Hardly riveting figures I grant you. But that’s still better than zero. Now if only people here would get their backsides into gear and buy themselves a copy. Meantime all I can do now is wait. I’ve never been any damned good at it, despite often being told to be patient! Oh, and the other old chestnut – hurry up and wait…

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I’m in a bit of a quandary at the moment…

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As far as I’m aware no one else has ever written a book encompassing the three final battles, two of which were fought between the Anglo-Saxon nation and the Viking invasion force, led by Harald Sigurdsson, alias Hardradå – the battles of Fulford and Stamford Bridge. Then just over a week later, the battle of Hastings when the force led by Duke William of Normandy, (also of Viking descent), finally ended Anglo-Saxon rule in 1066.

Consequently a thought, or rather a realisation occurred to me this morning. My extremely short novella Autumn 1066, is in essence a historical account of the last few weeks of England in the hands of the Anglo-Saxons. I’ve compiled it from second-hand accounts written fifty years later in 1116 – chiefly The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which at best can only be regarded as political spin by the religious community of the time, in an attempt to curry favour with the new masters of Britain, the Normans. Unfortunately there are no creditable eyewitness accounts to be had.

Now here’s my question – do I treat it as purely historical or not?

In several places I’ve added small details to flesh out what I believe may have taken place from inferences made by those responsible for writing the accounts. When you read it, you can decide if I’ve taken liberties or not.

Meanwhile, I’m busy adding the involvement of the few fictional characters I’ve employed where relevant, as their involvement throughout is minimal.

When I hand it over to the two gentlemen who offered to be my beta-readers – Colin Noel-johnson and Andrew French, I’ve no doubt they will have something to say about whether or not they consider the fictional characters as being relevant. At the moment, I’m in two minds on the subject of their inclusion…

If anyone does know of any such book, apart from the one I’m currently writing, I would be most grateful if you could give me the title, and the name of its author. So far I only know of one extremely badly written book from back in the nineteen nineties. But that one only ever concerned the battle at Stamford Bridge…

More later

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