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Adaptation: Handling Internal Humor in 1st person book

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First, I am not a screenwriter. AT ALL. But my son (an NYU Tisch grad) is, and as an exercise, he's taking a stab at adapting my book (1st person/humorous/action/suspense) into a screenplay.

He says the biggest challenge is that much of the mc's humor is internal, and so, without a voiceover, is challenging to show. He's working on a few ideas, but this issue never occurred to me, so I've been wondering about it.

Are there any movie adaptations from mg novels (or other kids books) that accomplish this without inserting voiceovers (which I find a little annoying). And are there any screenwriting techniques besides voiceover to handle this? I'm sort of doubting it. Plus, I'm also wondering if it's naturally easier to adapt a book in 3rd person because of this issue? In other words, is this challenge preventable?

I'm bringing this up, not really to get answers, but I think it's interesting, and I'd love to hear the view of people who understand screenwriting, especially in relation to adapting children's books. I think those of us who only write novels would find the process of adapting books into a movie format fascinating. If I never considered it, there must be one or two other people who haven't, either.



#1 - March 15, 2015, 09:22 AM
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He says the biggest challenge is that much of the mc's humor is internal, and so, without a voiceover, is challenging to show. He's working on a few ideas, but this issue never occurred to me, so I've been wondering about it.

Plus, I'm also wondering if it's naturally easier to adapt a book in 3rd person because of this issue? In other words, is this challenge preventable?


I've never adapted anything, or even tried, but yeah, internal thought is a roadblock for sure. I would think that it may be easier for your son to create a character -- even a dog --  that your MC can speak to, thus bringing out the MC thoughts without Voice Over. Voice Over can work so well sometimes, think The Shawshank Redemption with Morgan Freeman's thoughtful voice over, which is almost like a character in itself. But, like you, other times when I see it in movies I just groan.

I think a third person book would be easier to adapt -- because then you can see the villain/minor characters plights that don't involve the MC being there -- especially for something like a thriller or action, where you need to establish the antagonists workings to build suspense. You know, see the bomb being planted -- but the MC doesn't, and so we're pulling for him to find it even though we know where it is.
#2 - March 15, 2015, 02:54 PM
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 :poke Oh, also, I think in the movie Gone Girl, there is voice over of her diary entries, which in the book were whole chapters with arcs and surprises. I didn't think they were too obstructive in the movie, probably because the character of Amy was so over the top selfish/narcissistic that it seemed plausible that all her thoughts would be about herself and how everyone else did her wrong(?)
#3 - March 15, 2015, 02:58 PM
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Hmm, I agree with CC about getting him? her? talking, whether to someone else or him/herself. Could there be diary entries, or a vlog to a girl/boyfriend containing some of that material? Or could some of it be turned into straigiht-up dialogue?

Good luck to your son. This sounds hard.  :bewildered
#4 - March 15, 2015, 06:43 PM
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Yeah, it's more complicated than I thought it would be. He just mentioned it, and said it's part of the process—he's definitely not looking to me for an answer.

It's just something I never thought about. I am interested in this and might have to pay closer attention to it when I write in the future. For the book he's working on there's no problem with the plot/action/suspense coming through, but part of what endears me to the mc is his heart and humor. And a bunch of it is internalized.

Yeah, a diary, or having a text/email convo with somebody and speaking it out loud. I can see that working. I think the stuff he's talking about wouldn't work as straight up dialogue, but who knows?

I wonder what other kinds of challenges there are when adapting a novel.
#5 - March 16, 2015, 04:30 AM
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This was a good question. I sat and thought about different movies and how internal stuff might have been handled. I came up with this list:

MC writes a journal entry/text/letter.
MC 'sees or daydreams' an alternate version of the situation they are encountering.
MC discusses what's churning inside them with a buddy (animal/human/or inanimate).
MC talks to self/aloud.
MC spouts internal dialogue only in their mind.
Through special effects (slow motion/garbled conversation/fireworks/etc.) MC's internal turmoil is made apparent.
 :flowers2

#6 - March 16, 2015, 05:19 AM

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There was a comedy series a while back that I'm wracking my brain trying to remember--I don't think it was "Malcolm in the Middle," but could have been--in which we heard the child-MC's thoughts. It was funny and worked (at least it did for me). I wish your son the best of luck!
#7 - March 16, 2015, 06:14 AM
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Gender Wage Gap (Abdo)
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