Those of you who know me sufficiently know that I've been struggling with a novel called Bad Company (short description: mercenary corporation invades America to reverse Obama election) since NaNoWriMo 2007. This novel burned me out twice already, maybe three times (the third being last month, when I lost my first NaNoEdMo ever). For last year's Script Frenzy, I attempted to finish BadCo as a graphic novel script, only to be interrupted by moving across town. This year, I'm finishing BadCo as a movie.
Some of the chapters I've written over the past two and a half years are of the purely literary stream-of-consciousness variety that doesn't translate well into cinematic visuals (there's ways of doing this kind of thing in comics involving captions and montage, but I'm not doing that right now). But part of the problem I've had finishing the novel is that a large number, perhaps even a majority, of the scenes started as cinematic visuals in my inner movie theatre, and I've had to translate them into prose — and that's been the hard part, especially since I've been using first-person narration most of this time.
In the movie, the first-person viewpoint goes out the window. We don't see anything through Charlie's or Desiree's eyes anymore. I don't even have to bother with swiping a technique I learned from Kenneth Fearing and Warren Murphy, using a villain's viewpoint for at least one chapter. The only viewpoint in a movie is that of the camera, objective in theory. Of course, my point in having the sisters narrate is precisely that viewpoints are objective only to a degree, depending on the amount of information available. Charlie finds that the more she knows about Dictel, the more mysterious it is. Desiree finds that sometimes she cannot trust her own viewpoint at all, especially when it's manipulated by others (in her case, by her mother Drusilla, her guru/lover/slavemaster Rashid, and her stepfather Starr). This all comes together during Dictel Corporation's coup attempt when the Colonel kidnaps several prominent American leaders and threatens to kill them if the American government and people don't surrender to him unconditionally and crown Dictel as America's eternal dictator. He spews the paranoid ravings of a conspiracy theorist (it's a not too well known fact that the conspirators themselves are the most paranoid conspiracy theorists of all) and call them absolute truth. By this time our heroines have learned to distrust "absolute truth," since every single "absolute truth" that governed their lives has turned out to be not only false but absurd.
But in none of these scenes can I get into the mind of any character like I can in the novel or the comic. The Dictel commercial that opens the novel actually suggests a theme I've been neglecting so far: that the camera itself can be made to lie. In Bad Company the novel, scandals snowball, fall apart, and are even used as weapons. In one sequence I've just thought up as I write this sentence, someone can be made to say something completely different from what they actually said simply through creative editing. Dictel's entire reputation, especially among the political elite, rests on aggressive lobbying and media massage. It all comes down to that old political thriller theme of truth and lies, including the fact that the further up the hierarchy you climb, the more poisonous the atmosphere is with lies, because lies are themselves used as weapons in a huge and deadly game of "king of the hill." The corruption of the corporate media is crucial to the plot, in the novel as well as the movie script. Of course, in the novel I have to keep the TV clips in script form; in the movie, I can show them.
Anyway, I still intend to finish this thing. At the slow rate I'm currently writing, though, this will surely end up being my first Script Frenzy which ends with a Panic Time. But at least I'm writing it!
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