Meet the Fictorians: Guy Anthony De Marco

“Come in, — come in! and know me better, man!” -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

We’d love for you, our wonderful readers, to get to know us better. That’s why, each month, Kristin Luna will interview a member of The Fictorians. We’ll learn more about each member, such as their writing processes, their work, where they live, and what they prefer to drink on a crisp winter day. We hope you enjoy this monthly installment of Meet the Fictorians.

Meet the Fictorians:

Guy Anthony De Marco

Kristin Luna (KL): Hi Guy! How are you doing and what are you drinking today?

Guy Anthony De Marco (GADM): Coffee. Lots of coffee. Coffee with coffee on top. It’s a good thing I’m not a single-malt Scotch drinker because I’d be spilling my glass of Glenfiddich 40-year old single malt all over the carpet because of the caffeine jitters.

Sometimes I toss in an Irish Breakfast tea to mix things up, or I drink the really hard stuff — egg nog.

KL: Oo, Glenfiddich. I like Balvenie myself. Don’t even get me started on egg nog. Yum! Okay, back on subject… You’ve been a Fictorian for quite some time. When did you join, and could you tell the fine people what all do you do for us?

GADM: I was invited by Quincy J. Allen (link: http://www.quincyallen.com) to write a couple of articles a few years ago, and then I woke up months later and I was a member. Since then, I write the occasional article, post a comment or two, and poke around the back end of the website. I’m familiar and comfortable doing so because I have over three decades in the Information Technology field. I’m not the site admin, but I do keep a watch on things and install updates, plus the little things such as dumping the spam out of the comments. We get over 50 spam comments a day, so that’s a sign the site is spreading. If only the spammers purchased books, we’d all be millionaires. Or at least hundredaires.

I’m also the unofficial “I need a post by tonight” guy. If you see several posts with my byline, odds are there were spots that needed an article. I write fast, and I’m now even working with Dragon Dictate, which helped me to hit my NaNoWriMo 2016 goal in two days.

KL: Not only do you help us out with our website, you are downright prolific when it comes to how much writing you produce. When you’re working on a project, how many words do you average a day, and in a week?

GADM: I have a bunch of pseudonyms I write under, so they all need to be fed. I think my record was 48K words in 12 hours. My usual rate is 2.5K/day on a slow day to 6K/day on a “looming deadline” day. Dragon is boosting those numbers lately, but the first drafts are pretty horrific to look at. Between drafting and editing, it all balances out in the end.

KL: I’m in awe, really. So what’s some of the best advice you’ve received about being productive? What works for you that you could pass on to the rest of us?

GADM: I guess the best advice is just doing the basics. Place your buttocks in a comfy chair and write so it becomes a habit. Understand that your first draft is not a polished manuscript. Allow yourself to suck and tell the editor in your head that she will get her turn later after you’ve dumped the basics onto the digital page. That last piece worked the best for me as far as productivity.

KL: You’ve written short stories for anthologies along with long fiction. What’s your favorite short story you’ve written, what’s it about, and where can we buy it?

GADM: My favorite short story is “Sally the Baker” from the early 1980s. It’s long out of print, although I’m thinking about reworking the story. The original is about a group of adventurers who force a gent named Sally to join their quest to take on an evil wizard. Unfortunately, Sally is an amazing baker with no other skills. In the end, he does save the day when they burst into a high-level evil wizard conference and Sally tosses a handful of flour into the air and starts screaming “Death Dust!” at the top of his lungs. The wizards scatter, the adventurers recover the item they were looking for, and they all escape with their hides.

For a still-available short story, I’d recommend “Grubstake” from Supernatural Colorado or “The Fate Worse Than Death” in Unidentified Funny Objects 3, which I co-wrote with Kevin J. Anderson.

KL: You have a number of titles available on Amazon. Do you find that you like writing short fiction or long fiction better?

GADM: I like writing drabbles or flash fiction best because it takes a lot of work to hit the word count, especially the 100-word drabbles. It’s like writing poetry for me, which I dabble in. As far as prose, I like short and long fiction equally. I write novels like a collection of short stories. That’s how I outline long works…a series of short stories in a tight flying formation.

KL: What are you currently working on?

GADM: I’m in the midst of NaNoWriMo at the moment. I hit my 50K in a couple of days. My record is over 300K. I have a cyberpunk novel in work, plus two horror novels and a bunch of erotica novellas. I’m trying to get 20 erotica works done to launch a new pseudonym.

KL: Ambitious! Who are some authors that inspire you?

GADMTonya L. De Marco is always helping me by editing and finding more stories to write. Kevin J. Anderson inspires me to write more because he is almost at the point where he thinks of a story and it magically appears on paper. Sam Knight inspires me to treat others with respect and kindness. I also enjoy reading lots of classics from Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the rest of the usual gang — plus digging up old pulps and enjoying forgotten speculative fiction authors.

KL: Yeah, that Sam Knight is good people! Other than advice on productivity, what advice have you received through your years of writing that has stuck with you?

GADMFind a group of like-minded individuals and work together, like a local writing collective. Seek out folks who know how to edit and are not afraid to tell you what works and what sucks. Find beta readers and treat them like gold. Always be nice to others, even if they’re not. Especially if they’re not…they need to see how a professional acts. Support everyone and never talk down or bad-mouth anyone. It’s easy to pick on authors, such as Stephenie Meyer, who wrote Twilight. I’ve been on several panels where they bash on her, but I always say she was laughing all the way to the bank. She wrote something that caught the attention of the reading public, and even though it’s not my cup of tea, it sold well and made her a household name. I’d like that to happen to me someday.

I would also recommend joining a professional writing organization. Some of them can help you on the way to greatness, sorta like Slytherin House. I’ve been impressed with what Cat Rambo has been doing with SFWA, so I’d suggest considering them first.

KL: And finally, what’s your favorite Fictorians post that you’ve written?

GADM: To be honest, I don’t particularly have a favorite. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with “Putting a Fresh Clip in My Revolver,” “My Muse is Dead,” or DMCA Tools. All of those generated some good feedback from Fictorians readers.

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If you have any questions for Guy, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Court of Thorns and Roses

Guest Post by Aubrie L. Nixon

bnci-square-origLet’s talk adaptions shall we? We all know what adaptions are, a retelling of sorts of a classic story. There are thousands, some are good…fantastic even. Others…not so much. If any of you know me, you know that my go-to story is ALWAYS Beauty and the Beast. Call me a sucker for romance, giant libraries, or broody heroes, I don’t care. Beauty and the Beast is, and will always be my favorite classic story. The wonderful thing about having it as a favorite, many other authors, film makers and story tellers love it too.
I have seen countless live action adaptions of Beauty and the Beast, and none have ever come close to the classic Disney animation film. That being said, the Disney film is well…Disney. Which means its very much a toned down, light hearted film. Another thing about me is that I like dark, gritty and tragic stories. So while I LOVE the Disney film, I crave other versions. I have read my fair share of Beauty and the Beast retellings, and I can say without a doubt, some are considered my favorite books of all time.
Let me start with A Court of Thorns and Roses By Sarah J Maas. While this beautiful, beautiful book is a retelling, it goes in such a completely different direction, that I don’t think I will ever look at Beauty and the Beast the same. There are sexy Fae warriors, a curse on a broody hero, an artsy heroine trapped with our hero, and a luscious and deadly villain. It is in fact, my favorite story of all time. This beautiful version of Beauty and the Beast works because it is enough of the classic tale, that you think you know the story-line, but Maas takes other worldly elements and gives them a home in this superb story, making it so new and different. The ending had me in tears, and fearing what happened next. That..that is what makes a retelling work. Where you captivate your audience so deeply with a classic story, and add in enough of your own elements, that it feels familiar and different at the same time. If you can do that, you can do anything. Successful adaptions are hard to find, but when you do find one, grab it and never let go.
cruel-beautyThe second adaption that I am head over heels in love with is Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. Cruel Beauty cast such a dark spell over me, with its intrigue and deadly mysteries that I finished it within one sitting. I could not put it down. It worked because again, it was so beautifully different that it felt like a whole new story. Many times, I thought that I had it figures out, but when I turned the page, realized I was very much mistaken. The curse and the beast are so dark and tragically sad, that I was in tears by the end of the book. It was so different from anything I had ever read, even being a retelling. It was delightful.
Basically, as someone who loves to read YA (Young Adult) books, which tend to have similar troupes and similar characters, I appreciate twists and being surprised. These books will never leave me, ever. They are so romantic, dark, and delightful that they hardly get like retellings at all. Both authors have other retellings of sorts, Maas, for Hades and Persephone and Hodge for Little Red Riding Hood.
Do you have any favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings? If so, please do tell me, I would love to read them!

aubreyAubrie is 24 years young. She plays mom to a cutest demon topside, and is married to the hottest man in the Air Force. When she isn’t writing she is daydreaming about hot brooding anti-heroes and sassy heroines. She loves Dragon Age, rewatching Game of Thrones and reading all things fantasy. She runs a local YA/NA bookclub with 3 chapters, and over 200 members. Her favorite thing to do is eat, and her thighs thank her graciously for it. If she could have dinner with anyone living or dead it would be Alan Rickman because his voice is the sexiest sound on earth. He could read the dictionary and she would be enthralled. Her current mission in life is to collect creepy taxidermy animals because she finds them cute and hilarious. She resides just outside of Washington DC.

Preorder Aubrie’s debut novel DARKNESS WHISPERS, here. 

Page to Screen: Realities of Hollywood Adaptation

A guest post by Ramón Terrell

If I’m to allow myself to be dramatic, here, I’d say that adaptations are one of the most controversial aspects of the entertainment field in my opinion.

Why is this?

There is more than one answer to that question, and it also depends on the individual circumstances. For my part, I’m going to talk about adapting novel to film. Anyone who has watched a film that has been adapted from a novel can relate to that feeling of “hey wait, that didn’t happen. She didn’t go there.” Or perhaps the disappointment at the omission of a certain character, creature, or event. Whole plotlines might have been left out, or character personalities altered in some way. There are a myriad of details that can be changed, excluded, or even added in, to a novel-to-film adaptation.

There can also be cultural reasons for an adaptation. Some characters might be changed in an effort not to offend a certain ethnic group (at the expense of the negatively affected group) that might represent the largest or one of the largest consumers of that film. And sometimes, it can be something as simple as fluff stuffed into a project to extend its size.

There is a little old book by the name of The Hobbit, that was adapted into three little old films. Anyone who’d read the book immediately arched an eyebrow. Three films? The single Hobbit book was shorter in length to any one of the three Lord of the Rings books, and THAT was a trilogy. So how could they possibly stretch that small book into three movies? I could practically see the meeting in my mind, between Peter Jackson and the bigwigs up at New Line Cinema.

“Hey Peter. Fantastic work on the Lord of the Rings movies! Simply brilliant! We want to do The Hobbit.”

“Well, okay,” Peter says. “I could get started on the movie…”

“Movies.”

“…Movies? Um. Okay. Well, I can get started on the first movie after I wrap a project I’m working on, and begin the second one after that.”

“And the third one right on its heels, right?”

“Um.” Now Peter is scratching his head. “I don’t think we need more than two movies for this. The book wasn’t very big.”

Bigwigs lean forward. “You do remember how much money the Lord of the Rings trilogy made, right?”

Of course, I was not privy to that meeting, and the above scenario is strictly my own speculation on what might have happened. But one thing everyone should know is that films are made to make money. And the Rings trilogy made a lot of that. Dump truck loads of that. So three Hobbit movies was a no-brainer.

Except fluff. Lots of it. Boatloads of fluff. Characters that didn’t exist in the book, love interests that were nonexistent, etc etc. Now, before fans of the movies grab their pitchforks, I’m not bashing them. I will admit that I only enjoyed the first one, and parts of the second, I am not stomping what someone else might have loved. But there was undeniably a good deal of stuffing in that turkey to make it stretch the distance. My point in this illustration is that the adaptation had the prospect of huge dollar signs to a major studio, and they adapted it to film by adding in content.

Reverse the scenario. I remember watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There were fans who expressed disappointment at the absence the giant tentacled creature that lived in the lake, or events being rearranged in Prisoner of Azkaban, (hmm. Spellcheck didn’t ding me for that one. Household name success. Sigh) Tom Bombadil was completely missing from Lord of the Rings, Jack Reacher went from an upper six foot tall hulking intimidating giant to mid five foot tall Tom Cruise.

The first in the scenario is likely budget. The tentacle creature would have been nice, but how many minutes would it have added to the film to make sense having it there? Was it necessary to advance the plot in some way? Would the events in Azkaban have made sense in the film if left as is in the book? Would the presence of Bombadil have thrown the whole movie off the rails if they’d kept him? How any extra minutes would the Fae have needed to justify his presence? In the case of Jack Reacher? Well, Hollywood often likes to have a big name attached to a film to ensure its success and their return on investment. It’s a fair concern, but I personally think they might have tried a little harder. I don’t know the details of those decisions, so I can only guess.

These are but a few examples of the challenges of adapting a novel to film. Some details simply must be omitted. The story has to be broken down to its bare bones, only essential elements retained. From that point, they can see what might be added in. In a novel, details, characters, and creatures, etc are a must, in creating a world for people to slip into. In a film, many of those same details don’t work. It’s simply the difference in the two mediums.

I’d like to return to my old friend, Tom Bombadil. He was a character I’d looked forward to seeing in the movie, yet understood why he was omitted. He was an enigma whose presence was open to speculation. One thing was clear, (to me) which was that Tom was representative of the purity, innocence, and power of nature. Its majesty. Tom Bombadil was The Fatherless and Oldest of the Old. He remembered the first raindrop upon the world. Not even the One Ring could tempt him. In fact, it had no effect on him at all.

Now imagine trying to add this character into a movie that was already three hours long in the theater, and four hours long in the extended editions every fan should have already seen 20 times by now? It might have been nice, but probably unfeasible.

One final scenario is the prospect of adapting a visual, or even interactive story into a novel. Instead of having to cut material or alter it, now the writer is faced with having to expound on material that might have had a small presence in the movie. In a film you are given the setting by it simply being there. You see it. The mood is set by the dreary clouds and lightening flickering behind those clouds. You feel the ominous presence in the castle by the subtle inclusion of a baritone moan, or a rumbling hum, the music, low and foreboding.

A novel doesn’t have the luxury of a music score, sound effects, or special effects. All of that has to be created without telling, so that your mind can produce the virtual reality experience of you being there. As a fan of the video game series God of War, I saw the novel for the first game and thumbed through it. I didn’t read the whole thing, but one thing I did notice right off was dialogue between several of the gods. There was never conversation between the gods in the first game, but to add more substance, the author had to bring events that happened behind the curtain onto the stage.

In this world of games, movies, animated movies, episodic shows, and novels, we are seeing stories adapted across all of those mediums. As audiences are more sophisticated than ever before, and the capabilities of the entertainment industry have reached new heights, both sides must meet at a reasonable middle.

At the same time, filmmakers have a double responsibility. They have the task of producing a product that will bring in the revenue necessary to satisfy those flipping the bill, while at the same time keeping true enough to the source material to please fans. It’s not at all easy, and sometimes it fails.

Despite the many failed attempts at adapting a novel to a feature film, I find the possibilities exciting. Now more than ever, film has the ability to adapt stories that were once beyond what special effects and budgeting were capable of. Film has reached a point where its limitations are how much money it can raise to become a reality, and the ability of the creators to properly adapt the story.

 


 

About the Author:r_terrell_030513_0129_web

Ramón Terrell is an actor and author who instantly fell in love with fantasy the day he opened R. A. Salvatore’s: The Crystal Shard. Years (and many devoured books) later he decided to put pen to paper for his first novel. After a bout with aching carpals, he decided to try the keyboard instead, and the words began to flow.

As an actor, he has appeared in the hit television shows Supernatural, izombie, Arrow, and Minority Report, as well as the hit comedy web series Single and Dating in Vancouver. He also appears as one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men in Once Upon a Time, as well as an Ark Guard on the hit TV show The 100. When not writing, or acting on set, he enjoys reading, video games, hiking, and long walks with his wife around Stanley Park in Vancouver BC.

Connect with him at:

http://rjterrell.com/

R J Terrell on facebook

RJTerrell on twitter

 

Adapting Story to the Screen – Big Jackpot or Nothing?

Does your story have the potential to be a big blockbuster? Will it ever be possible to get your story on the screen? What makes a story good for an adaptation?

Like the revolution which happened in the book industry, from book stores to ebooks, from big and medium press publishers to indie publishing, the film industry is undergoing a similar revolution. Why?

  • Production costs have plummeted
  • Post-production is cheap – there are many options for picture and sound editing software
  • Distribution is available on several web sites or you can host your own

These changes have increased the opportunities for your story to be made into a movie.

Yes, your story, novel or short, can be scripted for the screen, whether it’s the big screen or a small one, or on the internet. It’s a big undertaking, but it can be done. Consider this though: not everyone is a writer and there are people who are looking for scripts for the small screen. For example, NetFlix has created a world of story production that wasn’t previously available. Production companies of all sizes, including independent producers, are looking for scripts so there are opportunities outside of Hollywood. Film festivals are resplendent with short films and they’re a good venue through which to get noticed – for you the writer and the producer.

When I write, I always see my stories as a movie. But does that mean my stories can be adapted into a movie? I needed to know so I took an online course with famed screen writer Bill Rabkin. Many of my points and examples are taken from that course. Thank you Bill! I knew that a good story is necessary, but what makes a story compelling enough to be made into a movie? Many of the things we know about good writing are also true in scripts, but here are a few things to be aware of when writing a script:

1) A great concept which makes the audience ask What happens next? is a must. An example: A nerdy teenager is bitten by a radioactive spider and gets superpowers.

2) Compelling characters embody what your story is about and are defined by his or her central conflict. All character details must relate to conflict because character is conflict and conflict is character. The only way we understand any character is by the choice he or she makes in pursuit of a goal.

3) Film is a visual medium much like a cartoon with a caption. This means that the internal monologue, the heavy thinking, all the pages of lovely prose, and all the long passages of dialogue are gone! Everything must be conveyed externally. In short – write what can be seen. Therefore, the conflict, the choices a character makes must be conveyed externally.

4) Most films follow the Three Act Structure: ACT 1 the set up with a disorganizing event (which can happen off screen and sometimes isn’t revealed until the end), the central problem, and inciting incident (which kicks the story into motion) which ends in a major turning point in the plot(25 pages); ACT 2 the complications with a major turning point in the middle with a big reversal. It doesn’t simply continue the ideas found in Act 1 – it explores and enriches them thus taking on depth and meaning/theme (50 pages); and ACT 3 the resolution (25 pages). And yes, movie scripts are approximately 100 pages long. The most important thing to know about structure is that following structure by itself doesn’t guarantee a good script – it is used to convey the meaning of your story.

4) Scripts have a format which must be followed exactly. There are lots of examples online but it’s easiest to use software. For free writing software check out programs like Celtx.

Now that we have some of the basics, let’s talk about adaptations. We’ve all seen some that work and others that don’t. Adaptations don’t work for me, not because of plot or setting changes, but when characters aren’t close to what I imagined when I read the book. For example, I was disappointed in a made for television movie of The Walkers of Dembly, an Agatha Raisin novel by MC Beaton. The protagonist was very different from the one I had imagined (in looks and character) in the series and another favorite character was missing. The convention of the cozy mystery weighs heavily on character and if those personalities are too different from the book, knowledgeable viewers won’t be happy. If plot or setting changes occur, viewers tend to be more forgiving if the characters’ actions have a ring of truth about them. That is why some stories adapt well to television series and can go for seasons ‘based on’ the original on with plots which were never written in the books. Other series that have adapted successfully due to acting, script writing and direction are Murdoch Mysteries, Rizzoli and Isles and the British drama series, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

Character and dialogue (along with setting) create the tone of the movie and getting that tone right is what makes for a good adaptation. Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson’s expressed it best when she said “…it’s really all about figuring out what I can add to create a tone that‘s filmically the same as the literary tone, because tone is the most important thing, and I almost think you could do anything you want, after that.” Wilson wrote the script for The Girl on the Train and the reviews have been great. You can find Andrew Bloomenthal’s interview at SCRIPT (Division of The Writers Store) by clicking here: INTERVIEW: Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson Brings ‘The Girl on the Train’ to Life.

We’re familiar with novels and trilogies and series making it to television or to the big screen. Take heart short story writers – if you have a compelling concept, memorable characters mired in conflict, and great plot, your concept can make it to the screen too. Check out Ted Chiang’s sci fi story “Story of Your Life” then see the movie Arrival. After you’ve compared the similarities and the differences, and see how the story was adapted, perhaps you’ll be inspired to adapt your creations for the screen.

It’s not the big jackpot or nothing! There are as many opportunities in books and film as we have imagination. We’ve been practicing the art of storytelling and now all we need to do is to learn the conventions of script writing and the film industry and a whole new world of possibilities will unfold.