Adapatation (not the movie)

Alrighty then… Since the Backstreet Boys kicked off their reunion tour, and the whole country slipped further into madness, I’ve taken it upon myself to begin adapting my dozen-or-more already-written scripts to my still-as-of-yet-unmade audio play series, The Adventures of Skybird and Air-boy, into book format.

This may seem like an easy task, after all, the stories themselves are already written, complete with plenty of dialogue. The difficulty, however, comes not in the form of filling all of the gaps and subtleties with paragraphs of rambling text and descriptors. As you can probably tell by the immense wordiness of this blog entry so far, I have no problem filling space with text. In fact, I describe my own writing style as “writing to fill pages.”

The difficult part in adapting this particular audio play series to a book comes with all of the audio-specific gags, and the meta-layers I had inserted into the series itself. The play is not truly about the main characters, Skybird and Air-boy. The play is about a radio show, and is presented as “found” audio recordings of this classic, poorly-made radio show that was “lost to time.” Through various “breaks” from character, commercials, and news segments, the real story of the audio play and the actual characters (the actors playing the titular characters) are understood.

Now, how do we convert and adapt this to book format?

I started by turning the “lost radio show” to “lost newspaper serialized story” and the ad breaks and news segments into newspaper ads and newspaper articles. Eventually I’ll get some of those into graphical image form, once I’m feeling solid about the story part itself. Now what to do about the actors playing the characters and the meta layers?

This aspect has now been turned into what I refer to as “breaking the fifth wall.” In my simplest explanation, the characters in the story are generally aware that they are being both written by an author and narrated by an equally sentient narrator, who, in turn, is also self-aware that he is being written by the ever-present “author” who is, also, a character, or caricature of myself.

And now, for a quick sample of the task I have given myself. In the original script, an episode starts as follows:

NARRATOR
CHARLES and JUDY, a young couple in love, are on a date up at the old observatory watching the stars!
JUDY
Well Charles, here we are up at the old observatory watching the stars.
CHARLES
What an incredibly awkward thing to say…
JUDY
I know, I apologize. It was written that way.
CHARLES
Pardon?!
JUDY
Never mind that. Just eat your potato salad.

Now, here is the result of my adaptation process, going line by line, turning this into an actual story:

Our story opens on a young couple in love, on a date at the old observatory. Charles, a dashing young man who has an afterschool job at a local ice cream shoppe, has taken his childhood sweetheart, Judy, to watch the stars. He couldn’t think of anything more romantic, not for lack of trying, yet simply because the author of this story seems to find things like this to be romantic. I suppose there are things far less romantic than an evening trip up to an old observatory to watch the stars. After all, sometimes the simplest of gestures are the best.

Judy, lying on a blanket spread over the lawn and staring up at the night sky, turned to her boyfriend and said, “Well, Charles, here we are up the old observatory, watching the stars.”

Charles paused for a moment, unsure of how to respond to such a blatantly obvious statement. His brow furrowed, and a concerned look spread over his youthful face, his chiseled jaw tightening a bit. “What an incredibly awkward thing to say.”

Judy sighed. Had she ruined this perfect moment? She would never forgive herself if her character’s dialogue became the one final straw that led to the end of their relationship. They had been in love for years, months even, and Charles was the one true thing in her life, everything else in her backstory being poorly written and under-developed. She decided to blame the author instead of taking responsibility for her own actions. “I know,” she said softly. “I apologize. It was written that way.”

“Pardon?” asked Charles. Never one to be self-aware, breaking the fourth wall wasn’t exactly in his character, the way it was for Judy. He admired that much about her, even though he didn’t fully understand it. It gave her a depth and charm that he found intriguing, and the sense of spontaneity excited him.

“Never mind that,” dismissed Judy. “Just eat your potato salad.”

I have already completed the first and shorter episode I had written as a “pilot episode” and you can read that HERE, if you so desire. There will be more to come as I finish more of the work!

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