The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LION'S BLOOD back in print!

The "ebook" of my novel LION'S BLOOD

just went up on Amazon, and I'm thrilled.

Amazon was considered the antiChrist when it first came in, driving bookstores out of existence. But frankly, the fact that my backlist is available through used books put a big smile on my face. And now eBooks? Nothing I ever write will ever go out of print again. There is also an aspect of being your own publishing company--my partners Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and


I was on the road over the weekend, driving from Atlanta to Tallehasse for my wife's mother's funeral. Didn't take my computer with me (although I did take the iPad!) but took my screenplay in printed form. Then, in quiet moments in the hotel room, I could dive in and simply read it over. Not "trying" to write dialogue, but slipping it in if it fit. Just adding notes, and then entering the notes into my Final Draft when I get home automatically expands the script by a few pages...and the last time I checked the first draft is now 31 page long. Not bad for an "effortless" process.

The most important thing is identifying the driving philosophy. In the case of my project (sorry I'm being artfully vague, but that's unavoidable until I'm further along in the process. Sorry, but in Hollywood, ideas really do get stolen.) The core question is: Is every man an island, standing alone? Or are we each a link in a chain, our lives only gaining meaning when we acknowledge our ancestors and prepare our descendants for adulthood?

Those two points of view: living for self versus living for community, can form a nice duality. IF, (and it is by no means certain) I use them, then what happens is that every scene becomes an argument for or against one of these points of view. Generally, this happens during the rewrite process--write your first draft with white heat, then slow down and labor over the polishes.

For instance: in the first scene, a small boy stands at a crossroads in 1940 rural Mississippi. The visual cues are deliberate:

1) A crossroads. Literally a "turning point" in his life.

2) on one side of the road are white farmers. On the other, black farmers. The film deals partially with this cultural/ethnic divide, and we get a visual symbol of this.

3) He is alone, until his grandfather picks him up...and takes him to a farm where he will meet other boys cared for by his grandparents. (moving from "every man stands alone" to "link in a chain" with visual imagery.

I'll be going through the screenplay, looking for ways to play with these images without bringing them to the audience's conscious attention. Explore the philosophy by contrasting it with its opposite, allowing thesis and antithesis to "battle it out", with one philosophy winning in one scene...and then the other winning in the next...back and forth and back and forth, allowing the energy to grow and flare until the viewer is on the edge of his seat, wondering which will win. THAT is how the job is done.

More tomorrow...


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