They're never your books, no matter how much sweat you put into them. The person you're writing for always has a cast of characters and a set-up. To call what they give you a plot would be kind. Ego is always involved, although I've been very lucky so far, but I have a feeling I'm going to have trouble with this new client. He's written a novel, self-published, and he wants to turn it into a movie.
So, this isn't exactly a ghost assignment, but it's close. The producers have hired me to adapt this vanity-press potboiler into a screenplay for a run and gun, six actors and two locations blockbuster that used to be called a Drive-In movie but is now Direct-to-DVD.
But before I could write the screenplay, I had to read the novel, which was hard, because there is no story. None. Not a story to be found in all of the 300+ pages. Whenever I thought I saw a story coming down the road, it turned off into a rutted path of digression over golf, Arizona flora or a character we'd never hear from again, but for some reason, we had to know about their car and, if he was a tough guy, we would endure a penis joke. And no, they were never good penis jokes.
So it's up to me to come up with penis jokes that are, you know, actually jokes. Not to mention a plot, motivations for characters that are are more complex than convenient, and most important, a plausible reason for a young woman to take off her shirt in the first three minutes.
That I can do.
People always ask about this kind of work for hire and wonder how I'd feel if the thing became a huge hit, making millions for my client while I was paid a Burger King wage. Ladies and gentlemen, I could be wrong, but I don't think this will be the Da Vinci Code. There's not enough lipstick in the world to brighten up this pig.
More as the production moves forward.
It's Monday. Time for work.