Q&A on Goodreads

I asked for questions about Gasparilla’s Treasure in a forum on Good Reads. Here’s the first question and answer:

READER:
My only question I ever really have when I’m finished reading a book is where the author came up with the idea. What gave you the inspiration to write ‘that’ book, specifically? Where did Gasparilla’s Treasure come from? How long was it a thought before you put it to paper?

Don’t worry, I won’t pick your brain clean. (: Just curious where authors get their ideas from. I’ve read the book, reviewed it for you, and absolutely LOVED it! But you already know that πŸ˜‰

ANSWER:
I wish I had a more interesting answer to this question. The reality is, I had penned a screenplay (different story) and gave it to a friend of mine who is an accomplished script writer. His advice was “Throw it away, read these two books, and start over.” Sure I wanted his response to be, “I love it! It’s amazing! Let’s go produce this movie right now!”, but his advice was exactly what I needed. So I read the two books on script writing. One was “Screenplay” by Syd Fields, and the other was “Writing Screenplays that Sell” by Michael Hauge.

Syd Fields breaks down the “structure” of a movie script (act 1, act 2, act 3) and what happens in each act. Michael Hauge talks about each character and what they can and can’t do. He also gives some step by step advice to writing.

One of the key points in Hauge’s book was to come up with a single sentence that defines the story, using the following format: [main character] wants or needs [what they want or need]. Every scene in your movie script should serve that sentence. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.

I sat down and wrote about 10 sentences, and the one that connected with me most was “Average 13 year old boy wants to find the treasure his family has been seeking for generations.” And Gasparilla’s Treasure (as a movie script) was born!

The Syd Fields book helped me structure the story in a way that kept it moving at a good pace without getting bogged down, and the Michael Hauge book gave me some tools to connect with the audience. With all of these things in place, the story just started to flow. It was almost easy to see exactly what the story would be and what the characters would do and how they would react.

I finished my first draft, and did a few revisions. I got another script writer friend to give it a read, and he loved it. He gave me a crucial piece of advice that required me to dive in to a heavy rewrite. He suggested a “ticking time bomb”. In my original story, Trip just wanted to find the treasure because Pappy asked him to. The “ticking time bomb” was missing. What happened if Trip didn’t find the treasure, and what happened if he didn’t find it now? I had to find the ticking time bomb.

After a bit of thought, I came up with the idea of Pappy getting tossed out of the retirement community and the impossible burden it would put on Trip’s mom. Now Trip had to find this treasure ASAP, the ticking time bomb.

This required a pretty major rewrite, because I originally had Pappy die of a heart attack, and now he needed to live. In addition, I added in some new scenes, which threw off the Syd Fields “structure” which meant I had to throw out some scenes. This felt like cutting off an arm. In the end, the story is significantly better because of it, and the proper pacing remains in tact.

So to answer your question, I started writing the idea based on a single sentence, and let it form into its own story.

When I converted the script to a book, I added a few things, and changed a few things, but the basic story, characters, and outline were all there. I did put some significant thought into the prologue, as it was not in the script. In fact, in the script, I had made up a character named Verlof, and the script was called Verlof’s Treasure. As I pondered the prologue (for months while driving back and forth between Miami and Orlando for work) I came across the true story of the pirate Gasparilla. It was a perfect fit. My original prologue was much longer, but my wife didn’t like it. And again, it was like cutting off an arm. The final prologue is about 1/3 (or even less) of the original.

OK, I think I blabbed on a little too long… I hope this answered your question πŸ™‚ I look forward to more!!!

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