(long post - my apologies)
I recently turned an old screenplay into a novel: “Mamoribito - The One Who Protects."
Here’s what I did, and what I learned – most of which will be fairly obvious to more experienced writers, but for first-timers like me there might be something useful to discover.
• Screenplays are easier to write than novels. For example, you can say “Epic sword fight” in an Action scene, but in a novel you have to come with a couple of pages to describe that. That said, you get a whole lot more story ideas when writing a novel: scenes get better, dialogue improves, plot holes get filled in (hopefully). Lesson - writing a novel makes you a better writer.
• I wrote the novel in the 1st person, having gone backwards and forwards from the 3rd person. That was fine until page 197, when I realized I needed to describe an event that was beyond sight of the protagonist. So, I created “The Void” for him to be able to do that, as if remote viewing the scene - otherwise he wouldn’t be able to describe what was happening. This was in keeping with his character, a modern day Ninja, but at first it felt like a I was cheating my way out of that little conundrum. It’s now going to be a thing for him in follow-up novels. In a screenplay, of course, you won’t have that kind of issue. Lesson - 1st person novels from screenplays may require work-arounds.
• I designed the cover myself, using Adobe InDesign, with a stock photo and a fancy Japanese font that my Japanese wife chose. Plus, a graphic designer friend reviewed the final design. But, believe me, it’s not easy to do it yourself; just getting the paper /cover size right, with the bleeds and other considerations, took time - even though KDP has several useful templates. The good part is I can use that design for later novels. Lesson - you can do your own design, but saving your pennies for a professional designer will save hours and look better. That said, I’m happy with the result I came up with.
• I wrote it in Microsoft Word, then copied into Kindle Create for the final eBook upload to KDP. This dual approach required dual updates whenever I found something that needed changing during editing. Lesson - stick to one writing tool for as long as possible, and maybe don’t upload your eBook using Kindle Create anyway (am not sure on that last point) .
• Rewriting: my goodness that’s a thing. No matter how many times you print, read, re-read, change, re-print, re-read, you will always find something that needs changing. In fact, you won’t believe how bad your writing and subsequent re-writing can until you’ve completed that cycle numerous times - and I know when I read it again sometime next month, I’ll find something I missed. Lesson - you’re never truly finished, but at some stage you have to hit the ‘publish’ key.
• One useful trick was to output from Word to a PDF, then access my OneDrive from my iPhone and upload the PDF to my Kindle Reader. That way, I could sit on the train and mark areas for editing using the Kindle Reader app’s built-in highlighter function. Method: 1) Open the PDF, tap the icon that looks like a rectangle with an arrow poking out from the top, 2) find the ‘Send File’ link (has a paperclip icon next to it), 3) Tap Kindle and select the ‘save in Kindle Library’ icon, 4) Go to your Kindle app and open the file. I found it a very useful way of seeing the final result and proof-reading at the same time
• Why did I do it? To learn how to write a novel, basically. I have other screenplays to convert to novels, and I wanted to do Mamoribito first. I learned a lot, and am now on my second novel.
• BTW, you can see the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0872LB79N
Thanks for listening
Somewhere in Tokyo