One reason why a film script is a good way to start a novel is that it requires you to visualise every scene and the movement from one scene to the next. It also requires the script so you know what the dialogue is going to be like. By the end of the film script stage you have created the spine of the story. You can then go back and focus on the descriptive needs, the writing style, and the development and expansion of the scene. The film script is a summary and first draft.
Here is the next scene of my novel both as film script and as prose development. Note that you sometimes will have to work out whose POV is being offered – films can be ambiguous as to whether they are offering the point of view of one of the characters or an impartial God’s-view perspective.
EXT. PARK OUTSIDE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT. DAY
A demonstration of red-robed TIBETAN MONKS. They are holding placards which read: “Tibetans Wrestle for Tibet”; “Tibet for the Olympics” – several of the demonstrators have t-shirts which read: Tibetan Olympic Basketball Team. Amongst them are members of the WELSH OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM (whose t-shirts read Wales Olympic Basketball team)– all of whom, except for one very tall black athlete, are short. They hold placards that read: “Wales backs Tibet” “Small Countries Unite Against Big Countries”. “Down With Hegemony”. There is a melee as the police try to push the demonstrators.
Looking down on the crowd of demonstrators from the roof of a nearby building, as the security forces were doing, it was possible to see patterns in the crowd. There was the swirl of reds as the monks forced a passage through the onlooking crowd.
‘Got you! You bastards!’ thought police officer Rowan Jones (no relation). In P.O. R Jones’s view the object of police attention was always ‘the enemy’ and it was his job to impede ‘the enemy’ in whatever it was they, the enemy, were doing, no matter how reasonable or lawful. That was his job. Whenever he thought of it in this way he got a shiver down his back. It had, he thought, a poetic simplicity about it.
The object of his attentions on this day was a motley crowd (from where did he get these so totally apt phrases?). There were a dozen or so geezers in dark maroon dresses who had shaven heads—just like skinheads. He had been told they were Tibetan monks. He had no reason to disbelieve this information. In the first place it came from ‘The Sarge’, as he was unaffectionately known, Sergeant Jimmy Smiley. Smiley? One of God’s jokes. A more inappropriate name could not have been found for the man. Hard as nails. Tough as old boot leather. These were the descriptive phrases that popped into the head of P.O. Rowan Jones when he thought of The Sarge. If what Sergeant Jimmy Smiley said could not be absolutely trusted then he was a …? Hmm. No apt phrase seemed to be immediately available. Never mind. One would come. In time. In the second place, he had once seen a film about Tibet— some place in South America—near China—and there were geezers in the film dressed exactly the same. Funny way to dress, he thought. What was wrong with trousers?
Through his binoculars he observed the phalanx of Tibetan monks following one particular monk, who must be, P.O. Jones surmised, ‘The Leader’. The monks were carrying signs. P.O. Jones studiously noted down in his notebook the words of two of these: ‘Tibetans Wrestle for Tibet’; ‘Tibet for the Olympics’. He was now prepared to stand up in a court of law if need be and testify to what he had witnessed. But the crowd of demonstrators did not solely consist of monks. There were others, some of whom were wearing athletic clothes with writing on them. He focused on each vest one at a time and again noted down in his notebook the slogans he could read: ‘Tibetan Olympic Basketball Team’ was one, ‘Wales Olympic Basketball team’ was another—Wales? Did they have a basketball team? They all looked rather short, except for the one black player with the afro haircut. A number of other placards were suddenly visible and P.O. Jones once again scribbled down the texts: ‘Wales backs Tibet’, said one placard. ‘Small Countries Unite Against Big Countries’ said another. ‘Down with Hegemony’ said a third. Hegemony? There was a word. He had to agree with them there. Hegemony sounded disgusting, whatever it was.
The demonstrators were under pressure to move on. The police had formed a cordon backed by a number of mounted police. There was a swirling melee as the police pushed the demonstrators slowly and deliberately away from the front entrance to the Palace of Westminster. Suddenly, from out of the centre of the crowd of demonstrators, came a basketball, thrown with some energy and accuracy, which hit the side of one of the mounted policemen who very slowly toppled off his horse to the ground.
The word was very clear in the sudden quiet that followed the toppling. It had a strong coating of Tibetan. There was no doubt it was the leader of the Tibetan monks who had spoken.
‘No violence. No fighting. No throwing basketballs.’ ‘If you say so,’ came a very Welsh inflected response.
The policeman was back on his feet brushing himself down. No-one was hurt. The slow process of moving the demonstrators along the pavement continued.