Date of Award

1988

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English

Department

English

Abstract

In choosing to adapt a book for television, I am faced with a transition process complicated by necessary consideration of the visual/aural dimension. I must analyze the story to be adapted and then reconstruct, on the basis of that analysis, the essence of that story in a new, more dramatic medium with a completely different vocabulary and set of techniques. The book, then, is the raw material from which I must synthesize a flow of narration true to the spirit of the original, yet distinct from it in form, emphasis and detail. In attempting such a synthesis, I found that three readings of the text were necessary for me to gain sufficient understanding of Van, the central character, and her relationship to the world around her so that I could then manipulate her circumstances to fit the screenplay format I had laid out. This entailed a compression of time, shifts in chronology, elimination of irrelevant subplots, and enhancement of those details which contributed to my overall scheme. The result was so large in scope that, for the sake of coherence and manageability, I chose to limit the script to the Vietnam portion of the story. As a result I was able, within this somewhat more well-defined range, to revise more quickly and purposefully. One difficulty I encountered while transferring Home Before Morning from the traditional prose text to the visually oriented screenplay format involved my initial reluctance to deviate from the literal confines of the originating material. The adapter, while retaining a certain respect for the written work, must, for practical and creative considerations, be able to approach this work dispassionately. A second difficulty lay in the actual manipulation of the textual material in order that a dramatic climax be attained in true cinematic fashion. The screenwriter must be ever mindful of his/her theme so that the choices made are for the betterment of this theme. And, since the essence of motion pictures is the symbiotic relationship between sight and sound, it is of the utmost importance to think of cinema tic narration in precisely those terms.

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