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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An American Family {book blog tour}

Welcome to An American Family blog tour.  Thank you for stopping by during this tour.

Today, enjoy a guest post from Peter Lefcourt, author of An American Family.

Scripts vs. Novels: Peter Lefcourt’s Take on the Similarities and Differences

The similarity pretty much begins and ends with the fact that both careers involve writing. But that’s about as far as it goes. As many other writers, I came to Los Angeles with the intention of making enough money to finance my lifestyle as a novelist. As it turned out, I found that television writing was not only lucrative but a good apprenticeship in the art of story-telling. You learn how to tell a story economically, which is an invaluable skill in fiction writing. And you learn how to write to a deadline. On the other hand, you soon learn that in Hollywood the writer is a fungible element in filmmaking, summarily replaced by another writer when he/she offers resistance to all the “creative” input from directors, studio execs, producers, and actors. You are, essentially, a hired gun, at the beck and call of others – a well-paid hired gun perhaps, to be sure, but one with very little control over the product.
Moreover, there is very little “voice” in screenwriting. In books it is often the way you tell a story and not the story itself that compels readers. I am drawn to language and voice; and with the possible exception of a facility for dialogue (a skill that is almost impossible to teach: I learned how people talk driving a cab in New York in the sixties – an education worth more, in my opinion, than a PHD in Creative Writing) -- these elements are not valued in screenwriting.

Nevertheless, Hollywood has allowed me the wherewithal to travel a great deal, to perfect the craft of story telling and, ultimately, to reinvent myself as a novelist and have both careers mutually reinforce each other. I’m not sure I would have succeeded in one without the other.

Here is my excerpt for June 27th:

There was only one single room in the entire house, located off the kitchen in the basement. The room was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and smelled of cooking oil and ripe vegetables.

But Michael Perl had chosen that room, when no one else wanted it. The third-year business major had negotiated a reduced-rate rent from the fraternity, paying 60 per cent of the normal room charge. Michael got his board free by waiting tables and cleaning up at dinner. While his fraternity brothers sat at the long tables, in jackets and ties, Michael brought the tureens of soup and platters of food out and kept the pitchers of iced tea full.

At the end of his freshman year in the dorm, he had joined the fraternity—the only Jewish fraternity on campus. Being around people with a lot more money that he had was a new experience for Michael Perl. 
Follow along with An American Family blog tour, and view tomorrow's excerpt by visiting the next blog.

Read Emmy winner Peter Lefcourt's  latest book, AN AMERICAN FAMILY. The novel chronicles the lives of an immigrant family beginning on the day John Kennedy was shot and ending on 9/11.

Find An American Family (Kindle Edition) on Amazon.

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