Wow, somehow I neglected to post my notes from the March Willamette Writer’s talk by William Nolan. Sorry!
Co-author of Logan’s Run
Willamette Writer’s Announcements
· Open house at Willamette Writer’s House on April 21st from 3pm to 8pm
· WW Conference will be a little different this year: new tracks on self-publishing, Thursday night master classes.
· Started writing at the age of 10.
· Made his first sale at 25.
· Been writing for 75 years, 60 years of it professionally.
· My mother kept the first piece of writing I ever wrote. A terrible poem with misspellings. She kept, I still have it.
· By age 10, writing adventure stories.
· Wrote a story about a crime fighting snake.
· You can do a lot of bad writing when you’re young, and you never know it.
· If I saw those stories for the first time, I’d say that the author should not become a writer.
· Most famous for Logan’s Run.
o There’s been a remake in the running for 19 years
o Would love to see a remake because the 1976 movie had so many dumb mistakes, and lacked special effects.
· How did you write Logan’s Run?
o I was 27. It was my first novel.
o I went to a lecture at UCLA. Charles Beaumont (Twilight Zone) Challenge to distinguish social fiction and science fiction. Came up with an idea, then thought maybe he could make $50 on a short story.
o Then George Clayton Johnson said let’s write a screenplay.
o Nolan said let’s write a novel first, and then the screenplay.
o They took turns writing in a motel room for three weeks, spelling each other at the typewriter.
o Nolan wanted to just sell it for $250 to Ave.
o George said “you promised a screenplay”
o They wrote the screenplay, got offered $60,000 by MGM.
o Went for an agent. Decided to hold out for $100,000.
o From Friday to Monday the offer went up from $60,000 to $100,000. (A ton of money for the 1960s.)
o They threw our Nolan and George’s script
o The commissioned one has illogical stuff.
o The directory said “Science fiction doesn’t need logic”.
o But science fiction needs logic more than anything else. You’re developing a fantasy world, and you need it to hang together coherently.
o The MGM movie was a disaster. The actors were good, because they were British trained on Shakespeare.
· Hollywood is just bizarre: Got asked to make a movie just like Zorro, except not named Zorro. They wanted a guy in a mask, with a sword, who wrote his initial on walls, and with a mute Indian sidekick . So he wrote “Nighthawk Rides” at their request, then they sent it to the studio, and the studio rejected it as being too close to Zorro.
· Written 200 short stories. 88 books.
· Ray Bradbury, one of his closest friends for over 50 years.
o Nola did first scholarly article on Bradbury.
o Would go to the magic castle. Could only go if you were a magician. Ray was. They’d went to a Houdini séance at the castle, but Houdini never showed up.
· Grew up in Kansas city, for 19 years, then went out to California, then up to Oregon, now in Washington.
· See The Intruder
o Written by Charles Beaumont
o Directed by Roger McCormick
o William Shatner’s first role
o Gene Cooper was in it.
o Lots of science fiction people in it.
o The actors only got a single sheet of notes each, didn’t even know what the picture was about, or what was going on.
· Scriptwriting is one thing and prose is another
o You have to change the whole method of presentation for a screenplay.
o A novel has a character with interior thoughts and desires.
o With a screenplay, you’ve got visuals and you’ve got dialogue.
o You have to completely eliminate interior thoughts.
o [You have to rely on the director and actors]
o Novel -> Synopsis -> Coverage (one paragraph) -> Sentence
§ “High Concept”: originated with a producer who was too coked out to read the coverage
o The first thing they do when they buy a novel is throw out the novel.
· Writing is also a choice of what to expand and what to condense.
o Beginning/bad writers focus on exactly the wrong things: they’ll spend a page on walking into a room, and then say “he meets the girl”.