How Canadian author Mita Paulo writes for both screen & page

Mita Paulo is an up and coming author from Ottawa, Ontario who comes from a very unconventional background for a writer. She's actually an esthetician who primarily writes stories for film and television, but is now set to release an equally unconventional debut book.

It's essentially a collection not of traditional short stories but rather film and television plots that are strong enough to stand on their own without the need for any stitching narration or explanatory world building.

We took a few moments to catch up with Paulo and find out more about this groundbreaking release.

Writing a book for the television age

When television first became a popular media, some commentators felt that people would leave the written word altogether as they transitioned instead toward getting their fiction fix from Channel 4 or the BBC. Paulo, however, has leveraged the power of television and cinema as a source of inspiration. Her book, which was first released on 28 January, has no less than 201 separate stories. Paulo has gone on record saying that she's most proud of the fact that each of these stories are original. While they're designed after the kinds of stories that work on both the big and small screens, they're all completely original.

Most of them are tinged with the feel of horror and thriller flicks as a result, but there's plenty of crime-solving, romance and dramatic plots. It's a diverse enough collection that her stories should appeal to a very wide audience. Some critics have suggested that they should even proven attractive to those who might not otherwise have ever been bit by the reading bug. Since these are, after all, stories for film and television they might be able to find a crossover audience who might never otherwise have even picked up a book.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the whole saga is the fact that writing for film is dramatically different from writing a novel, yet Paulo has been able to bridge the gap.

Why the book is always better

Novels are a different medium from what's used to tell a story on a movie screen. Since a book can constantly explore the inner thoughts and feelings of characters, people who really loved a novel might be disappointed with its film adaptation. Movies simply can't dedicate screen time to these issues, because it might alienate viewers who would have a difficult time keeping up with all of the changes in perspective. This has led to a perception that books are always better than the movies that adapt them.

On the other hand, some have found that TV tie-in novelisations are often quixotic productions that tend to be filled with purple prose that makes following the often simplified story rather hard. Paulo has challenged both of these perceptions by writing her stories in such a way that they very well could be adapted for film or television without having to sacrifice much in the way of detail. At the same time, she's attempted to add a visual layer to her work by offering illustrations and teasers on her Instagram page.

She's told book reviewers that she hopes to showcase her work through various combined visual media in the future, including conventional movies and television dramas. However, it seems like she's hard at work preserving her original concepts so that her page-turning artistic vision won't be muddied by the meddling of outside forces.

Working to preserve an artist's legacy

Whenever an author's plot is adapted for the silver screen, it has to go through some changes when it's converted into a shooting script. Making a short teleplay can be even harder. Turning something like Cliff Bacchus' Curses of Cousins into an hour-long production that's further edited to make room for commercials would be nothing short of a travesty.

Welsh author Ken Follett has experienced similar challenges. His novel Eye of the Needle was shot as a film back in 1981, and it opened to great critical acclaim. That being said, some fans of the novel felt that it cut a lot of material out of their preferred piece of literature. The book still enjoys a greater than 4 star rating today, which goes to showcase the staying power of an artist's vision.

As soon as film directors see the massive amount of potential in Mita Paulo's writings, they'll be quick to start commissioning shooting scripts. These will be different, however, since very little material will need to be adjusted to to exist on screen. They've already been written in a way that's similar to what audiences might expect. This might very well make it one of the few times that the fans of a book do indeed feel that the movie has done a book justice.

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