So you can read my books

Sunday, June 3, 2012


June is here. And so is BuMoWriMo –

which sounds like you trying to ask the dentist to get his pain-inflicting  fingers out of your mouth!

Ask any screenwriter. 

From experience they know from their point (the start of the process)

to the film being released into cinemas, it takes about 18 months (for a decent movie at least).

The screen writing for TWILIGHT took only 6 weeks, but the filming and touching-up took roughly eight or nine months. 

Yes, I know. Earlier I said it took 18 months … but that was for a decent movie, remember?
And then there is CASABLANCA:

The start of production was on May 25.  

Filming was completed on August 3, and the production cost $1,039,000 ($75,000 over budget) - above average for the time. The film was shot in sequence, mainly because only the first half of the script was ready when filming began.

The film was a solid, if unspectacular, success in its initial run, rushed into release to take advantage of the publicity from the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier.

 Despite a changing assortment of screenwriters frantically adapting an unstaged play and barely keeping ahead of production, and Bogart attempting his first romantic lead role,

Casablanca won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic, and the film has grown in popularity to the point that it now consistently ranks near the top of lists of the greatest films of all time.

The uncredited Casey Robinson assisted with three weeks of rewrites, including contributing the series of meetings between Rick and Ilsa in the café.

Koch highlighted the political and melodramatic elements, while Curtiz seems to have favored the romantic parts, insisting on retaining the Paris flashbacks.

Wallis wrote the final line ("Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.") after shooting had been completed. Bogart had to be called in a month after the end of filming to dub it.

Despite the many writers, the film has what Ebert describes as a "wonderfully unified and consistent" script.

 Koch later claimed it was the tension between his own approach and Curtiz's which accounted for this: "Surprisingly, these disparate approaches somehow meshed,

and perhaps it was partly this tug of war between Curtiz and me that gave the film a certain balance."

Julius Epstein would later note the screenplay contained "more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined. But when corn works, there's nothing better.”

My point?

All the writers CARED.  Yes, they needed to hit a WORD QUOTA                but THEY CARED about the quality of those words.

Quotations from Casablanca (1942)

Senor Ferrari: Might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles.

Captain Renault: I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Run off with a senator's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the Romantic in me.

Rick: It was a combination of all three.

[Ugarte sells exit visas]
Ugarte: You despise me, don't you?

Rick Blaine: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

Ugarte: Rick, think of all the poor devils who can't meet Renault's price. I get it for them for half. Is that so ... parasitic?

Rick Blaine: I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.

Renault: If Rick has the letters, he's much too smart to let you find them there.

Strasser: You give him credit for too much cleverness. My impression was that he's just another blundering American.

Renault: You mustn't underestimate American blundering. I was with them when they "blundered" into Berlin in 1918.

Renault: Carl, see that Major Strasser gets a good table, one close to the ladies.

Carl: I have already given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway.

[Renault has ordered that Rick's close immediately]

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

Employee of Rick's: [hands Renault money] Your winnings, sir.

Renault: Oh, thank you, very much. Everybody out at once!

Yvonne: Where were you last night?

Rick Blaine: That's so long ago, I don't remember.

Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?

Rick Blaine: I never make plans that far ahead.

Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for.

Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.

Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.

Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't

believe in his heart.

Major Strasser: What is your nationality?

Rick Blaine: I'm a drunkard.

Capt. Louis Renault: That makes Rick a citizen of the world.

[Of Victor Lazlo, who wants to escape from Casablanca]
Capt. Louis Renault: No matter how clever he is, he still needs an exit visa . . . or should I say two?

Rick Blaine: Why two?

Capt. Louis Renault: He is traveling with a lady.

Rick Blaine: He'll take one.

Capt. Louis Renault: I think not. I have seen the lady.

Capt. Louis Renault: My dear Ricky, you overestimate the influence of the Gestapo. I don't interfere with them and they don't interfere with me. In Casablanca I am master of my fate! I am . . .

Police Officer: Major Strasser is here, sir!

Rick Blaine: You were saying?

Capt. Louis Renault: Excuse me.

Rick Blaine: I congratulate you.

Victor Lazlo: What for?

Rick Blaine: . . . your work.

Victor Lazlo: I try my best.

Rick Blaine: We all try. You succeed.

[When Sam doesn't want to play "As Time Goes By"]
Rick Blaine: Play it!

Rick Blaine to Ilsa: Who are you really? And what were you before? And what did you do? And what did you think?

Rick Blaine: Here's looking at you, kid.

[After observing the gambling tables at Rick's]
Customer: Are you sure this place is honest?
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!

[As he goes to hand Renault a bribe]
Jay Brandel: Capt. Renault ... may I?

Capt. Louis Renault: Oh no! Not here please! Come to my office tomorrow morning. We'll do everything businesslike.

Jay Brandel: We'll be there at six!

Capt. Louis Renault: I'll be there at ten.

Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Capt. Louis Renault: I'm shocked ... shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

[A croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Capt. Louis Renault: Oh, thank you ... very much. Everybody out at once!

Rick Blaine: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Ilsa Lund: Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.

Rick Blaine: And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart.
Capt. Louis Renault: That is my least vulnerable spot.

[After he watches Rick do the shooting, Renault gives orders to his police]
Capt. Louis Renault: Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.

[Last line]
Rick Blaine: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


  1. I've never heard of BuMoWriMo, sounds grueling! I'm not one for extreme writing challenges myself. Going too fast means tougher revisions later. I can't imagine how it would be with screen plays!

  2. Casablanca is one of my favourite movies, although I think Ilsa made the wrong decision. I would go with my heart and stay with Rick. No one was sure what would happen.

    In that time, the forties, martyrism and patriotism were the order of the day. So the movie didn't exactly end happily ever after...

    I don't do these one-month writing jaunts. (BUMOWRIMO)

  3. Heather:
    Slapping together words works about as well as slapping together boards in building a house! LOL. You're right about the revisions!

    CASABLANCA is one of my favorite movies, too. WWII was still going strong in 1942 -- and it looked as if we were losing. So you're right: sacrifice for the greater good was the theme of the day ... with great cause. We might be speaking German if many had not made the ultimate sacrifice back then!

  4. I wrote most of the first draft of CassaFire during NaNo 2010 and then spent the next six months doing revisions before sending to my publisher. (CassaStar took eighteen months total.) And I am well aware that the quality of CassaFire exceeded that of my first book.
    The first draft it the most grueling part of the process for me. I discovered that doing it with a deadline and goal motivates me and ensures I will actually finish it. There are writers who can crank out several books a year. I will never be one of those authors. But I only have to complete one more book...

  5. Alex:
    You must do what works for you, of course. But the danger to cranking out a novel in a short space of time is that you lose the practice of fine tuning your prose as you go along. Plot-holes emerge which makes black holes look like pimples!

    After an entire novel is written from flawed grasps of the characters it is too late to go back without having to do so much major re-writing, it would have been simpler to just focus as you went along.

    That's just the old writing teacher in me. Don't get the ghost of Ernest Hemingway going on this!! LOL.

    Good luck on your next novel. Never say it's the last one -- life loves to trip us up on statements like that! Roland

  6. What amazes me still about the legend that is Casablanca is how first casting was supposed to be Ronald Reagan and someone else not Ingrid Bergman as the leads! Yikes!!!

    I've heard of Nano but not this one!

    Take care

  7. Kitty:
    Can't see anyone but Bogey playing Rick Blaine ... and there is only one Ilsa ... and that's Ingrid Bergman!

    As you can tell, I am not a fan of either one-month gauntlet! LOL.

    Thanks for visiting and staying to talk awhile. Roland