The Nativity Story is showing in schools in Virginia . . . very cool.

When the movie came out, my neighborhood book club went to see it together–and I enjoyed the film even more the second time! Maybe I was more relaxed, or maybe this time I wasn’t as intent on noticing the differences between book and film. In any case, I highly recommend it. Don’t wait–get out to see it at your first available opportunity! Here’s a link to a review of the film by CT.

The writing–not much to say here, except that “the writing” went hand-in-hand with “the research” because whenever I came to a new scene in the screenplay, I checked the historical details with my reference books.

In writing the novel, I wanted to honor the structure of the screenplay, and I wanted to stick to the dialogue as much as possible. I didn’t want the novel to read like a completely different critter. It is a novelization of a screenplay, so I wanted to respect Mike’s excellent work–he had some great lines of dialogue, and they’re in the book. But because the screenplay kept evolving (they were filming as I was writing), I also felt free to let the characters speak for themselves. Characters have a way of coming to life, you know, and sometimes they just kept talking.

A screenplay is action and dialogue. A novel is description, scenery, exposition, dialogue, and interior monologue. The advantage of a novel is that the reader and writer can really get into a character’s head, so I did. I did constrain myself, however, and didn’t let myself get sidetracked or take off in a completely different direction. No new subplots, no additional characters. And the only scenes I added were necessary, I felt, either to flesh out the history or the background of the action in the screenplay. I added scenes of Mary and Joseph dedicating Jesus in the Temple because I felt it was important to the timeline and because I wasn’t under the same time crunch the filmmakers faced.  Plus, it was historical, and THE reason Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem for some time–until the angel told them to flee to Egypt. 

This is the only novel-from-screenplay that I’ve published, and I knew that the final work would have to be approved by the people at New Line Cinema. I knew my job was to respect the screenplay and the film while bringing the story to life in the form of a novel.

When I saw the movie, I noticed that some new dialogue cropped up as they filmed . . . and some scenes that were in the screenplay didn’t make it into the movie. I know that’s nothing unusual, and I’m glad that I wasn’t bound to a time frame or word count in which to tell this incredible story. I admire screenwriters, but I love being a novelist.

Tomorrow: the editing.



  1. Anonymous

    I love the comment, “Characters have a way of coming to life, you know, and sometimes they just kept talking.” That’s what makes your novels so delicious!

    Clyde Osterhaus Thayer

  2. Dianne

    I just saw the movie Sunday. Now I just have to get my hands on the book. Seriously, I really appreciate the behind the scenes look at this story and the writing thereof.

  3. daisymarie

    This is such great insight into the process. All the “stuff” we take for granted when we hold or view the finished object.


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