I first wrote this novella in five parts for the Confessions community where it did not get a lot of reads. I was hoping it would do better in the Chapters community so I had it moved here. And now I am creating an index story so that all the parts can be accessed in one place.
The story is based on real people even though I took a creative license in dramatizing it and presenting the events through different prisms of the main characters. I will, of course, never know the true feelings and thoughts of the characters involved, but I've made it as close to the real story told to me as possible.
In Chapter 1, I introduce the main characters - a middle-class affluent couple Paul and Julie - who have three children of college and high school age. The story's inciting incident unfolds when the eldest son Mark brings home to his parents a family DNA kit as a present, sending them into a whirlpool of emotions and memories.
In Chapter 2, I give a background story of how Paul and Julie met in college, their love and professional life, and introduce the big family secret involving Mark. Paul and Julie argue whether they should reveal the secret to the children before the DNA results arrive.
In Chapter 3, more background and family history emerges. Paul and Julie continue arguing about whether they should tell the truth to their children and contemplate what will happen if they do not and the DNA test results reveal the secret.
Chapter 4 presents details about the parents' intention to tell the truth and several attempts to do so that were sabotaged either by the parents themselves or the circumstances. They continue to argue and the kids start suspecting that the parents are about to divorce. The truth comes out at the most inopportune time, driving the family into chaos.
Chapter 5 wraps the story up and brings the family back together. I had to give it a happy ending because that's how the real story ended. Besides, there are already too many family dramas in life with sad endings.
I had an opportunity to take a screenwriting course last year and am currently working on converting this story into a movie script. I was encouraged by my instructor who told me the story lends itself extremely well for the visual interpretation.
Writing a movie script is not an easy job, as I'm finding out. Even though I love writing the dialogue and the dialogue in this novella drives the plot, it is not enough for a movie. You cannot simply have people talking in the movie the entire time, so a lot of this dialogue needs to be transformed into action.
The second challenge of writing the movie script is that you cannot describe characters' emotions and thoughts. That all must be left to the actors and the director's interpretation. The script should only include the scene settings, short descriptions of actions in the present tense, and dialogues. So, a lot of the background story in this novella needs to be presented as a parallel story through flashbacks of the characters' memories, weaving them in a spiral manner.
As I was working on the script, I also realized that I need to introduce more conflict and tests for the main characters as conflict and suspense are at the heart of any good movie. So, I have to give the characters more history and depth, as well as come up with new scenes and events for dramatic purposes.
I must admit, I really enjoy the process, even though it is painstakingly slow as I have to prioritize my day job. But when I'm done, I will face another challenge of trying to sell the script. I would love to see this great story as a movie, if I may say so myself.