I am trying to convert a fiction book into a film script. The book uses third-person past tense narration that switches between several characters from chapter to chapter and thus is always from a particular character's viewpoint. There is quite a bit of indirect thought from the narrator/character in which they add more details about characters, setting, past events, etc. Direct thought is also used to show character reactions/feelings in situations where they don't want the other characters around them to hear those reactions/feelings.
I would like any thoughts (indirect or direct) of the narrator/character to become voice-over narration in the film since I cannot see how these would translate over otherwise. However, the challenge I'm having is that indirect thought is in third person past, direct thought is in first person present. At first, I thought, just convert all indirect thought to direct thought. This would make everything very simple since all thoughts would become voice-over in the film script, and action narration would stay as action on screen. But this isn't very straightforward, for me at least. A large part of the problem is that it doesn't make sense for the narrator/character to be having direct thoughts about things they already know, and therefore makes it very contrived and obvious that these thoughts are there just for the audience and each time it happens it feels like a fourth wall break. At this stage, I have been doing rewrites of the indirect thoughts to make them convey the same details but in a way that would make sense when the narrator/character is talking to themselves in a sane way.
For example, to demonstrate the above, bold is indirect thought, italics is direct thought.
Jill arrived earlier than expected and so decided to visit a block of flats nearby. Ruth, Jill's sister, was living here, she had moved to the docks after her divorce. I hate the docks, thought Jill. The smell of the water reminded Ruth of her ex-husband which is why she decided to stay here. Next year I'll have to move away, I should tell Ruth soon. "Hi Jill," said Ruth suddenly, appearing from around the corner. "Your son tells me you're planning to move next year. Explain." Damn you Ruth!
So as mentioned, simply changing the bold above to first-person present as direct thought, seems to just make the narrator/character sound a little crazy or suffering from memory loss. Here is an example of a rewrite:
- Original (indirect thought)
- Ruth, Jill's sister, was living here, she had moved to the docks after her divorce.
- First Rewrite (direct thought with tense change only)
- Ruth, my sister, is living here, she moved to the docks after her divorce.
- Second Rewrite (direct thought with additional changes)
- My sister Ruth should be home around now, maybe she'll have more funny stories about when her ex-husband and she used to go sailing.
The third sounds the best to me but still feels a bit forced, however; I can't come up with anything better.
Is there a better way to approach this kind of "conversion" while staying as true to the source material as possible yet still taking advantage of film as a medium?
A similar question has been asked at Movie and TV Stack Exchange, some very useful suggestions over there.