I’m a movie buff. Case in point: Part of the title of this blog reads “filmophile”. I have always loved the movies. Silent, color, black and white, action, chick flicks, dramas, documentaries, comedies – I love movies of all kinds. Yet, as a writer, I prefer prose to scriptwriting.
I always envision my characters and my scenes playing out like a movie, but I cannot translate the scenes I see in my head into a screenplay. It always comes out as prose. Not for lack of trying – I have attempted a couple of screenplays, but they have not exactly turned out as well as expected.
Form and Formatting
How does that happen? How is it possible to see a story in only one form? For me, the problem is that I like to ramble. I like to describe things. I love inner monologue. These things don’t translate the same way to the screen as they do to a book page, and I haven’t quite figured out how to bridge the distinction.
Because my current edit-in-progress involves a screenwriter rather than a novelist or journalist, I wanted to consider the distinction in formats. Why did I write this particular story in “book” or “novel” form rather than “screenplay” form? I think it would work well either way, though for it to transition into a screenplay, a lot of the scenes would have to be cut, condensed, or rewritten to overcome that pesky inner monologue thing.
Write what you know?
Another reason is, as writers, we often stick to what we know – what we’re comfortable with. I’ve been writing short stories and books since I was a kid, but more than that, I’ve been READING short stories and books since I was a kid. By contrast, I have only read a couple of screenplays. Screenplays actually read really quickly, because they’re a LOT shorter word counts. Not having many examples in mind about what a screenplay should look like, I’ll admit, trying to write one has been a real challenge for me simply because of the formatting differences.
Beyond that, you don’t really use as many words in a screenplay to explain things, set a scene, create a reaction, or display emotion. The dialogue is there, and even some of the scene-setting, but the emotion and passion isn’t as easy to see as a reader or writer. Those things don’t really become apparent until the actors perform the scene. I think as a writer, I want to “direct” the scenes too much rather than leaving more of the story up to the hypothetical actors and the director.
In any case, working on this particular story again has stirred up the idea to try my hand at another screenplay. I’ve got what I think is a perfect idea for it – though it’s still formulating in my mind at the moment. As easy as it would be for me to put it down in prose, I really think this new story might work better as a screenplay. So, that’s going to be my first writing project for 2013: my first screenwriting attempt in probably 7 or 8 years.
While the average book takes me between one and three months to write a draft, I have a feeling a screenplay will take longer. I expect to be doing more research and more rewrites as I go, whereas with a book, I power through the rough, ugly first draft and then go back to edit after it’s complete.
It also may take longer because I’ll be learning a lot about the style and formatting as I go. I really would like to take the time with this project to try to broaden my experience, and if I’m lucky, improve my skills at writing in a new format.
What are some of your goals for 2013? Writing, reading, or otherwise?
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