So you want to switch sides?
Hey, Cindy! I can't believe I got you here. (I had to drag her in!)
Thanks to Mary and the Pink Fuzzies for letting me blog with them today!
What do you have for us today?
As a novel writer have you ever thought of jumping ship? Switching sides? Writing a - screenplay? I have to admit I’d thought about writing a screenplay for a while. When I was in high school I even wrote a series with my high school friends as the main characters. I was even going to film it and everything. I had no idea if I was doing it right or not. I found some screenplays somewhere. I can’t even remember where. The internet, not really a “thing” back then. But I wrote out a script then completely forgot about it.
Back in high school, at least in grade 11, 12, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Fast forward a lot of years to a time when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’d been diligently reading Writer’s Digest every month. And every year they had their Annual Writing Competition I wanted to enter. By this time I was writing novels though so, for me, the short story category was out of the question. I didn’t think I could write one of those anymore. Every year I thought I should enter the screenplay category. But I had no idea how to write one, where to start, if I could come up with an idea that wasn’t a book. It didn’t really matter because every year when I remembered I wanted to enter, the deadline had already passed.
Then one year I remembered early. And I thought I could do it. Switch sides, at least for a little while. Story telling was story telling, wasn’t it? I knew all about show, don’t tell, pacing, dialogue, conflict, three act structure. How hard could it be to write a script? Harder than I thought it would be.
Even though you’re telling a story, you’re telling it in a different way. You’re creating a blueprint for the director so he can film the movie. There are certain ways you have to introduce characters, introduce dialogue. There’s a lot more white space in a script. The “rules” are a lot more strict when it comes to margins and fonts, but for good reason.
I did enter that year. Not just one script, but two. And both received honourable mention. I haven’t looked back. Now I write scripts and novels. I think the skills complement each other. Using screenwriting techniques with my novels has helped me improve those novels immensely. Not to mention keep me on track so when I’m writing the story I don’t stray too much.
So have you ever thought about switching sides? Trying something new? Writing a movie even if it’s simply to turn one of your own novels into a script? I think it’s a great exercise to try.
I talk more in depth about the differences between writing scripts and writing novels in my workshop Is That Hollywood Calling? - How Thinking Like a Screenwriter Can Improve Your Novel. Comment here to be entered to win a lecture packet. If you don’t win, don’t worry! There’s still time to register for the class at: http://www.writersonlineclasses.com/?page_id=592