Monday, August 20, 2012

Novel or Screenplay?

A couple weeks ago my writing group held a public reading night.  A local bookstore gave us the space and a dozen or so members read to whomever stopped by.

Some of our group find these events unnerving but I enjoy them.  Maybe there's a little frustrated ham in me.  I did have childhood fantasies of being an actress.  In fact, I auditioned for our class play in the third grade but I was turned down because I wasn't loud enough.  (I'm glad my sons don't follow my blog - they'd be on the floor right now.) 

But I digress.

I wrote a short story specifically for this night and I noticed I write differently when I'll be reading the story aloud.  For one thing, I skip most dialogue tags and use a different voice for each character.  Yes, I know we create separate character voices in our writing, but it's a lot easier to do verbally.

This caused me to remember a critique I once received that said my plot, action, character development, and dialogue were good but I needed to layer in a lot more setting, more visual description.


I'm stronger in plot, action, character development, and dialogue.  I like verbalizing (or hearing someone else verbalize) my character's voices.  I'm weaker in visual description and setting.

Should I be writing screenplays?

It's an "out of left field" idea and I'll have to do a lot of research and study if I try going in that direction but does anyone have any insight to offer?  Any experience you'd like to share?

Just wondering.

Couple of notes on upcoming events...

On September 5, I'll have a special guest, author Marilyn Meredith, with a special contest. Don't miss it.

On September 17 I'll be participating in Alex Cavanaugh's latest BlogFest.  This should be fun. Why don't you join in?

Trivia Question for Today:

In what country was Britain's Queen Elizabeth II when she became Queen in 1952?


Maria Zannini said...

It makes me wonder if you would write differently if you dictated your story on Dragon Naturally Speaking or other speech recognition software.

Sometimes I rehearse the dialog to see if I've got the voice right. Though I don't know that I'd ever work up the nerve to read in public.

PS Can I get your sons' email addresses? I really think they should read this post. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm the same way. Maybe we should both switch to screenplays.
And thanks for mentioning my blogfest!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm not great at description of either setting or people. I'm getting better (I think!) but it's something I have to always be aware of :)

Let's guess.... Scotland?

Lauren said...

I don't thnk screenwriting is that big of a switch from novel and short story writing if you're already good at dialogue. I would recommend checking out a few books on screenwriting just to learn the correct format and structure, but then have a go at it! It could be fun. I know I enjoy switching between screenplays and novel/short stories.

The best book I ever read on screenplay structure was "The Screenwriter's Bible" by David Trottier. I know people always recommend "Save the Cat," but I can't comment on that because, sadly, I haven't read it!

Carol Kilgore said...

Not a clue about Elizabeth. I've always heard it's all but impossible to sell a screenplay unless you have connections. So if you do, go for it!

I'm going to be on blog break in September, so I'll be missing all kinds of fun stuff. But I'll be writing!

Stacy McKitrick said...

I'll guess Great Britain for the Trivia Question, because I really have no clue (without Googling it, and that would be cheating, wouldn't it?).

I'm sorry I had to miss the Beatnik Cafe. They always seem to happen on a weekend I'm not in town! I hate being on display, but like people hearing my work. Did you get a good crowd?

Lydia Kang said...

I hear writing screenplays is really fun. Maybe you should give it a try!

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I always read my story aloud when I'm editing but it's still different than knowing I'll be reading it to an audience.

And, no!, I'm not giving you my sons' e-mail. You'd turn me in in a heartbeat.

Karin said...

I am going to guess Malta because I believe Phillip was stationed there. I don't remember the exact sequence and dates. I had a real fascination with the British Monarchy at one time and read all I could get my hands on. Turns out Princess Margaret was quite a character!

LD Masterson said...

Alex - Okay, I will if you will.

And you're welcome. Looking forward to the blogfest.

LD Masterson said...

Jemi - I have to work at it, too.

Good guess but nope.

LD Masterson said...

Lauren - Thanks for the recommendation. I might just give it a go.

LD Masterson said...

Carol - Nope, no contacts. But then I haven't sold a book yet either so what the heck. :-)

Have a fun and productive break.

LD Masterson said...

Stacy - Nope. She was not in the UK.

Sorry you missed it, too. We had fun. Not a great crowd, though. Bookstore space was too small.

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - Maybe we should create some kind of screen playing challenge for first timers. A spin off on NaNo.

LD Masterson said...

Hi Karin - Nope. Not Malta.

I'm a bit of a British Monarchy buff myself but I like to go back a ways.

Anonymous said...

My first book was oroiginally written as a screenplay. After zero success with it I turned it into a book.

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - Hmmm. Maybe the reverse would work for me.

Maryann Miller said...

Like Stephen, several of my books started as screenplays. I found doing the screenplay made a great skeleton upon which to put the added layers of setting, mood, etc. It works great.

While there are some similarities in story structure with screenplays and novels, there are also some differences. I wrote my first screenplay as an adaptation of a short story of mine that had won a contest in a writer's conference. One of the judges said the story had a strong visual quality to it and suggested I try turning it into a screenplay. I went to a screenwriting workshop and then bought Syd Field's book, Screenplay." At the time it was THE book to have for beginning scriptwriters. There are updated versions of it out and I recommend it for someone who wants to learn the basic story structure as well as format. This is a good place to start, then also read "Save the Cat" "Making a Good Script Great" and "The Screenwriter's Bible."

Darke Conteur said...

I LOVE script writing. Such a different beast altogether. I do scripts for ideas that I know can't work in novel format. There is a difference when writing too, but many posters have already told you that.

If you want to give it a try (and I say DO IT), my first suggestion is to follow some in the industry. The first thing they'll tell you is to read finished scripts, but if you're like me and no where near Hollywood, there are a few links to places that have old movie scripts on line. I'm not going to spam your blog with the links (I think that's just rude, personally), so if you're interested, let me know. :)