1. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Script vs. Prose

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sanco, Apr 12, 2013.

    Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Bit of background: I've recently gotten into novels. I read when I was younger, but was never an avid reader. I'm also in my last semester at film school and deciding that I'd like to write novels instead of making films, I've started writing one. However, I feel like I may be bringing in some habits I've learnt from screenwriting and feel I have to unlearn all that in order for me to write prose. I've literally spent the past two years writing exclusively in script format.

    I remember my first writing class where our lecturer told us to write a description of the room we were in, in 30 seconds. Afterwards, we all had to read our long-winded and poetic descriptions out loud. He then proceeded to write on the whiteboard: INT. LECTURE ROOM - DAY. I guess what I'm asking is, what are some of the differences I need to know about, aside from the obvious ones. For example, subtext in a script will be apparent through dialogue and how the director pulls it out of an actor's performance. I'm just a bit blank about how I should convey something like that when writing in prose narrative.

    Discussion and advice will be greatly appreciated. It may be a stupid question, so forgive my ignorance.
     
  2. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You write a script for investors and crew. You write a novel for an audience. Basically, add everything the cast and crew will add. Descriptions, body language, inflections on tone, set design, mood. Then, depending on the style, add thoughts, history, narration, etc. Work on your dialogue tags, and bingo. A book.
     
  3. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the advice. What about exposition and the old "show don't tell"? Is exposition generally more acceptable in novels?
     
  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    That depends. It all boils down to the writer's style. Many scripts have plenty of exposition, while many don't. Same with novels.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't like writing in script form because it denies me the use of language. A script is not a finished piece of art. It is only the framework of a film. Movie fans don't read the script; they watch the movie. There's a ton of stuff that goes into a movie that is not in the script - acting, cinematography, production design, set decoration, music, etc. etc. etc.

    I think the main difference you need to keep in mind is that a novel is the finished work of art, not just the story framework. A novel has to contain not only the script, but also the direction, cinematography, music, etc., as well as (hopefully) some philosophical heft, and it has to do all of that through language. In a film, you can create a mood with lighting and music, but in a novel, you have to do it with language. In a film, you can shoot an entire army-vs-army battle scene with barely any dialogue, just direction, effects, and editing, but in a novel you have to do it with language. The medium of film provides the director with a huge arsenal of tools with which to manipulate the emotions of the audience. The medium of fiction offers the writer only two: language, and the imagination of the reader.

    That's all general stuff, but it should be kept in mind.

    The responsibilities of the writer of fiction are huge. He has to do everything himself, with language, and what he can't do directly with language, he has to tease out of the reader's imagination. And the only tool he has to do that is language. That's a lot of responsibility, but it's also a huge amount of power.

    I'd much rather be a writer than a filmmaker.
     
  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I always make my scripts enjoyable to read. After all, it pays to entertain the money peoples.
     
  7. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Read a few novels a week.
    You can get them on CD or MP3 audio if you want--just make sure they are not abridged.

    There is no way around it. Read read read. You are way behind the curve on this.
     
  8. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    Listening to CD's or MP3's will be only of some benefit for anyone wanting to write because 'listening' to books will not help with punctuation, the narrator does not say: comma, full stop/period etc. as they read. Really there's only one thing for it, to READ printed/virtual text.
     
  9. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Right. That's probably the reason why I'm leaning more towards being a writer rather than making films. Films are hard to get made. Novels are hard to get published.

    Also, Nee, I realised how far behind I am when I picked up Dr. Jekyll and Hyde and couldn't get past the first page without referring to a dictionary about 5 times. But I do think I'm a relatively quick-learner.

    Thanks for the feedback guys. What I'm getting is everything that I'd want a finished film to be as the director, is what I should write into my novel as the author.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, you need to start by reading well-written novels... contemporary ones, not rls... that will answer all of your questions about the differences and what you need to put into your novels...

    i mentor both aspiring screenwriters and novelists, so if you want a helping/supporting hand along your learning path, i'm always just a mouse click away...

    what film school are you attending?

    love and hugs, maia
     
  11. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the heads up, maia. Do you have any that you would recommend? I don't have too many friends who read unfortunately.

    I attend the International Film School Sydney. Relatively younger and smaller, but makes up for it in spirit, I say.
     
  12. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    And there's the point I was making: by adding CD's and MP3 audio to what you are reading as well, you can triple the number of novels you consume. After all, your eyes get tired but you can listen while doing other things: washing the car, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, walking the dog...you just can't listen while you are using your language part of your brain. Which means you should listen and drive your car at the same time.

    I was fairly proud of reading between 35 to 50 novels a year, 'til I started listening to audio books as well. Now, I consume over 120. Besides, it allows you to take more chances with what kind of novels you'll consider. It is much less of an investment of your time and energy--and if you don't like the way that writer is writing...so what, it's on to the next one. Every library has audio books and e-books these days, so why not take advantage?

    And as for cazann34's concerns that listening wont help with punctuation. Well, no it wont. But then, I wasn't suggesting that everyone should stop reading, nor was I thinking that you were inept at the general rules of grammar; seeing how you had already said that you were writing screenplays.
     
  13. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Hmmmm... Perhaps an example is in order?

    Here is part of the script for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

    Now the same scene in the book:

    A script is about 2% of the content that is in a novel. So much more!

    ~ J. J.
     
  14. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    ^ Great example.

    I know what you're saying about the audio books as well. I drive probably 3 hours in total on a weekday, so it'd be good to just put a CD on every time I hopped in the car.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since you want to transition from script to novel, i'd suggest you start by reading the works of authors whose writing is so visual that their books have made it to the screen successfully, so you may eventually have the joy of succeeding in both mediums... such as your own nevil shute... and:

    margaret atwood
    nelson demille
    e. annie proulx
    thomas harris
    cormac mccarthy
    harper lee
    dashiell hammett
    stieg larsson
    graham greene

    ...just for starters...

    hugs, m
     

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