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  1. HellOnEarth
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    HellOnEarth Banned

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    What's the difference between Screen-writing and Novel-writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by HellOnEarth, Jan 25, 2007.

    Is there a difference?

    And which takes more skill or talent?
     
  2. Mike R
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    Mike R New Member

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    Similar talent, different skills, I think.

    I've written plays whch would be similar to a screenplay. The difference is the action and scene are described for the actors and techies in a play, so not much flowery prose is involved. Another thing about plays is dialog, lots and lots of dialog. And internals have to be conveyed by the actors so if there is something in particular you're going for, you need to describe it for the actor, not the reader.

    Both need a talent for visualising a story and gobs of imagination. Both require, at least with character driven peices, an understanding of the human condition. And both require th guts to put it out there.

    Mike
     
  3. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    I agree with Mike's statement. I would add that screenwriters have to be able to pack lots of story into a lot less than a novel.
     
  4. Max Vantage
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    A screenplay is a story designed specifically for the screen. This means that, unilke prose, you simply cannot announce a person's thoughts or feelings as you can't actually "see" those things because they exist only inside a person. Rather, they have to be acted out in physical manifestation (such as throwing something or an all-out brawl in order to see that a person is angry, etc).
    As a screenplay is a blueprint for a film and film being in present tense, so then it becomes a written and unbreakable rule that you can't write the text in past or future tense. Flashbacks, non-linear structures, etc are all okay but they are played out on the screen in present motion as is always the case.

    In prose you can, however, write a person's thoughts and feelings and set it in any tense you like.

    The question as to which one takes more skill is pretty much a redundant one because it all depends on which style a writer prefers and different writers have differing talents and skill, so therefore a prose writer cannot be compared with a screenwriter.

    But I do know from experience and from my point of view that screenwriting is tougher because you can't get away with a lot of things that you can in prose. Length being one of them. As is pretty much the standard rule, you have to keep a screenplay within 120 pages or less. The format of a screenplay page is set out specifically the way it is in order to calculate the time it takes for the content to play out properly on the screen i.e one page of a screenplay is almost equal to a minute of screentime. So that means (if you're familiar with very basic maths) 120 pages = 120 minutes/2 hours.

    The pros and cons.
    The most obvious being that, with a book, the reader can simply come back to it whenever they like so length is not really all that important (unless the cost of page count comes into play).
    But (most) films are first shown in cinemas before they are able to be owned on DVD. Most people do not have the tolerance to sit and concentrate for more than two hours (three max) on a film so 120 pages is the strict guideline. And seeing as films are very costly the longer the film is the more it costs to produce and the less showings they will have in the cinemas (obviously meaning that the less time a film is the more money can be made from repeated viewings).
    And if you can pack the same wallop of the content of a book within 120 pages of a script then my hat is off to you.

    Why?

    Because to be able to be good at screenwriting you have to know how to write with your back up against the wall and keep everything barebones. You have to literally strip all non-essentials out in a screenplay that you are free to keep in a book. And that is tough! And therefore a screenwriter needs to develop a high concentrated level of discipline to be able to write in this style.

    Personally, I'd like to see more screenwriters on this site. It's getting very lonely and discouraging in the scripts forum! lol

    And a recommendation:
    Anything that a person teaches about screenwriting (whether in real time or online VIA e-mail or forum PMs) then take it as a pinch of salt.
    Why?
    Because, realistically, the only people qualified enough to teach you anything about screenwriting are not those who have been writing them for years (they would be the second best) but those who have been acting for quite some time. The idea behind this is that even though screenwriting is about a film, film itself is a story about action (and I don't mean the genre). So logically, the best tutors are actors. Befriend them, they'll teach you so much that you won't from seminars. Their advice is better than any of those who profess to know a thing or two and have never acted before in their lives. The formatting can be learnt in as much as five minutes (or none if you own screenwriting formatting software).

    I tried acting but I can't act for shit! lol It doesn't matter though just as long as you get the knowledge. Just beware if you do befriend actors: they're all primadonnas...professional or amateur. Beware!
     
  5. HellOnEarth
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    Nah, you're wrong.

    Screenwriters cannot write novels, whereas novelist can screenwrite.

    It's simple.
     
  6. HellOnEarth
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    HellOnEarth Banned

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    Give me one screenwriter who became a successful novelist.

    There is none.
     
  7. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    Many, although I cannot give you a name. A lot of them moved to writing books because they were not only fed up with the internal politics of hollywood but that they would no longer accept the way in which they were treated and left.

    Some went to books whereas other went to the stage.
     
  8. HellOnEarth
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    And were they successful? Did they make as much money as J.K. Rowling and Stephen King?
     
  9. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    Does it matter what they earned? To most, no, it didn't. They didn't see their level of success according to how many zeros were in their bank account. A lot of them considered themselves artists and hungered for more creative freedom that they couldn't find in hollywood.

    Keep in mind the possibility of lawsuits being made if these writers named names which is a reason why I couldn't find out exactly who the writers were and which studios they came to loggerheads with so I can't pinpoint whether they were "big" or "successful".

    I think if you write a screenplay in hollywood and it has been developed into a film, then consider yourself a success.
    Many scripts just end up in the bin.
     
  10. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Also, you don't have to be a Stephen King or a JKR to be successful. If you make enough to make a living, that's success.
     
  11. HellOnEarth
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    HellOnEarth Banned

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    All I'm saying is that writing a novel takes more skill, determination, and patience than a script.

    Script is only dialouge. The scenes, and the angle of the shots, are determined by the director, photographer, and story-board artist, not the scriptwriter himself.
     
  12. Max Vantage
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    You've obviously never have written a screenplay...or at least the right way! It's just as hard if not more because, like I mentioned previously, you simply can't get away with so much that you can in prose; that being able to write emotions or thoughts to convey information to the reader. And that is VERY convenient!

    No. You're getting a screenplay mixed up with a stageplay.
    A screenplay is a story told predominantly with images. Don't forget that equipment to record sound came well after cameras were invented, so earlier films relied on physical actions and a minimum of words illustrated on screen to convey any information necessary that couldn't be given by physical action alone.
    When the technology to record sound was invented the evolution of film skyrocketed thereby also evolving the dynamics of screen storytelling by using sounds to help push the story.
    But even today expert filmmakers will tell you that action is predominant whereas sound is subsidiary.
    Dialogue is something that should support the action of film whereas actions should take the main stage ('scuse the pun!).
    This is why when you look at a screenplay you should see more white(page) than black(text).

    If your character is speaking dialogue where action should be there then you are doing something wrong.
    In prose, you can write pages after pages of, say for example, description of a wife's anxiety when her husband is announcing that he's leaving.

    And seeing as you can't mould emotions into physical action all that would suffice in a screenplay is showing her hand gently resting on her husband's hand while a tear rolls down her face.
    Y'see there - no words, no thoughts, no emotions.
    But the very simplistic actions tell you everything about what she may be feeling and thinking!

    Screenwriting is that simple it's difficult and almost next to impossible to pull off properly!

    Action should be acted.


    A stageplay has a minimum amount of set (background) resources so the story played out on the stage is predominantly dialogue-driven.


    Bingo!

    My, my, we have a winner!
    Yup, this is but a few elements that are called 'pre-production'.
    Only in special circumstances can a writer get away with writing camera angles and they are allowed to do so in special circumstances where a noted camera angle is used to convey an important feature or purpose for the vision of the scene itself.
    But even this comes highly unrecommended. Simply put: don't do it!
    Screenwriting is not about writing screen shots or camera angles, but it is about scenes (although I think you meant to say scenery which is what the screenwriter is supposed to do.
    Such as describing the scene not in liberal detail but specific detail. What comes to mind now is the script for Se7en. Awesome yet so simple.

    Only the best skilled screenwriters can write in such a way that he/she can influence the 'look' of the film or the individual scene but it's best left alone for the directors and cinematographers.
     
  13. HellOnEarth
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    HellOnEarth Banned

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    Okay, then.

    Let's do a test. You write a hundred paged novel, and I will write a hundred paged script.

    You would never be able to do it, let alone, finish it.
     
  14. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    What would be the purpose of this test?
     
  15. HellOnEarth
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    HellOnEarth Banned

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    Since you believe writing a novel is not hard at all compared to a script.
     
  16. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    There you go completely misinterpreting what I had previously posted.

    I stated, IN MY OPINION AND FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, that I thought screenwriting was tougher. That doesn't mean to imply that I think prose is easy.
    That has no reflection on other people.

    For you as an individual writer, you could disagree. That's okay because you have your preferences in terms of what you write.

    Trying to compare the skills of a prose writer to a screenwriter is like trying to compare the athletic talents of Michael Jordan and Michaal Johnson. And yet they are both in a different category of sport to one another. So it wouldn't make any sense in comparing them.

    I'm sure Michael Jordan can out-dunk Johnson anyday. But I'll also put my money on Johnson running the 100 metres quicker than Jordan. So where's the logic in putting those two in the same box?

    Write what you enjoy and what you are able to do.

    I've been writing screenplays since I was fourteen but I haven't been writing prose for that long. But whether anyone thinks I happen to be stronger in one category than the other, nothing will alter my sense of pleasure in writing both or my obsession with wanting to improve in them everyday or change my experienced point of view that I think screenwriting is tougher.

    Others will think it's easier.
    Hooray for them!

    (And don't forget that you asked what the differences were which I only highlighted. But your question as to which is harder is only subjective and in its very redundant nature only the individual can respond with an answer based on their individual experience and outlook on what works better for them.)
     
  17. Fantasy of You
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    They are both as equally hard, or as equally easy, as each other, depending on the amount of effort you put in, and on the result you wish to get from it.

    Max, I don't blame Hell for his assumptions. You certainly presented your argue in a wat that almost dismissed novel writing.

    Both should be as equally concise, and a wasted word is one is just as bad as a wasted word in the other.

    - FoY
     
  18. Damien
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    Damien New Member

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    The link at the bottom of my post will bring you to a site that posts screenplays for a lot of popular movies, from Ace Ventura to The Godfather to Pulp Fiction. You can see for yourself the difference between screenplays and novels and make up your own mind.


    As for talent, it's subjective, almost a rhetorical question to ask. It's like two people arguing over the existence of God. Both can provide convincing arguments, but neither can truly prove their own point or disprove the others.

    To each their own.

    http://www.iscriptdb.com/index.php?action=screenplay_browse&start=a&PHPSESSID=c5cad468314e74fa60d932b2cb1ae536
     
  19. blackcatpenmanship
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    Difficult choice

    Screen writting takes alot of talent in the fact that you have to think of thought provoking lines and ideas that will cross over into a live action situation. Writting a book you have the advantage of internal dialogue and you can have narration that usually works alot better in a book than in a play to help explain the story the setting and the actions. In a play you have to figure out logical ways of explaining what a character is feeling without the advantage of discription you have to hope that whoever reads it can identify with the character and find the perfect actor to convey those lines with passion and convinction. Also you have to think alot more carefully in a screen play about the movement of the characters. Also with a book you can make it as rought and rich with detail and description as you want and its not as if anyone can just sit down and write a book thats not what I'm saying its just that its alot more of an independant act to write a novel than to write a screen play. Both take time and effort and both of them have their advantages and disadvantages but in the end I think its two completely opposite sides of the writing spectrum.
     
  20. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    I agree. Screenwriting takes great skill and talent, because you must explain everything in dialogue or vision, and still keep it moving fast enough for today's movie viewers. And you don't usually have the advantage of internal dialogue or an omniprescient narrator. That must be a fantastic challenge.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    Is there a difference?

    ...definitely!... there are major differences in both structure and format...

    And which takes more skill or talent?

    ...they both take talent and skill... neither takes more than the other... they are completely different crafts within the writing arts and to do either well takes just as much talent and skill as the other... just not exactly the same ones... it's silly to try to quantify those requisites...

    ...fyi, i have written both and tutor/teach/mentor aspiring writers of both... so i know whereof i speak... you might as well be asking if it takes more skill to climb a mountain, than to deep-sea dive...
     

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