the old curiosity shop Top tips...
• The first ten pages – or 10% equivalent – are crucial in setting up the genre, location, protagonist and their issue. • Make it interesting to read – a bit of colour, wit or humour in descriptions can sometimes help the flow and keep a reader’s interest. • Use subtext – don’t be too literal, especially with dialogue. What are characters hiding? • Is it Maria or John who we need to be wary of ? We don’t know... yet. Always create tension and intrigue. • Get feedback, be it from peers or professional readers. Writing is rewriting. If you have any questions about screenwriting, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at writesofluid.com.
creenwriting can be an exciting and fascinating way of storytelling, allowing you to present your story in a dramatic way. Not only can you play around with different forms of narration and explore different characters’ points of view and events in a visually implicative way, you can also have fun with the type of media you are writing for, such as screen (TV or cinema?), animation, web series, graphic novels or live theatre performances. Join me as I discuss all things screenwriting, from how to do it to how to do it well, what happens next and everything in-between.
his issue’s theme is “transformation”, so I thought I’d talk a bit about adaptation; transforming your stories from one format to another. If you’re already a
short story or a novel-writer and my introduction to screenwriting whetted your appetite, you might like to consider the challenge of adapting one of your existing stories into a screenplay.
This doesn’t mean that you need to completely change your story – but it’s these sorts of things that you’ll need to keep in mind when choosing how to adapt it for the screen.
Adaptation can be a daunting task, and as an author of a piece of work you’re very proud of, you might find it difficult to change it. We’ve all been to the cinema to see an adaptation and been miffed to discover it’s different... “It wasn’t like that!”, we moan.
• What’s the most dramatically appealing part of your story? Whose story/what character? What problem? What’s in their way? Whose point of view?
Unfortunately, most stories that originate in prose just won’t be suitable for the screen if transcribed without due thought given to how the story works in screen format. The reasons why adaptations have subtle (or sometimes big) differences from their paper counterparts are because: • The story needs to fit into screenplay convention; structurally and contentwise. It may work better dramatically if told through a different style of narration or with a different structure. • The spine of the story – the most dramatic and appealing plot thread or view point – may be different to that which was intended in the original. • The protagonist may change – what was the mother’s story about the quest for justice may in fact be better told from the point of view of the murdered son’s brother. • Introducing the murderer as the antagonist could give another dimension to what may have originally been a novel solely from the mother’s point of view.
• Can your story be told in a more dramatic way? Does it rely too much on inner thoughts? What physically happens that could play out well on screen, or could more happen to represent the problem? • Are there characters or things that happen that are inert; characters who have no real role or scenes which aren’t necessarily needed? • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Add a new character? If the story’s simple, complicate it. If it’s already complicated, can it be simplified? What effect do you want to have on the viewer? How can you achieve this? Will the setting be more dramatic elsewhere? Remember: when reading a story we are inhibiting the character (unless told in third person with multiple protagonists). When watching a screenplay we are observing. Could your story reach a wider audience as a screenplay? Give it some thought. And above all, have fun!
• The setting may need to change for the screen – a story set in the past may better target a visual audience if made contemporary.
Michelle Goode is a script reader, editor and writer who operates from her little online empire; writesofluid.com, where she compiles writing resources, writes her blog and offers her services. When she’s not creating fictional worlds through scripts and prose or writing articles, she’s helping strengthen the work of others or assessing scripts for production companies, competitions and initiatives. It goes without saying that Michelle loves reading, watching TV and films, and likes nothing more than to snuggle up with her ginger tom cat Monty to do so. Follow her adventures on Facebook: facebook.com/michellegoodewriter and facebook.com/writesofluid, and on twitter: @Sofluid.
the pumpkin edition ~ 59
Published on Sep 30, 2012
What the Dickens? Magazine A bi-monthly magazine for all creative folk focusing on literature and the arts. Issue 6: The Pumpkin Edition. IN...