Nearly five years ago now, shortly after releasing my second novel, I started making the journey towards writing for both the stage and the screen. A Christmas gift of the word-processing program, Scrivener, jump-started my expansion into other creative writing mediums. Within that time, I have since written multiple stage plays, a few spec scripts, a few pilots, a few short films, and even a feature-length screenplay. Oh, I also upgraded to Final Draft earlier this year, because I felt that it was time to up the ante.
It’s only natural that within all this scriptwriting I have done that I’ve learned a few things along the way. Coming from a prose-driven background, scriptwriting really is a very different beast. The effort to make the dialogue sound as natural as possible is more pressing than ever, your scene instructions have to be general enough for the director to understand and also to expand, and you have to constantly remind yourself that you have to leave room for collaboration, for you are not the only storyteller in this equation. It’s been such an adjustment to make in this sector of my writing journey, but with a mix of ongoing experience, reading scripts that already exist for reference, as well taking lessons and advice from those more skilled at the craft, I feel like I’ve come a long way, with a longer way to go.
If anything, playwriting and screenwriting has helped me become a better writer overall. Writing for a visual medium really forces you to show rather than tell; a feat that, admittedly, has been a weak area for me. Putting myself in the position of deciding what comes out of an actor’s mouth and what will be revealed from the display of a prop or the movement of a camera angle has done wonders for my skill.
This especially comes to mind as I’m wrapping up reading through An Absolute Mind. While I’ve already emphasized before on parts that could have been better, what I can say about it overall in retrospect is that there’s too much telling and not enough showing. There’s too much compensating and over-explaining the actions in each scene when it was already obvious enough. I know I can do a better job on that if I were to write that book now. While I won’t discourage anyone from reading An Absolute Mind (when I still aim to do the contrary), what I will say is that I’ve come a long way since I wrote it.
With my future as an author still ever uncertain presently, when I do get back to returning to my roots with the world of prose, I’ll know now how to tackle it on a more visual level, as I continue my ongoing growth in the world of playwriting and screenwriting.
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