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Saturday, 23 April 2011

Novel writing vs scriptwriting

Before you even embark on writing anything for publication or production, there is a plethora of publications to plough through and distract you from actually writing.

I can spend hours dipping in and out of books with tantalising titles that promise to deliver the world if you follow the rules, principles, pathways or patterns of narrative. I have however, found that great storytellers are just that, great... they carry a natural in-built sat-nav that steers their story in the correct direction; that is of course, if they only allow themselves to get on and actually write. If not, it is a bit like an untrained athlete, reward will be evasive and you can blame it on a whole load of subjugated junk, but the reality probably boils down to the basic fact that in trying to learn to master the art, you forgot to write...

There are schools of thought that say you can make any story fit any form and I guess in the bigger picture there is more than a kernel of truth in this, but there are some stories that just lend themselves more naturally to one form or another. Even though I am trained in and practice screenwriting, there are certain narratives that I just 'feel' are more suited to prose on the page. This might be the starting point but that doesn't mean to say that it will be the finishing point. I have one story that swings like a pendulum between novel > film > < film < novel; I have a love > hate relationship with it and my latest solution is it needs to be written in portmanteau style, which as a novel is absolutely fine, but as a film creates different challenges to overcome and master.

I have a fragmented mind, which probably means I'm mad or have some undiagnosed syndrome and I'm sharing this potentially with the open world who might mock or scorn me and confirm I am clearly mad, but I feel naturally more suited to fragmented thought. I like to think it is because I should have been a genius scientist or I am so intelligent that my thoughts exceed my brain capacity... actually I fear it means I do have some undiagnosed syndrome, I am ditsy and dizzy and I don't have the intellect to continue with, or carry one single thought stream without encountering interruptions from the voices in my head...

What I genuinely do believe is that any writer should not limit themselves to one form or another; for me it would be like saying a runner should only practice running and not focus on developing muscle strength, stretching exercises, developing stamina, meditating or keeping a peripheral eye on the competition.

Changing your usual form can only be healthy, add to mini-mind gym, stretch your writing thought process, help you to rip the poetry up from the hidden depths within before returning to your preferred form.

Then before you feel ready to give birth and let go, invest some time to hear it from the professionals. There is a great literary agent in the states called Janet Reid, who runs an excellent blog and actually give hints and advice around submitting your work to agents... she actually invests in writers with the most valuable commodity... her time, for free, for anyone who is serious about writing. What she blogs about is not only taken from the agents' viewpoint, but is also filled with a body of constructive discussion. Check out her blog, you won't regret it.

Right, I'm off to smell the freshly mown grass, drink in the sunshine and write my adaptation in the garden today and maybe a piece or two to read at the reunion in Padstow which is looming.

Happy Days...

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