Why Screenwriters Make Great Novelists and Vice Versa

Thursday 14 March 2019

Are you wondering whether or not you should write a novel? 

Perhaps you’re a novelist interested in screenwriting but the two mediums seem way too different. Writers should stick to what they know, right?

Absolutely not.

 Writers should expand their skill set and write across all storytelling mediums. 

I’m a children’s author and novelist. Four of my short stories have been published and I dabble in screenwriting. I write articles and blogs, create trailers and design promotional material. 

When screenwriters say they can’t write a novel because it’s way too many words, I totally understand that, it’s not easy BUT they should definitely try. 

Same with novelists who say they can’t be a screenwriter because they wouldn’t know where to start. I always point them in the direction of Into the Script and Bang2write. 

These writing sites share articles that cover everything you will ever need to know. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Join the groups, someone will help you. 

In order to be a master storyteller, I believe learning to write in different ways is vital. 

Screenwriting forces the writer into heavy editing. 

Strict page counts mean shorter descriptions in order to fit more in, but the words still have to make a big impact. There’s no room for overly descriptive text, that’s where the director and actors will fill in the blanks. 

I’m also a visual writer, and this is great for screenwriting but when writing prose, I have to project an image, an emotion and the atmosphere into the reader’s mind. 

Novelists often use an entire sentence to convey the same thing a screenwriter has conveyed using only one or two words. 

That’s what prose is about but many writers are overly descriptive when they don’t need to be and this is where screenwriting skills come in handy. 

Removing redundant words and tightening up sentences makes for a better novel. 

Screenwriters who also write novels and/or short stories have an advantage over those who don’t, in my opinion. 

Artists often try different mediums and writers should too. Understanding how to set a scene and using sight, sound, smell, touch to enhance the reader’s experience will transfer over to your script. 

Writing prose also helps with cutting back on blocks of dialogue. I’ve read scripts with pages and pages of dialogue and if that happens in a novel (sometimes it does) the reader immediately switches off. 

It’s no different for scripts. 

Writing prose will tighten up the dialogue and screenwriting will tighten up the descriptions. 

My new novel - Paper Dolls, released on 28th March - is my third novel and by far my best. I accredit this to writing broadly and practising different techniques. 

I hope this blog piece has given writers the courage to try something new. 

Happy writing everyone!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. You can find Emma on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook or lurking in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity.  www.emmapullar.com

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