Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Movies vs. Books

I love both movies and books no doubt. Fans of books, though, tend to get all riled up when the movie doesn't precisely follow the book. Although the difference between novel and screen writing is tremendous. Now that I've officially done both, I have a much better understanding as to why it's not easy to keep the film version married to the book. As a novel writer, I have a much greater canvas to paint. I can take my time (to a point, of course, lest we bore the reader) developing my story and characters. I'm not constrained necessarily by parameters of length. A feature film, though, cannot be more than 120 pages. Now that's not to say that some screenwriters can't write a mini-series or even a series. But if you're a new writer and you break from tradition you greatly increase your chances of being largely ignored by the Hollywood community that does stick to protocol. Even within that community, different studios have different requirements. I've heard (although not validated) that Warner Bros. only accepts scripts 90 pages in length while the traditional feature length is between 110 and 120 pages. When you have fewer pages to tell your story within that requires a different talent and skill. Also, if you're thinking about screen writing, remember, film is a visual medium. You have to show everything. And what you're showing has to be visually interesting. In a book, you have to describe everything; but I always caution writers of either medium not to get caught in the minutia. What does that mean? Whether describing a visual or a setting or even a person, don't spend more than a moment on the details. And if it's an unnecessary detail, don't even include it -- and especially don't include it if does absolutely nothing to drive the story. I could spend a whole other blog on writers who get stuck in the minutia, so maybe next time. In the meantime, keep writing.

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