Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Impacting Fiction Writing with Script Writing Techniques

I have heard that authors can learn some great writing techniques through studying screenwriting. So I decided to act on this idea, and I'm away from home attending the Gideon Film Festival Conference. This unique conference has pulled together award-winning authors with multiple published books, movie producers, actors, screenwriters and more to open doors for the purpose of networking and learning.

Yesterday I attended the Art and Craft of Screenwriting, presented by Sarah Anne Simpolec. A part of the workshop on pre-writing activities included outlining, ten a fiction writing technique and a place where index cards can be useful. Sarah explained many techniques used for screenwriting but the section on outlining for screenwriting works extremely well for fiction writing.


1. Define the overall theme or meaning of your work. What will happen and why does it matter? Sarah made an excellent point about the why. If your story does not make a difference, if it doesn't matter, then why write it? How can it serve the reader?

2. Create individual character arcs. What does the character want? What does the character need? The need factor is often the hidden desire of the character. The difference between the want and the need are sometimes in conflict and an effective technique is to create a situation where to gain what the character needs means to give up what he wants. This is an excellent technique to create conflict.

3. Setting should be specific and used to deepen characterization and conflict, not just a place to plop characters. Setting influences the storyline because it influences the lifestyle of the characters, and it affects thier needs and wants or their ability to reach these goals.

4. Develop subplot arcs that affect the main plot. Weave these subplot arcs through the novel rather than dropping them into the story and then resolving them early. A subplot must make an impact on the main story and change it in a meaningful way by adding conflict.

5. Pacing needs to flow like a river with all its hidden dangers. Through outlining the author can visual pacing before writing the book. He can see the river's calm and the turbulence and then place these scenes in the most meaningful way to impact the story.

By considering these five points, an author can impact the power of story and create a book that grabs the reader and keeps him hanging on for the amazing ride.

This is only one small way in which screenwriting can enhance fiction writing so learning more about writing scripts can help you grow as a writer.


Carla Gade said...

Thanks, Gail. These were very helpful points.

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Hi Carla. Thanks. I thought it was great info too. The screenwriting classes and so many things I expereinced at Gideon Film Festival Conference was wonderful.


Rita Gerlach said...

Hi Gail,
Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing. Could you possibly post a sample outline for each of the phases?

Rita Gerlach

Homepage: http://ritagerlach.com/

Reviews: http://surrenderthewindromance.blogspot.com/

Inspire / The Musings of a Historical Fiction Writer: http://inspire-writer.blogspot.com/

Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers: http://steppingstonesforwriters.blogspot.com/

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Hi Rita - I'd be happy to do that. Right now I'm on a couple of proposal deadlines, but when I finish I'll be happy to give more details.