Filling in the gaps in the screenplay was the most daunting aspect for me personally in adapting the story into novel form. Yet, the more I persisted, the more rewarding and freeing it was as a writer to create a world with far more detail, history and impact than just a two sentence description at the beginning of a scene.
Writing Screenplays vs. Writing Novels – Part II
The description at the beginning of a scene in a screenplay can be as elaborate or as simple as you feel is required to relay the information in an effective way. Each writer has their own style and way of presenting their ideas. Even though screenplays will end up as movies, they are reading experiences first, so they need to be as well written as possible. If you are writing a script for a producer or an agent, you may approach the material differently than if you are writing the script for a project you plan on directing as well.
For me, I offer a pretty streamlined approach in my screenplays.
Subtext is a term used in acting that is the hidden meaning behind a moment in a story. Because of film’s collaborative nature the subtext is often not written clearly in the screenplay. The actor and director will often shape the subtle aspects that drive a character to say or do something.
Blocking is where the characters move within a scene/location. Since the final product of a film will depend on the location and the vision of the director, where a character moves is merely hinted at in a screenplay, unless it is a critical component (i.e., Norman, dressed in drag, rips open the shower curtain, knife in hand, and ferociously starts attacking the unsuspecting Marion).
Writing a novel approaches these subjects completely differently. (For the first entry on this subject, click HERE.) Since the novel writer is the actor and the director, the set designer and the costumer, they have to create the world fully to encompass the mood of their novel. The subtext and blocking of a scene are completely in the writers control and the thoughts behind the characters actions are not only stated, but explored in the pages of a book.
A simple example of these difference can be seen when comparing the Gabby Wells TV script with the Gabby Wells novel.
Gabby Wells Screenplay:
Next you can see the stark difference in one of the early drafts of the Gabby Wells Novel:
Since my writing history is primarily with screenplays and it is well within my comfort zone, I’ll continue to use it as a way to outline all future Gabby Wells novels. The bonus of this approach is that, if the books ever get adapted into TV or film projects, the first drafts of the screenplays will have already been written.