Screenwriting Has Made Me A Better Writer
by Gina Capristo-Gajdosik
1) Screenwriting is much like acting, only in your head and then onto the page. This taught me how to wrangle my own personal feelings into a highly creative story, and let’s face it a good story must have hidden truth within the dialogue. This is called “subtext” and unfortunately, many writers ignore it.
2) Screenwriting takes time, therefore it is a lesson in patience. Re-writing is where the real magic happens and the rewrite has helped shape my writing style and increased my vocabulary immensly.
3) Writing for the screen is about creating a sense of ACTION, so you must use the perfect action word, a point missing in amateur scripts, “John goes to the fridge”—no, John must “stroll,” “rush,” or “walk” to the fridge, since actors need to see in their mind’s eye and know what they will be doing in front of the camera.
4) Screenwriting helped me accept and work with professional notes, and also how to utilize this information in a timely and professional manner. A consultant can tell you exactly what’s not working within your script, scene or character, but it is your job to come up with the fixes.
5) I have been lifting my “Writer Weights” for years and I understand that revision is a necessity. Screenwriting has instilled in me a decipline for perfection, since an inherent component of screenwriting is revision, meaning many, many drafts.
6) I always include music, weather, tone, time and gestures in my writing style since this makes for better movies, and it has influenced my writing style in general.
7) Screenwriting has taught me to “turn a phrase,” and I believe this is what sets my writing apart. I’m not just writing action in a cold “blueprint” for a movie, but using a certain kind of prose to convey exact action and elicit emotion from my readers. This is the missing link that turns normal writing into great writing.
8) Screenwriting has taught me to keep it concise. Narrative writers everywhere, challenge yourself to read a few award-winning screenplays such as, “There Will Be Blood” or “American Beauty,” and even better, try writing a film script.