Traveling from Fiction Writing to Film Writing

Fiction writing is the perfect way to learn screenwriting and making great movies. Fiction taught me the basics of story; screenwriting told me I could be amply rewarded for a story. More, I could develop my own dreams of characters and places with the moving image. And the moving image is so … so great that screenwriting is more than a challenge or a career in writing-it’s also a way of life. Some books propose it offers the hero to be the writer slaving away, working on the 5th draft. The best proposal is that you create heroes.

I say all that and I toy with novels and short stories more than everything. Yet fiction is the tool to be used when creating stories: it came before films. Stories were told, in a sense, with fiction far before moving images took hold of the world. But static images? Comics, which means static images in a sense, came together not as jokes or tales of super heroes fighting crime, but artists expressing themselves in different ways, often in ancient society, like via the Roman Trajan’s Column.

We all love great films; some love great fiction; some love great comics like Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” or the oddly brutal classics of Steve Niles, creator of “30 Days of Night.” Comic writing is a somewhat lower stepbrother to film writing, but they are similar in many ways. Images are used-we know that. But heroes and villains are often pronounced similarly as well.

Comics and films are in many ways interchangeable, which is proved by the fact so many super heroes like Batman and Iron Man get made into films, and also why so many movies or television shows are worked into comic series.

Look at fiction as a hero. For example, “The Lord of the Rings” has the perfect, small, dreaming hero named Frodo, who wants to take a ring to a dark place. Or you have the “Battlestar Galactica” series where heroes and villains are everywhere; some may look like heroes but their actually robots; or some robots may actually do good things. The addition of the Cylons added drama to the series, these robots who could think, not a huge concept to get, but an intriguing one when they start acting like people. Fiction is built on protagonists, sure, but the best fiction like the best films, develops more than just heroes-they develop a sense of the inner hero within us all.

There should be a call within you to tell more than one story. I equate this as “going north,” finding the time to write, finding the dream along the way. I see screenwriting as a light. Fiction can show you out of the darkness. Screenwriting can help you speak to it.

What I mean by the darkness and the light, two sides of a coin, is that fiction, for one, is often about the line between these two things. Real people live in gray worlds. So if you understand that in fiction, you should have no problem with screenwriting. A career in writing can be built by starting out with a simple short story and developing it into something bigger.

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