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How Writing A Screenplay Is Different Than Writing A Novel

By Expert Author: Roger Jenkins

Many novelists would like to give writing a movie screenplay at least once. Some may want have a story that they'd very much like to tell. Some want to be the one that transforms their work into a movie. Some just want to see if they can do it or not. These writers may very well be successful; there are some similarities between novel and screenplay writing. However, there are also many differences between the two that must be overcome.
A person who has already authored a novel is probably more likely to finish a screenplay than someone who hasn't simply because he or she has already shown discipline and commitment to writing. Both of which are necessary to complete a movie screenplay. However, every form of storytelling has its own limitations, and all forms of writing require a different skill set and techniques. An excellent novelist may be a poor screenplay writer and vice-versa.
One major way in which novels differ from movies is that novels typically go in depth into the interior workings of a character's mind. You typically know what is going on the head of a novel's character, often explicitly so. You figure out who the character of a novel really is by seeing him or her intimately. A character in a novel is essentially "an open book." This is not the case in film at all. In a movie, there is very little, if any internal monologue shown. This is done for both time constraints and because it adapts poorly to the screen. The only way that we get to know who a movie character truly is through their actions. You can accurately depict what someone does in a movie, but it is very difficult to depict what they think.
Another difference is in between a novel and a screenplay is in the descriptions. In novels, a great deal of description is given to many things such as scenery, a photograph on the wall, or a character's hairstyle. This is not the case with screenplays. Screenplays do typically describe certain important things, but far fewer things are described and they are described is less detail. This is because description is necessary to set the mood in a novel, but not in a movie. For example, you don't have to describe what a sunset looks like in a movie, you can see it right before your eyes.


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