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How Playwriting and Screenwriting Can Make Your Fiction Better | Writing Video Wednesday

Hey everyone!

I’m in a class right now with The Writing Barn called Write. Support. Submit, and I did a craft presentation recently on the different qualities we can take from good screenwriting and playwriting to make our fiction better. I decided to talk about some of the things I was talking about in that here in a video.

Click here to watch the video.

Transcript from video:

Hey everyone! It’s author, Sara Crawford, here, and I’ve got a writing video for you today.

So today I’m going to talk about what fiction writers can learn from studying playwriting and screenwriting. So obviously there are really interesting and distinct qualities that make telling a story in film or theatre or in the novel different. Film is a very visual medium so you can tell a story through images and things that you see. Theatre is very much an oral kind of tradition so it’s more about things that you hear and the dialogue, I think, and telling a story in that way. And novels are very much internal. So you can be more reflective and show us the world through someone else’s eyes, really, but obviously, when you are writing fiction, two things that really make a good novel are good dialogue and really visual imagery.

If you study the art of screenwriting, you can really kind of focus in on creating images and writing more visually and then if you study playwriting, you can really focus on dialogue and making your dialogue as good as it can be.

A couple of exercises that you can do to kind of use these qualities in your fiction writing — The first thing you can do: if you feel stuck in a scene that you’re writing in your novel, why don’t you try writing it out like a screenplay? Now the main thing about a screenplay is that you can’t write anything that’s internal so you can only write the things that the viewer will see on the screen or hear. So sometimes writing it out this way can be a really good way to visually imagine what’s going on and get you thinking about the external things that your character is doing to maybe express how she feels or what’s going on in the story or the conflict.

Another thing that’s good to do to just get you thinking in a more visual way is to go online and read screenplays. There are websites where you can just read a screenplay of a movie. It’s a really good tool. I definitely recommend it. It’s also really interesting to pick a movie that you really love and that you know and that you’ve seen a million times and then read the screenplay and see how it kind of changed from the screenplay to the screen because that can happen.

Another good exercise that you can do for your dialogue is something that I did in a playwriting class. When we were focusing on making each character have a unique voice, we would look at the page, cover up the names of the characters and see if we could tell who was speaking based strictly on the lines that they were actually saying. So if everyone is kind of sounding the same, this is a really good way to pick up on that, and it’s a really good way to make your characters sound more distinct. Sometimes if you’re in a scene with a lot of dialogue and you really want to work on the dialogue in that scene, for example, just writing it out in play format might be a good exercise to get you thinking more about the dialogue and just crafting the dialogue.

Those are some of the ways that you can work on your fiction writing by looking at playwriting or screenwriting. Do you guys have experience with playwriting or screenwriting? I would love to hear about it. Let me know if you have used playwriting or screenwriting to help your fiction writing. I would love to hear about that as well. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel if you’d like to see more videos about writing, books, or music. Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you in the next video.