Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Screen vs. Print

I'm in a screenplay mood. A lot of things have combined to get me here. Firstly, when I went off books earlier in the year, I read a couple of screenplays that I had sitting around the house. (Here in Japan, they sell screenplays and their accompanying CDs as a tool for learning natural English. I bought them as a tool for teaching natural English, but have never used them.)

Then there's my attempt to read up on writing humour. Unfortunately, very few books have been written on writing humour for novels. There are a few on injecting humour into articles and speeches, but the grand majority are about performance comedy: stand-up, sketch and sitcom. Plus, I read the eternally raved-about SAVE THE CAT, (I'm not a big fan, but that's a story for another day) and that's technically a screen-writing book.

Top all of that off with the fact that I'm one of the few who spends as many hours in front of a screen as staring at words in print. I'm just as comfortable watching 60 episodes of an anime in a single weekend, as I am reading 4 novels. (And yes, both have happened.)

So, between reading screenplays and screenwriting books, and watching movies and Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls and anime, I got to thinking. There are some things that work so much better in one medium than another.

Gilmore Girls revolves around dialogue. It revolves around that dialogue being said insanely fast. That's something that just wouldn't come over well on the page. Also, think of superheros. Superheros always come in visual form. Before they were on tv, Batman, Spiderman and Superman were comincs - technically print, but also using pictures. I'm not sure how well any of them would do as a novel. The same thing for musicals. I read the novelization of DREAMGIRLS. I can't even think of a comment for it.

And there are certain stories that work better as books. Stories where there's a lot of introspection are difficult to put on screen. Either you have constant voiceovers (which I am not a fan of, and which kind of feel like cheating) or you lose half the depth of the story. Also stories where there's not a lot of action are hard on screen. The brother of the husband of the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Tokyo (whew!) is in the film industry.  He says there's nothing worst than filming a writer writing.

Having consumed 100+ books in 2012, and watched 6 seasons of Dawson's Creek and 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls in the past 2 months, the screen vs print considerations are very fresh in my mind, and I think this is something I'll be coming back to.

What about you, what are the important differences between screen and print? Do you prefer certain stories via certain media?

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