Screenwriting Tips That Help Novelists
I started my writing as a screenwriter, which may explain why my dialogue is so sharp in my novel Silver Skies: 1996 Version. Erik Bork does great job summarizing some Save the Cat! genres that I use in my own writing. My Silver Skies: 1996 Version uses Institutionalized (Franz Wilhelm), Buddy Love (Dor Ben Habakkuk) and Superhero (Brianna Wilhelm).
I really feel that starting off as a screenwriter really helps me be a better novelist. I try not to forget what I learned as a screenwriter when I write a novel. Screenwriting helps you to condense your writing and then in the rewrites you can add some flourishes as a novelist, creating the voice for the scene by expanding the descriptions, the dialogue (if the scene feels bare or the scene requires more dialogue), etc. The way I approach novel writing is I see the novel as a movie in my mind and it is my job as a novelist to put on the page what the reader would be seeing on the screen if they watched it as a movie.
Like if a character is hiding something when he speaks, I can use subtext in dialogue to create the impression he’s uncomfortable and then I could go into his thoughts if necessary to reveal his emotions, for instance. So while if a person was watching it as a movie, and the brilliant actor is hedging as he speaks, I can just use words to describe the hedging (show, don’t tell). If, for some reason, telling is better than showing, I must do so in a strong character voice that makes it seem like an extension of the character as I tell. I try to disguise my “telling” as a character’s thoughts. If doing so, makes it obvious the character is saying something he wouldn’t normally say, except to inform the reader of something, I’ll leave it out and let the reader infer what’s happening. Writers need to respect their readers and give them credit for being smart. It doesn’t all have to be spelled out in the narrative.