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  1. #71
    Simon Says
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    Actually, no Gul, I'm not just talking about scripts.

    I'm much more experienced with screenwriting, but between consulting and doing development and some screenwriting gigs, I have been working on a novel. I took a number of creative prose writing classes in college along with the screenwriting classes. I also took a novel workshop with a very well respected novelist when I was in the early stages of writing my novel, precisely because I didn't want my screenwriting techniques, approach, etc. to hurt me as a novelist and I was surprised to discover how well my screenwriting knowledge and experience served me. There were far more similarities than I expected to find.

    I agree that screenplays and novels are different animals, but they are the same species. The basic elements of drama - conflict, theme, character development, climax, denoument etc. are the same for all types of dramatic writing - novel, script, play, short story, opera, narrative ballet.

    And the truth is that it is usually harder for novelists to transfer to screenplays than the other way around, because the novelist has so many more tools at her disposal and far fewer restrictions. It's harder for them to create when they suddenly find themselves handcuffed and forced to adhere to a strict structure. But I must say that my training with screenplay structure has really helped me when it comes to pacing my novel and building the story - even though there is clearly more story to build and a longer tale with more subplots to pace. There's virtually no difference when it comes to developing character, creating and building conflict, etc. I simply have more tools at my disposal to tell my story.

    The restrictions with screenplays mostly have to do with the length that the story can be (which is due to the consideration of what the film length should be) and the limitations of relying solely on dialogue and actions to explore character and the need to tell the story visually. When you cannot let the audience know what is going on in a character's head unless they say or do something, it can provide quite a challenge for someone used to relying on narration to let us know what a character is thinking or feeling.

    Plays are stories told primarily through dialogue. What a story is, is the same, it's the tools available to tell the story that are unique to the different mediums.

    Theme is theme is theme and it goes back to the Greeks and the tools available for exploring theme can be applied to screenplays or novels or plays or opera.

    Same goes for character development, conflict, stakes. etc.

    On this particualr site I tend to focus on those universals when providing feedback or offering my opinion. Queries are pretty much the same for publishing and film - although the logline for a film query is a much bigger deal.

    For me the lack of craft of aspiring writers in all mediums is a big problem and really sad. It's why I post here.



  2. #72
    Wonky
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    BL, you said, "The ice age is something entirely separate and distinct from global warming, yet scientists and non-scientists have argued about this for generations."

    Please watch the movie. You will see how all weather on earth is inter-related.

  3. #73
    Ce Ce
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    >>>I'm much more experienced with screenwriting, but between consulting and doing development and some screenwriting gigs, I have been working on a novel. I took a number of creative prose writing classes in college along with the screenwriting classes. I also took a novel workshop with a very well respected novelist when I was in the early stages of writing my novel<<<

    Okay. Well, I've written and published more than fifty novels in a number of genres, and am considered rather successful at what I do.

    I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've sat down with either a complete plot or a theme in my mind when I began writing. And yet the plot is there, and a theme eventually emerges and/or gets my attention.

    For me, it's all an organic process, and always has been.

    No right or wrong, just what works for each of us.

  4. #74
    Simon Says
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    Ce Ce

    Ironically it's an organic process for me as well. But I've worked with close to two hundred writers - from total novices to successful screenwriters, novelists and memoirists - and it's is crystal clear to me that it's not an organic process for many.

    And it's those who don't have an organic process that I'm concerned about. Because there are elements of craft that can help a writer develop theme - and if they believe it's organic they won't bother trying to develop the tools they will need to sucessfully develop their theme.

    And I have to say, that although theme has always been organic for me, I feel that I have become a better writer since I started being cognizant of theme in the early stages of developing my story and characters. Doing so has also lead to less rewriting later on - but that's just me and I'm not trying to foist my process on anyone.

  5. #75
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    Theme is one of the elements of fiction like plot, character, setting, and style.

    Anyone who thinks it's right to ignore any one of those is missing the boat, as far as I'm concerned.

    Is there any really good book which has stood the test of time, or one that we think will, which does not do a bang up job on al of the above.

    Theme grows out of plot, and the stories that grab us are the ones that have a good, solid theme that resonates powerfully with us.

    To say that we should ignore theme because some writers do a ham-fisted job with it is like saying that we should ignore plot because some writers aren't particularly good at constructing them.

    God!

    The same can be said of symbolism. Some writers smack us over the head with symbols, which make us want to smack them back, but does that mean that we should ditch the concept?

    Hardly!

    We resonate to symbols. Life is full of them. You can hardly swing a dead cat without hitting one. They are there whether you intend them or not. So are you going to let them exist haphazardly or try to control them a little?

    So if you're going to turn your writer's back on things like theme and symbolism, why stop there? There's also plot, character, setting...

    Someone was wondering what the plural of "thesis" is. It's "theses". Don't try to find a Latin plural for a Greek word. :-)

  6. #76
    Anthony Ravenscroft
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    Like "forums."

  7. #77
    Mark Phillips
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    By the way BL I'm not getting down on myself because I don't think my first novel will sell. I wrote it when I was eighteen and have written eleven others since then. The first five were decent efforts, but nothing I'm horribly proud of. I think six through twelve are publishable, but I've only just begun to try and get published. The first books were great learning experiences, and they have their own scruffy little charm, but they just aren't fit for the outside world.

  8. #78
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: To Theme or not to Theme

    Like "forums."

    There you'd be okay because it is a Latin word, so "fora" is okay.

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