Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

August 23, 2013

Writing Novels As Screenplays

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 2:15 PM

I break a cardinal rule of writing.

As I have said many times in my interviews, I don’t read books from other authors which is to improve ones writing.

What I DO is watch tons of movies because I apply what I’ve learned watching movies to my novels – and as it turns out – studying HOW movies are written parallels how screenplays are written. Many of the rules for writing fiction are similar to writing a screenplay.

How so?

Let’s take Rule #1 writing fiction. SHOW don’t TELL.

Too many authors spin pages of narrative telling the reader what is happening instead of showing it through dialogue. Good examples are the later works of Crichton and Brown. In Crichton’s book ‘Prey’, he spends too much time explaining what nano-technology in long narratives instead of showing it through the dialogue of the characters. Compare Crichton’s explanation of nano-bots within his story and mine in CYBERKILL. Compare for yourself. Which story is in that matter is more fun to read. Dan Brown’s ‘The Symbol’ suffers from the same fate. One critic said he could have cut out 20% of the narrative or chapters and it wouldn’t hurt the story.

Screenplays do not have the luxury of long narratives – of telling. Screenplays depend almost entirely on dialogue showing the story.

Here’s another rule writing fiction. Rule #2. The reversal or the All-Is-Lost-Moment.

Watch a movies and as it moves along there is a point where either the story is working fine for the hero or heroine then BAM!! Everything goes to pot.  Another example of this is the All-Is-Lost-Moment where it looks like everything is lost. Then the hero resurrects himself.

This is important in a novel, too.

Rule #3. Pacing. A novel should start off by drawing the reader into it right away and give them a hint of mystery of what is to come.  I use the device of Prologue in my novels to do this.  This breaks another cardinal rule. Editors and publishers claim they don’t like Prologues. I think they can be used to grab the reader’s attention before the actual story starts.

RULE #4. Multiple sub-plots that parallel the main plot. Not only does this make for an entertaining read (how will the author tie this back into the main plot?) but also helps in the pacing of the story. The secret here is to eventually tie them all together within the story or by it’s end.

Pick up one of my books and you will see how I’ve used these rules of screenwriting to write my novels.

 

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