Convergence: Screen Writing Techniques for Novelists

Just some reminders here for me, and then I’ll get on to this entry.

1. Double check Michael Underwood interview on reading.
2. Double check Writing Process interviews still out.
3. Send out new Writing Process interviews.
4. Write a general post about Convergence.
5. Write a post about The Rose of Versailles.


So, there I was at Convergence. This year, I participated on the Avengers Panel (Steed and Emma, not Thor and the gang), the fairy tale panel, and the Plot and Structure Panel.

I was on the plot and structure panel with Melinda Snodgrass (look! Eric!), Dana Baird, and Lou Anders. As a reformed pantser, I was a bit of an object of incredulity at the panel, but it turns out that since Melinda taught Walter the screen break, and I learned the screen break from Walter, I was like the grand child of Snodgrass.

Lou, editor of Pyr books, writer, screen writer, and it goes on and on, mentioned somewhere in our conversation that he was doing a panel the next day called Screen Writing for Novelists. I went along to that, and I’m kind of a convert now, because hey, even more structure, drama and conflict. That’s what it’s all about, baybee!

So, I’m not going to go into a graphic detail of the lecture here, because it requires pictures, and because you need to go see Lou do this thing. The closest you can get to actually attending on your own, however, is to read Dan Decker’s Anatomy of a Screenplay and Jeffrey Schechter’s My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, which you might want to read anyway, because the prose is pretty darned funny.

So, Lou (and these other guys) posits that you can tell a story with a protagonist, an antagonist, and a relationship character. There are other important benchmarks: 3 acts divided into 4 parts (act 2 has an A and a B) suggestions on when certain things should, the octagon of character types, and the reverse column. Both books go into great detail.

Now, please note that Decker and Schechter are talking about screenplays. Lou isn’t. Lou says that these techniques can be used to good effect also in the novel. Can they? Apparently others have. I’ve re-written my plan for first act, according to Schechter, and you know what? The story looks much more interesting now. We’ll see what you think.

I recommend that you check these books out. Lots of very, very useful stuff.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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