Random Rant Ahoy! (Or, Why I Don’t Write Scripts, Even Though I Love TV!)
Last month I received my results for my MA Creative Writing final project, and whilst most of the feedback was helpful, I found one suggestion interesting: That, given I clearly adore TV, my writing is very visual, and I don’t read widely, I should reflect on why I want to write fiction over scripts.
Now, as an avid TV fan, and a ‘non-reading’ writer (in that I read less than ten books a year and lots of fanfiction) I’d already considered scriptwriting. I even applied to a scriptwriting MA a few years ago. There are, however, reasons I chose fiction writing over scriptwriting:
I don’t find scriptwriting fun:
The format is rigid, and there are lots of rules on content. I don’t get to describe characters, or break readers hearts with meaningful prose, and I can’t add much detail or action. With all these restrictions I don’t think I can tell a good story in a script, and I find some rules hard to remember, understand, and follow. Scriptwriting, therefore, isn’t for me.
It’d be more work:
I can’t truly get to know my characters without writing large paragraphs of story about them. Even if I chose scriptwriting, I’d need to write my stories as fiction first to get my head around plot and character. So why not stop at fiction writing and avoid continuing on to something I don’t enjoy? Exactly.
I can’t publish a script:
As far as I know there’s no demand for published scripts. (I could be wrong, I’ve not researched scriptwriting in huge depth, but this is my impression, and I know I’d rather buy books than scripts). If I ever wanted to do anything with my projects I’d have to get good at networking to encourage companies to produce my stories. As an introvert who finds communication draining and sometimes struggles to understand people’s motivations, that’s not happening.
I’d have to cater to ‘trends’:
Lets face it, TV companies mostly produce ‘popular’ content, and they take very few risks to avoid ‘offending’ viewers as making TV is expensive. I’d have to consider the market and write something that appeals to current trends, which, mostly, isn’t content that appeals to me. I want to write cross genre M/M romances, without sparkly vampires or love triangles or all that other vomit inducing rubbish, so scriptwriting isn’t a good fit for my stories. Yet. Hopefully things change in future!
Self publishing fiction is the best fit for me, but more importantly, for my stories. If, after I’m published, Netflix approach me, I won’t say no though, as long as they promise not to change my characters!
Writing ‘Visually’ Doesn’t have to be Exclusive to Scriptwriting:
I consider my tutor calling my writing visual/cinematic a high compliment. I want to write stories similar to the TV shows I love, which appeal to fans of those shows. I’m a visual thinker too. I daydream characters and worlds, think in images, and although I sometimes have trouble translating the images in my head into words, I enjoy this style of writing and it makes sense for me to write that way too.
I shouldn’t have to give up on fiction writing because I don’t read widely:
But wait, writers need to read hundreds of books a year, right? Wrong, and I’ve got a whole other post planned about that particular piece of advice! In essence? Writers come from all backgrounds, and reading widely isn’t easy if you can’t afford a ton of books. TV is more accessible for some, and I believe consuming stories in other ways is valuable too, alongside good writing craft books/websites.
I’m not saying I don’t read at all: I do, I’m just very selective about what I read and struggle to break through the noise to find books that appeal to my somewhat eclectic tastes.
I know my tutor was probably trying to be helpful, in suggesting something I may not have considered, but I gave scriptwriting a hard pass three years ago. Even if my stories aren’t mainstream, and my writing style is vastly different from what people expect from fiction, I’ll stick to my guns and write my stories as novels 🙂
Thanks for Reading!
My tendency to watch TV over reading books was a point of contention with a number of tutors throughout my MA. In many ways I felt like the black sheep of the course, and as someone who loves TV/games I don’t think the course was well suited to me. I’m not sure any writing course would be!
Do you write scripts? Struggle with networking? Have you felt out of place on a writing course because you read less or watch lots of TV? Chat in the Comments!