Tuesday, 19 April 2016

What I've Learned About Being A Screenwriter And... Playwright?

Lind mentioned about our summer studies in last post and I decided to 
write a short post where I explain little bit what I've learned about differences between
"screenwriting" and "playwriting".
That is a "pokespot"

As Lind mentioned we've been super busy this month. 
It surprises me greatly how our school has decided to put so much
"less important" courses which demand such tremendous amount of work to first year.
It just boggles my mind but hey, we have almost made it! Just a few assignments more!
It feels so good to write something light hearted for a change, instead of essays, analysis and reports.
I haven't really done one of these for a while.

Shortly about my project. It's genre is horror thriller which I consider one of my favourite genres.
I have enjoyed my script writing work all though 
I am not completely satisfied with my latest draft. It feels like it's missing something. 
Maybe it's because this is my first full length step outline and it's hard for me to see the full structure within. To me short film's structure is so much easier to perceive.

Fun fact about short films: short film is completely it's own art form. 
It's not supposed to be prologue or part of full length film and it's not something
you "start out with" when you start writing movies. 

Along all with these "boring must be done" courses I've had a dramaturgy course, which is all about writing theater plays. That has been really interesting and enlightening. Mainly how much it differs from screenwriting from the format to creative process. 
Course has shown me that the creative part of play is really intense. It embraces the emotions in such deep private level and shares them with everyone. 
I am with theater students so playing with emotions is big deal when it comes to acting and 
writing a real theater play. It was hard to grasp at first but
 I've really enjoyed it, it's sort of like therapy in a way.
In movies you focus to move emotions with instructions and story is read along the lines. 
It's really hard to explain but I give you one example later on.

Also the technical aspect; the format which is used to write these two is completely different,
all though as art forms they share quite close history.
Movie format is a lot more strict and focuses delivering the instructions to crew as telling 
the story at the same time. Movie format takes some time to learn because of it's rules.
In plays the point is dialogue. The action is inessential and instructions are often very rough. 
It's more than anything director's job to decide how the action is performed on stage.
The actual format has fewer "must contain" rules but the main focus  needs to be on spoken word 
aka in dialogue/monologue/soliloquy.
Terms shortly:
Dialogue: Two speakers aka two actors talking to each other. 
Monologue: One actor talking to something or someone 
(can be object, silent other actor, even audience).
Soliloquy: Actor is telling what character thinks out loud.

In movie you could write something like: 
TROLL picks up the knife. Troll's eyes fixate on HERO'S eyes. Stab. Hero dodges. Hero kicks the chair. Chair lands on Troll's feet. Troll yells and drops the knife. Knife hits the table head first making a humming noise. Hero takes the knife. Knife glows in Hero's hands. It's a magic knife.

In play you would write same scene:
I kill you with your own knife! Prepare to die!
Fight happens, Hero wins
Agh! I'm beaten! Curse upon that worthless blade!
The magic doesn't work in your hands, pest.

Just a fast, quite subpar example but you get the gist of it. 
Play needs dialogue to tell story because it can't depend on many layers of technicality (camera, editing programs etc.) to make something to be understandable. In play dialogue needs to be really polished and main focus to bring out the story. Where in Movie you can (an is advised to) tell the story without dialogue and use it only when you can't deliver the information otherwise.

Hope, you enjoyed this little lesson about differences of plays and screenplays!
Let me know if you want more posts like these! ;)


  1. Nice, horror thrillers are one of my favs! I have some familiarity with plays from reading Shakespeare in school but, wowwwee, there are so many things to consider! Hope you're enjoying the learning process :) love the illustration too
    ♡ Dulce

    1. Glad you liked the post, Dulce! :) I'd really enjoy Shakespeare's plays. Their clever usage of dramatic structure is amazing! I really enjoy monologues especially! :D


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