Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Are you writing for the right medium?
There's plenty of ways to tell stories and plenty of markets for them – video games, television, theatre, comic books to name a few – and some of these markets are booming. So how do you know if you've got the right format? How can you be sure that the medium you've chosen is the best showcase for your story and your talents? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
How do you imagine your story?
Do you invent visually? As internal monologue? Via scenes or dialogue? Do you conjure punchy and complete vignettes or meandering plots? Do you imagine deep and wide worlds, or closed domestic dramas?
All stories can be told in all mediums – but if you create your stories in the ways above, you should also consider the following mediums respectively: film or comic, novel, stage or screen play, short stories, novel, novel or videogame, stage play.
Where do your writing strengths lie?
Are you struggling through a single POV novel yet your crit group keeps telling you your prose is atrocious? Are you writing a stage-play where your descriptive stage-directions run for pages but the dialogue comes like blood from a stone? If your dialogue scintillates while your prose is abominable, you really should think about writing scripts – likewise, a novelistic play can work but perhaps you should think about writing prose.
What format would suit the story?
You may have planned a deeply internal character driven novel but the story you can't help writing is a highly visual action-hero epic. Is a novel really the best medium for your superhero? Wouldn't he fit better in a comic or a film?
Is your writing restricted by the format?
Is your chosen medium holding your writing back? Is it getting in the way of your story? A good way of telling if you're writing in the right format is if your story and your writing are liberated by the medium you're working within. If it keeps getting in the way then maybe you should try something else.
Would your vision be better developed collaboratively?
A lot of writing is a foundation for the final product – film, stage, tv, comics or games for example. While the god-like control of the story in a novel appeals to some, other writers thrive on the more collaborative forms of writing - or enjoy seeing where an actor, director or artist can further take their work. They may be spurred to greater heights as a writer in consequence.
If you've spend years studying and learning a particular format the thought of trying something else can be daunting – but if it really is the right format for you and your story, the going will be easy. At the very least it's good to mix things up, it will make a change, and will certainly make you a better writer.