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licity-lieu
07-03-2007, 04:06 AM
This is what I've realised. When I write I'm seeing the characters, the scene, colours even lighting as if I'm looking through a camera lense. So maybe I should be writing screenplays!--or go back to painting; maybe take up photography:D

Does this habit limit ones writing? I read many times that readers are influenced by cinema and therefore expect certain conventions (ie. more show bla bla bla...) but what if the original images which play in a writer's mind are cinematic? Is this likely to affect the writing favourably? To give an example; Jeffery Eugenides' Middlesex does this in parts and for me it resonates.

So tell me, my fellow writing friends, tell me what's wrong (or right) with this approach. Am I just a lazy victim of the cinema age? Do people secretly do this? Am I asking a daft question?

reenkam
07-03-2007, 04:59 AM
I had a writing teacher tell me that if you see your book as a movie all the time then you shouldn't write a novel, you should write a screenplay.

I don't think she meant that you can't visualize what's going on as you write, but I think she was refering to trying to write cinematic things into novels...like a scene fading in from black or something like that.

But if that's what the book calls for, and if it works, I don't see why it'd be a problem. When I write it's like a little movie in my head, kind of...

TheIT
07-03-2007, 05:03 AM
I tend to think of scenes visually, too. What could be a limitation is engaging other senses. Cinema relies solely on sight and hearing, yet in reading it's recommended to bring in all five senses to draw the reader into the experience.

Plot Device
07-03-2007, 05:28 AM
If you want to make the leap to writing screenplays, be forewarned that the correct formatting for a screenplay is mercilesly scrutinized. The free-style of a novel is not the luxury of a screenwriter. The transition might prove quite a shock to you. But if your WIP is simply screaming at you to be made into a film rather than a novel, then by all means, go for it.

Try reading the novel Jaws by Peter Benchley, and then read the screenplay by Peter Benchley. (And somewhere in there, watch the movie by Stephen Spielberg.) The novel is indeed a true novel, full of interior thoughts and lots of interesting details in the narrative about life living on an island. The screenplay is a super-streamlined microcosm of what was in the novel with not one interior thought in sight. All just visuals and biting dialogue, amazing camera work and one of the best musical scores of the century.

Chasing the Horizon
07-03-2007, 05:36 AM
I see my stories exactly like movies in my head too. In my experience this has both advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:
1. Showing rather than telling comes naturally.
2. My description and stage action is very vivid and clear. My betas say they have no trouble seeing everything that's happening when they read.
3. The dialogue is both snappy and natural sounding, and paces well within the scenes.

Disadvantages:
1. I always forget to involve senses beyond sight, hearing, and touch (why I remember touch I really don't know)
2. There's minimal internal narrative and thoughts from the POV character.
3. It's exceedingly difficult for me to remain in one point of view for an entire scene.

To me, the cinematic effect is simply a style, not automatically a positive or a negative. Since this style lends itself to visually involving situations it probably would work much better in a thriller or action fantasy than in a romance or literary introspective piece. I write in a shallower point of view and this is not effective in stories where the main conflict is internal. But I write pretty battles :D

My beta readers have told me that reading my work is like watching a movie, and this is because of the detailed action descriptions and low amount of internal thoughts. I'm perfectly fine with this because my preference in reading is for visually engaging styles. Internal monologues that go on for longer than a short paragraph bore me to no end, so, of course, I don't write them either. I've heard over and over that one should write what one would want to read because others are bound to share the same tastes and want to read it as well, so that's what I do.

I love adapting video techniques to the page. Using words to create the effect of slow motion or an overhead shot is a fun challenge. Sometimes these techniques work beautifully, other times they don't, but that's why computers have delete buttons.

Anyway, you're certainly not the only writer who sees their stories as movies. This is simply one way of writing, and I don't think it's really better or worse than any other. Like everything, it's a matter of taste and execution.

Plot Device
07-03-2007, 05:38 AM
Another thing.

A novel is a completed work, perfectly capable of standing on its own. But a screenplay is not at all to be considered a finished product--the FILM is really the finished product. So instead of comparing it to a novel, it is instead advisable to see a screenplay as being more akin to the blueprint for a building. The finished product is the building and the blueprint is merely the planned suggestion for how the building should look. Once the architect is done drawing up the plans, he has to hand over his beauitful documents --that he so lovingly slaved over-- to the contractor, who may or may not change EVERYTHING to his liking. So, in novel writing, the writer (comparatively speaking) has a great deal of control over the finished product, while in screenwriting, the writer is often very low on the totem pole (see my signature).

Back in the 1940's, screenwriters were called "schmucks with Underwoods." Today, they are called "schmucks with laptops."

CoriSCapnSkip
07-03-2007, 01:38 PM
This isn't a problem for me EXCEPT when it comes to the main character. I can see the viewpoint character as if I'm watching him AND know what's going on in his head--but the viewpoint character can't see himself like that, and if I show how he looks or acts through any other means than another character's comments--which only works as long as they're comments someone would really make in that situation--I'm going out of viewpoint. This is a REAL issue! :e2shrug:

lkp
07-03-2007, 05:54 PM
I think there's a difference between seeing scenes visually and seeing scenes like a movie that is often elided in these discussions. I'm curious to know if I'm right. I do see scenes visually before I write them, but it is very different from the way I'd see a movie. When I see a scene in my head before I write it, I am nowhere and everywhere in the scene, and I can imagine all senses available to my characters. My viewpoint can shift without following the laws of physics, and the scene takes place all around me. I think of seeing a movie as a very different experience. At a movie, I am very much utside the scene, looking in. There is a clear distinction between me as the viewer and the scene taking place, which is not the case when I visualize scenes while I am writing. My way of writing would *not* translate easily into a screenplay.

JamieFord
07-03-2007, 06:23 PM
I try not to see "scenes" in a cinematic way--from the outside in. I think it's more powerful to see scenes through the POV of your main character in that scene--from the inside out. Or at least a close narrator. Starting wide and drilling in works great on film, but seems to lessen the impact in print.

JanDarby
07-03-2007, 07:08 PM
Different writers experience/construct scenes differently. I "hear" them, rather than seeing them, so for me, the dialogue comes first, along with some of the internal stuff, and then I fill in the description afterwards during revisions.

The trick is to acknowledge and accept your process, whatever it is, and also acknowledge that some aspects of writing will be relatively easy and others will be harder. That just means we need to work more on the harder parts, which for me is the description. For someone who "sees" scenes, the description may be the relatively easy part, and that writer will need to work more on weaving in the internal aspects (thoughts, feelings, anything that's not visual) during revisions if not in the first draft(s).

JD

Jamesaritchie
07-03-2007, 08:28 PM
I think seeing the writing as if a movie were playing is extremely common, just as I think most readers see the finished product like a movie as they read it. Reading/Writing. No difference. I don't think I'd want to read a book where the writer didn't watch it play out like a movie during the writing.

Claudia Gray
07-03-2007, 08:28 PM
Thinking cinematically can add a lot of punch to your work and create some beautiful, vivid images, but it's just as important to step back from that at times and live/breathe/feel as your character would feel.

The times when "cinematic writing" works best, IMHO, are action scenes -- the better you can "see" it, the more coherently you'll write it.

jodiodi
07-03-2007, 09:31 PM
I think there's a difference between seeing scenes visually and seeing scenes like a movie that is often elided in these discussions. I'm curious to know if I'm right. I do see scenes visually before I write them, but it is very different from the way I'd see a movie. When I see a scene in my head before I write it, I am nowhere and everywhere in the scene, and I can imagine all senses available to my characters. My viewpoint can shift without following the laws of physics, and the scene takes place all around me. I think of seeing a movie as a very different experience. At a movie, I am very much utside the scene, looking in. There is a clear distinction between me as the viewer and the scene taking place, which is not the case when I visualize scenes while I am writing. My way of writing would *not* translate easily into a screenplay.

This is pretty much the same way I 'see' scenes when I write. All of my senses are engaged as well as my sixth sense in that I know all of my characters' thoughts.

maestrowork
07-03-2007, 10:00 PM
Writing "cinematically" is good -- it takes the readers into the story and keeps them there, lets them experience the visuals, sounds, etc.

But there are differences between movies and books. With books, you have to describe the settings, the sounds, smells, sights, etc. because there's no movie sets or props to look at. Also, you don't have actors to emote and act out their inner thoughts, so you have to be more specific in the book. But there's so much we can learn by writing cinematically: structures, pacing, dialogue, setting, action, show vs. tell, etc.

I personally enjoy writing cinematically, and I love movies and I want my books to read like the readers are inside the movies.

Dave.C.Robinson
07-03-2007, 10:23 PM
I visualize my work as I write, but don't always write "cinematically." I don't think movie when writing up close character scenes. I do when writing action and battle scenes. I deliberately used a cinematic mindset to set up the cuts in one battle I wrote; but that's not how I write every scene.

Whatever works.