My Great Debate: Novel Writing vs. Screenwriting


Ever since I was a kid, I have been writing stories.  As I grew older, I became more ambitious and attempted to write novels.  Out of the several that I’ve begun over the years, only one ever made it to completion, and to be honest, it’s not very good.  Once, I became overambitious with one of the novels I was trying to write; the story grew so large in scope that I had to take a break from it.

It was hard to resume novel writing after that experience because I didn’t want the same to happen.  I decided instead to try my hand at short stories and enjoyed the relative simplicity of that exercise.  To write a short story, economy is imperative, and I found it beneficial to tether my mind to hone in on the story I wanted to tell.

At the same time, however, I had a growing interest in film and television, and I decided to enroll myself in a screenwriting course.  From the course, I learned why short stories make better templates for movies than novels do; the key word is simplicity.  A short story gets straight to its point, providing a clearer launching point for a screenplay.  After understanding this concept, I dove into screenwriting.  I isolated my stories, I imagined scenarios, and I just wrote.

At the beginning, the most challenging part of the screenwriting process was learning how to think visually.  Every internal motivation – so easy to explain in a novel – had to be demonstrated through action.  I had to pinpoint exactly what actions were necessary to tell my story.  And I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

So now I find myself at a crossroads.  I can pursue screenwriting as my creative hobby or I can return to novel writing.  The great debate has arisen because, right now, I honestly cannot tell which I prefer – or in which I’m more adept.  Though I currently have greater my zeal for screenwriting, this is likely due to my consuming more films and television than novels at the moment.  But I still love reading novels, and it is my dream to have one published someday.

In the end, both types of writing boil down to storytelling, and that’s something I want to pursue further.  I’ll have to spend more time with both modes of storytelling before I truly discover which is my forte.  And when I do, hopefully, I’ll make the best of it.

If you’ve had experience with both screenwriting and novel writing, which do you prefer and why?  If you’ve only tried one of the two, what are your thoughts on it, and do you have any feelings about the other?


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