Tag Archives: visuals

Staccato: Script vs Novel – by Deborah J Ledford

As I mentioned in a previous article to the series Staccato: Inception, the novel actually began as a screenplay. Staccato was the third script I wrote back in the ‘90s. After the visual of the hands hovering over a piano keyboard, clasped in handcuffs captured my attention (a rendition of what is now the cover of the book), I knew I had the basis for a great sub-plot. Motion picture scripts are ideal for my way of writing—captivating visuals, intriguing characters and most of all, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.

Those of you versed in screenplays know that you cannot go into too much detail, especially how the characters react to situations because this is the actors job, and even the mention of “ticks” or body language is not to be implemented within the pages of the script. Your job as the screenwriter is to merely provide the locations, vaguely set up the characters, and give them lines of dialogue to propel the action.

Novels are another beast and the major reason I switched to writing novels. Composing full-length prose allow you the freedom to create the characters and scenes as they come to you. It is important to completely flesh out locations, especially setting the scene at the top for the reader so they can put themselves there. The way you the writer indicates body language is also acceptable and necessary to make the characters come to life.

Hidden clues are also much easier to show. For example, the mere foreshadow of a clothes hamper which will later contain a bloody shirt can prove to be a captivating visual. Images are more lasting and hard-hitting when used with finesse as well. If you thoroughly give the reader mouth-dropping images, they will remember your book, and look forward to your next.

Most of all, it is a must for the novelist to convey realistic, lasting characters. Characters the reader can connect to, those with heroic capabilities, as well as human flaws, rife with ticks, fears and foibles. The screenwriter must rely on performers, directors and editors to convey these elements.

The novelist has more “power,” if you will, to present the complete picture that comes to them, an ideal representation of their original concept.

I plan to re-write the original screenplay for my second novel in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series, Ice on Fire, but not before this manuscript is available in printed format—the fleshed-out, full blown, complete version of the “Movie in my mind.”

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent book stores.

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Setting the Scene

I find when I’m writing it is like a movie playing in my head and I tend to get wrapped up in the action, dialog and characters, forgetting to paint the scene. So I find myself going back to add visuals later. Often times more than once. Doing sweeps for clothes, decor and so on.

What are my character’s wearing? Do I have the correct styles, fabrics for the period? Do I know the names of the fabrics, styles I’m using? Sometimes I don’t and have to looking for them or have long chunky sentences.

The Costume Gallery

The Fabric Store

Whether it’s a Regency or a Contemporary setting knowing what you are talking about takes a bit of research. 

What a character wears says as much about her as the way she interacts with other characters. Clothes can give subtle hints to things yet to be revealed, or negate the need to explain she’s modest or eccentric or at the top of fashion.

Where do our character’s live? An Arts and Crafts/Californian bungalow or a  Victorian style house. Do you know the different Victorian architecture styles?  As the author it’s your job to be precise in your settings.

Queen Anne is a specific Victorian type not a generic term for the era.  Queen Ann is my personal favorite.

Dave’s Victorian Houses

Are your characters Frank Lloyd Wright, free from clutter, streamlined? Or are they stuck in the eighties with dripping oil lamps and enormous water bed furniture? Or somewhere in between with Gustov Stickley’s clean lines which lend themselves to a homey feeling consistent with the Arts and Craft movement?

FM4 Furniture Styles

Clem Lambine’s Period Homes

As I see it; there should be nothing in a novel which doesn’t serve the purpose of the story. Whether it’s a chintz tea set, Mission style furniture, the color of the walls, carpet or lack there of.

While they might seem inconsequential, what you dress your story with adds layers to characters and the mood of the story. Can you imagine Dracula living in a 70’s split-level? How about Queen Victoria in a sod house?

Knowing what you are talking about can make the descriptive short and unobtrusive. Unless you are in Queen Elizabeth I court it shouldn’t take paragraphs or a page to set the scene or describe a gown.

When I find that I’ve done just that, a lot of it hits the cutting room floor in edits.

So does window dressing happen as you write your first draft?

Do you write in layers, going back to add color to the script?

Is any of the background conscience thought or does it just happen/dictated by the characters themselves?

Do you use back drops and accents as a means to propel the story, or just as fill?

Sherilyn Winrose, author of Safe Harbor published by Second Wind.

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