I was inspired to write this post after writing about the screen writing of 13 Reasons Why which is based off of the novel by Jay Asher. It occurred to me that we don’t give screen writers enough credit, without their amazing ideas directors wouldn’t really have much to direct. I mean, let’s take a look at Black Panther as an example, that is an amazing movie that took an incredible screen writer to come up with the different layers of plot. In this post, I will be exploring the role of a screen writer and just who some notable ones happen to be.
To begin, just what is a screen writer? They are the man behind the scenes turning your favorite book into a script. Personally, I haven’t done much with scripted writing, but what I can say is that it is an elaborate process that is separate from fiction in that there is more showing rather than explaining.
A screen writer’s expertise is creating reality in front of the camera rather than through the interiority of a single character like what you might find in a fiction first person-point-of-view oriented novel. Usually, the screen writer creates the script while the director reviews it to see just what would have to be tweaked for budgeting, camera, and other cinematic purposes. Sometimes, the screen writer is also the director and novelist, like Stephen King (what I aspire to become *clears throat*).
Now, these screen writers that we speak of aren’t just behind the scenes of movies but also they create the scripts of some of your favorite reality TV shows, commercials, and even slogans. Their influence is so great that we don’t realize just how political their writing is in comparison to that of a novel. Since we don’t take the time to read as fast as we would to binge watch a newer episode of a Netflix Original information is relayed differently.
Instead of capturing it through the lines of a book we are being socialized to rely on TV for our meanings and messages, some of the reality shows that are scripted are at the hands of screen writers who don’t mind creating the things that we like or dislike about various aspects of culture.
Side note, anyone peep the fact that majority of the social media accounts I’ve share with you are those of white males? Hmm… seems there’s a demand for more cultured writers in the field.
When we critique a show usually we are commenting on the kinds of things that were in the hands of the screen writer. Things such as lines, opinions, arguments, and even humor were all controlled and given to the actors, they’re just acting it out. But, if you can understand the importance of screen writing then you can appreciate screenwriters more for their hard work.
Actually, in my opinion, their job is a bit harder than that of a novelist. Most novelist don’t mind working each day to create a book with various ranges of interiority, or what Wayne C. Booth refers to as “distance,” but that of a screenwriter can only make visual distinctions. And, if you’ve ever invested a small speck of your time studying film you understand one of the basics such as the camera creating the story by way of moving in and out of scenes can be one of the harder ways to make psychological comparisons of characters.
This isn’t my area of expertise so I don’t have an exact word for it, but the point I’m getting at is that more than just the lines the actual visual technique matters. Think about how many movies you’ve stopped watching because their creativity wasn’t good enough to capture your attention, and the quality didn’t align with the things that make it to your local movie theatre.
So, when you turn on your TV to the next show you watch think about the way that things are portrayed and ask yourself just how much the screenwriter’s fault, could the script have been written differently, and if written differently what would be changed/effected? How would this be if it were a novel, could it be turned into a novel?