Screenplay or Novel?

Note: No, this is not my map. It’s actually a map from The Lord of the Rings. My map looks like I laid a sheet of paper on the floor, taped pens to the legs of a chicken, and then chopped its head off.

It’s late. My head hurts from creating worlds and filling them with history, people, and places for the past 6 hours. The only food I’ve consumed all day is a large iced coffee and a Double-Double Animal-Style with Animal Fries from In-N-Out. I may have left Waffle House behind in Tennessee, but holy hell did I gain one kick-ass joint in California!

…at least I have the diet of a writer.

I wrote a short screenplay a while ago. It didn’t follow any sort of act structure.  It was just 10 pages of awesome action and cool characters. It was kind of a teaser, in that it ended with the hero receiving a letter.  I’ve sat on that short for over a year now, despite some positive reviews from my peers.

So the other day, after getting bored with the 2 other screenplays I’ve been trying to beat out, I finally came back to it.  I opened up Word and just started to write.  It turned out, that after a few hours, I had written a fairly detailed back story to the world my hero lived in. After that, I got inspired to draw a map of what I thought the land might look like.  In doing so, I had to create and name roads, villages, cities, a castle, a giant wall, a mountain range, and forests. Soon, I had a detailed map of my hero’s world, a ton of places for him to explore, and a pretty general history of the past few hundred years. It was all only about 5 pages of stuff… but I loved it!

From all of this came a flood of crazy ideas that I would love to see and write about in this newly created world.  So, I began making a huge list of things and ideas that don’t really make sense.  Stuff like: “rows of hanging corpses” and “a girl running through the woods” – just random shit like that.  After a little while, I figured out I was having a lot of fun doing all of this!

From there I started beating out my story.  When I got lost, I just looked at my map and my cool character list, and thought to myself, “How can I get my character to that place, and who can I have him meet along the way? He needs a love interest, right?” BANG!!  Another plot point down.

So today while I’m going through everything I’ve written down, a thought hits me, “I could start a fucking novel with all this material.”  But here’s the problem:  I don’t know shit about writing a novel.  I know how to write a screenplay. I’ve been studying how to write a screenplay  for the past 2 years.  But for some reason, the idea of writing a novel scares the crap out of me! I love reading fiction, so you would think I’d at least have an idea of how to write a novel, but I don’t.  Believe it or not, I don’t even trust in my ability to properly form sentences or spell words correctly (which you can probably tell from reading my blog).  So what do I do?

I could definitely form a screenplay around this story.  But there is so much detail I would like to explore in my hero’s world.  Should I just start a novel? I’ve always wanted to write a novel, and I love reading them, but the prospect just scares me.  Do I write it in 3rd person?  1st person?  Ugh.

I don’t know the answer to this question yet. I just needed to write it all down to help organize my thoughts.

I did find this article by John August.

Any writers out there been through/going through this internal struggle?

3 thoughts on “Screenplay or Novel?”

  1. Sounds familiar. I’ve been working on my screenplay now for years-almost embarrassed to say how many- but I have been taking a lot of instruction and come up with short bursts now and then. Glad to see you and hope your thoughts and blog can help. Cheers!

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