How I Use Screenwriting Tricks to Write a Novel
Ever since I could remember, I struggled with conventional writing advice about having a beginning, middle and end.
There was something intrinsically terrifying about that humungous bit called ‘the middle’ that had me waving garlic and chanting incantations in its general direction.
It also didn’t help that when I started writing, I was a pantser – and pretty useless at it, too. That means I just wrote – no plotting, no idea of where the story was going, and heading one way towards a guaranteed stress-fest.
Something had to change, and so when I set out to write my next novel, I started to plot and outline my stories before I started writing. Yet I still had that damn middle section to tackle.
However, after I went along to a screenwriting masterclass taught by Cathy Overett (who produced Iron Sky and Bullets for the Dead amongst other films) in 2014, a light bulb lit up like a supernova in my brain.
I discovered that film scripts typically have five Acts. The way I would describe it is to divide up the middle part so it has its own ‘beginning, middle, and end’.
So, now I outline with five parts to a story, and for two reasons. For a start, it makes it more manageable. Secondly, it ensures I “lift” the action at the end of each of those extra Acts – the critical points for the reader.
If you’re interested in this approach, and want to find out more, there are two books I’d recommend: Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!) and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.
Both set out this technique, and you get the added bonus of digging out some favourite films to see the formula at work.
You won’t need the garlic any more, either.
Find out more about Rachel at her website here