From script to prose to publication – June Taylor

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By June Taylor

Ultimately, we all find our own methods of working. But I learned how to write scripts before I turned my hand to novels, and I discovered that the scriptwriting discipline really helps.

For me, writing a book is like making a movie.

The first book I wrote was very stark. It was pretty much a script laid out as a novel. Lots of dialogue and very little description. It was very short!

The main difference between script and novel is that when you finish a script you hand it over to a director, who then interprets your vision along with a bunch of actors. And that’s when you pretty much let go of it. I soon realised that with a novel, you are the director, camera person, location manager; in charge of costume, hair, stunts, make up, casting, props, lighting, sound F/X … absolutely everything. And the budget is limitless, so anything is possible.

Once filming is over, the post-production stage begins. You are in control of this too. The editing. You get to decide which scenes end up on the cutting-room floor. You can add new scenes, enhance the ones you’ve got with close-ups and reaction shots. Maybe there should be more action, or more sound F/X needed. Always tweak the dialogue and generally tighten your scenes so that every second counts. Play around with the order too – does that add anything?

This approach isn’t for everyone, but these are my Notes to Self when I’m writing. They are pinned above my desk along with my Ten Point Plan:

SCENES: Think of chapters as scenes or a cluster of scenes. Does each one move the plot forwards, or reveal something about the characters? If not, get rid. Add tension and complications. Keep it interesting.

losing-juliet-final-coverSCENE SETTING: Paint the picture but remember less is more. Golden Rule: “Come in late, get out early” … ie. cut straight to the important bit.

CAMERA ANGLES: Move the camera around. Always ask: Whose viewpoint is it? Begin a scene with an establishing shot, then focus on the detail. End on a close up or reaction shot, or pull out slowly – maybe with a late reveal of something crucial to the plot. Or something more dramatic, like an explosion.

DIALOGUE: Each character has a distinctive voice. Make it difficult for characters to communicate. And remember subtext.

SUBTEXT: People rarely say what they mean, they hide their feelings and have a hidden agenda. So the ‘unsaid’ is just as important as what is actually said.

STAGE DIRECTIONS: Only include the important ones. Static scenes are not so interesting, unless that’s what you’re aiming for. Move the actors about and use the full screen.

1. Think visually.
2. Use all five senses. The sixth one is important too.
3. Step right into the action.
4. Create tension.
5. Hooks at the end of scenes.
6. Show don’t tell.
7. Less is more.
8. Intrigue is good.
9. Let the audience do some work too.
10. You can’t please everyone, but try not to bore anyone!

June Taylor lives in the UK in Leeds, Yorkshire. She studied French and has an MA in Scriptwriting. She mainly worked as a TV promos writer/producer but has done many things from selling cream cakes to teaching English as a foreign language. In 2011 she was runner-up in the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition with her YA novel but these days concentrates on adult psychological thrillers and writes full-time. June’s debut psychological thriller Losing Juliet is published by HarperCollins Killer Reads and is available as an ebook now and in paperback on January 12th.

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