How Writing for the Screen Is Different From Writing for the Page

Question: Has your work as a screenwriter influenced the way \r\nyou write novels?
\r\n

Bret Easton Ellis: A novel is not a logical thing and it \r\ndoesn't come from a logical place.  It comes from a really emotional \r\nplace.  A screenplay is a plan.  You have a plan.  You have to tell a \r\nstory within about 100 pages and it has to move this way and that way.  \r\nAnd there needs to be some sense of resolution, and it has to have this \r\nkind of narrative flow that a book doesn't.

And so in a way it's \r\nvery easy to write a script compared to a book.  I think part of the \r\nreason maybe screenwriting is not as much fun as writing a book is that \r\nyou have to adhere to a formula, and stylistically it doesn't matter how\r\n it's written, and ultimately it's the blueprint for medium where a \r\ndirector and the actors are more important than the script.  And it's \r\ncollaborative.  You get notes from producers.  You get notes from people\r\n who have a lot of money who want to put their imprint on the film.  And\r\n you get notes from a director who wants three, four, five more polishes\r\n before he's ready do shoot.

\r\nAnd so it's a collaborative process. And a novel is not a collaborative \r\nprocess.  And there are, I think, pleasures to both mediums and I like \r\nworking in both.  But it's a good point.  Has it affected my \r\nwriting—writing, you know, so many scripts? I don't think so because I \r\ndon't look at a novel as a thing that I want to turn into a movie.  I \r\nmean, the novels that I write are really just literary-based.  I think \r\nof them as books first and foremost and I don't think of them anything \r\nelse.

Recorded June 23, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

"It's very easy to write a script compared to a book," says the author. A novel is not a logical thing and it doesn't come from a logical place—a screenplay is a focused plan.

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