This bonus article can be appreciated by all writers and filmmakers but will be of special interest to writer-storymakers who are trying to decide where to best invest their creative energies and talents – the novel or the screenplay. I’ll begin with some general observations concerning the novelist and the filmwright, a film’s primary creative artist, and then I’ll describe the similarities and critical differences between the novel and the screenplay.
The novelist creates and describes everything that appears in the novel – the plot, the characters, their thoughts and emotions, their actions, the costumes, the atmosphere, the environments, etc. Many of the early filmmakers were like novelists in that they were the filmwrights who had the responsibility for creating everything that would become part of the film. But they couldn’t do everything themselves, so they had to hire others to do the costumes, design and build the sets, act the parts, operate the camera (i.e. create the visual images,) direct the action, write the scripts, create the special effects, and so on – all things which novelists would do on their own.
So the large and small production companies or studios were built around the filmwrights. Charlie Chaplain, Irving Thalberg, Steven Spielberg, and Walt Disney, among others are filmwrights. All of the other disciplines, including the writers and directors, come to them for approval. Today what we know of as the screenwriter became one of the many functions that served the interests and needs of the primary creative artist, the filmwright, the one who was really making the creative decisions.
The way I see it, the filmwright and the novelist are equivalent and have similar creative experiences, except that the novelist is a one man or woman band doing everything themselves, while the filmwright delegates many responsibilities to others, is generally more sociable, and can handle a great deal more stress.
Looked at realistically, a...
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