This weekend, I continued my exploration of how the elements of screenwriting apply to writing a novel by attending the Screenwriters Summit Toronto.
I began this journey a few years ago by reading:
- Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (A Step-by-Step Guide from Concept to Finished Script).
- Robert McKee’s Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. (I also attended his gruelling and insightful three-day Story seminar.)
- John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller.
One thing these three writers share – besides a fondness for long book titles – is a keen insight into how structure applies to writing a successful story. I applied many of their insights when writing and revising my latest young-adult novel, The Yo-Yo Prophet, to be published by Orca Books this Fall, and I believe it’s a better book as a result.
And yet the Screenwriters Summit Toronto took this learning even further. Here’s a very quick overview of the speakers and topics:
- Screenwriting consultant Linda Seger talked about deepening a story through theme and creating a more cinematic story through image systems.
- Screenwriting instructor John Truby detailed his seven steps to a great premise and the variations of deep structure.
- Screenwriting guru Syd Field discussed the setup of character and story.
- Screenwriting coach Michael Hauge explained how to turn plot structure from a complicated concept into a simple, powerful tool to apply to story.
Today, my brain seems to be firing all synapses in order to process the varied and sometimes conflicting techniques and opinions presented at the Summit. I’m sure it will take me a while to sort through which insights best speak to my personal writing technique and determine how to apply these insights to my next novel, but I’m certain the process will nudge me further down the path of becoming a master storyteller. A lofty goal, I know, and not one that can be easily measured or even achieved. But at least I’m enjoying the journey.
Note: You can read my follow-up post about the Summit here.