Discovering a New Area of the Universe

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 by   7 Comments | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

Sally WalkerBy Sally J. Walker 

When you write for yourself, the entire experience is carefree, laidback, easy because you know your audience.  But the moment you begin to write for someone else, you should feel the pressure of meeting expectations and doing a good job for that other person. Only the most arrogant of writers think anything thrown out into the universe will be respected, even admired by all others. I think the vast majority of us who write to connect with the mind and soul of others approach the process with humility and hope. We WANT that reader to enjoy the experience we depict and understand the information we share. We want the reader to identify with our characters and imagine the settings could be real.  We want each reading session with our fiction to be a wondrous imaginary journey of vicariously living the experience with the characters. That’s how I feel about writing fiction, anyway.


The discipline of moving from selfish writing to the reader’s perceptions is a tough one.  We have to let go of the expectation that the writing will satisfy every single reader.  That ain’t gonna happen. I go with Abe Lincoln’s admonition to “satisfy some of the people some of the time.”

So, you get comfortable in one writing medium such as novels. The feedback from your critique group and reviews of your material on the market build your confidence. What happens when you have the audacity to try something outside your comfort zone, an effort that must speak to an entirely different audience with entirely different expectations? 

The very first action you take is to learn all you can about the different medium. Don’t assume what you already know about the craft of writing will automatically translate into the new arena.  Yes, things like use of proper grammar and writing logical sentences will demonstrate that you understand the fundamentals of the generalized craft of writing. (You probably aren’t surprised that there are a lot of wanna-be writers out there who don’t get the importance of those simple rules.) 

Storytelling is storytelling, right?

Study of the fundamentals of a new arena of writing is an essential step to boosting both your own confidence and the likelihood you will make fewer mistakes.  Pros in whatever field will easily recognize a lack of knowledge then discount the efforts. Everyone is busy; they don’t have time to make allowances for someone who has not bothered to UNDERSTAND the requirements of that different type of storytelling. 

Many an accomplished novelist has heard “Your book would make a wonderful movie.  You should adapt it into a screenplay!” If you did not shiver at that point, you should have.  The process of translating one medium into another is complex. Tom Clancy HATED the film versions of his books.  Most avid readers will be highly critical of film versions of books. Why?  They don’t understand the differences between the two mediums.

Novels are one life form of storytelling and cinema is a very distant relative living in its own area of the universe and not even speaking the same language or going through life with the same rules. If anyone wants to travel a new area and be accepted, that person must study the language of the people and the rules of the society.

Where do you learn about screenwriting? Amazon and all those glorious brick-and-mortar bookstores out there have a wide selection of reference material. I even have three economically priced e-textbooks that can be down-loaded to your computer or Kindle (INTRO TO SCREENWRITING, ROMANTIC SCREENPLAYS 101, SCREENWRITING SECRETS IN GENRE FILM). 

However, if you are merely curious about HOW a novel gets adapted into a screenplay, RWA’s FF&P chapter is hosting my on-line May course “How Book-to-Film Adaptation Works.”  This course is for anyone who wants to shift their mindset and maybe discover that distant area of the universe is a comfortable place where a storyteller can reside and create with confidence.

The Class runs May 5th to May 31st

Sign up HERE      

Sally J. Walker
Editorial Director, The Fiction Works,
Workshop Facilitator,
Available at Amazon, other venues &
Letting Go of Sacred Things, Desert Time, The Seduction of Temperance
A Writer’s Year, Screenwriting Secrets in Genre Film,
Romantic Screenplays 101, Intro to Screenwriting
My Website:


7 Responses to "Discovering a New Area of the Universe"

  1. Comment by Nancy Lee Badger
    April 6, 2014 12:01 pm

    At my age, and with my releases, I do not care about the ‘big picture’. Yes, I would like an agent to say “I have to represent her!” or a well-respected publisher say “Yes, we want your manuscript!” but until then, I write what comes to me. Screenwriting? I sit here shivering at the thought. Thanks for the article.

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