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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Story & Form (Or When An Idea Has More Than One Set of Legs)

Have you ever had an idea for a story or character journey and could not only picture its existence as a film but could also see it expanded as a television series?

Maybe an idea began as a comedy series for television but would work well as a radio series with less budget and more chance of being commissioned?

Alternatively, it may have began as a short film but has the potential to work as a feature with expanded development and more characters?

But ultimately were put off by the amount of work and wrote it in one format - while dreaming of the other. Or could not decide and left them both.

It can sometimes be troubling and a killjoy to visualise an exciting story concept in another form to then reach a deadlock. However, the important thing is to keep moving forward regardless.

Passion Vs. Logic 

From experience the more insight and knowledge I've gained into what would work and fit into a particular form the more my instincts are attuned to what will work best. Naturally it becomes easier. But on the other hand, it also tunes your skills of transference and adapting a story to another medium and format because you are aware of the pieces involved and how they must work.

It becomes a process of weighing up the pros and cons as to which medium and form to tell a story in. It's a task and conflict that consists of passion versus logic. Passion wants you to tell a story in the format you initially experienced it in (when it burst into life) because it's what got you fired up about it in the first place. But logic tells you that it may work best in a different format, may be more commercial, entertaining and appealing, or even as a stepping stone to its ideal and preferred format.

All Roads Lead to Rome 

It's a tough situation and one I don't think should be a question of one or the other unless you reach an informed decision. It should be a matter of them both. Follow your heart on the one format then follow your logic with another. Increase its chances. Once you have drafts (or outlines/treatments) written down then you (and others) can compare and contrast and see which works best for a particular medium.

Even if you don't use or pursue one format's work, at least you would have gained further insight into the characters and the story, what works and doesn't work, as well as experience with the formats themselves, which would have informed whichever final form it takes on in the future.

In the least, it would count as development work. It may even be called upon someday after a brief mention and interest from a fellow writer, producer or exec and re-surface once again, and with the bulk of the work already done.

Nothing that's developed and worked on then discarded is ever wasted material or a waste of time. It all has its place and helps you and your story to develop. It should never be discarded without appreciation and understanding.

"Well done is better than well said."

- Benjamin Franklin

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