Okay, so you are a novelist, and I can understand completely that you might think this will not apply to you. But wait just a cotton picking moment. I am a novelist, but I started out as a scriptwriter. That being the case, everything I ever learned about scriptwriting now applies to my novel writing.
Why is that, I hear you ask.
Well, I'll tell you.
Leap back a couple of thousand years ago. Bear with me; there's a purpose to this convolution. Okay, so we're sitting around our communal fire.
Very few people can read or write, (probably no one, come to think of it), but one guy (or perhaps woman), is really good at storytelling. They have the ability to entrance their fellow tribe members with stories that help to explain the nature of life. These stories are handed down by word of mouth through the generations. The storytellers learn which stories work best at holding their audience's attention. They become experts in all the different aspects of storytelling. They hone their tales until eventually they form a collective conscience of myths and ancient folk tales.
These then, are archetypal stories and characters. The Greek myths of gods and goddesses are all stories like this. Theatre evolved from oral storytelling. Move forward in time and each generation reworks and retells the archetypes, often unknowingly. It's as if the best stories are encoded in our DNA. We just know when we have found something that resonates with us.
Then film comes along. At first, it's an adaptation of theatre, but with more scope for showing where and when. Film becomes adept at taking archetypal stories and spinning them round into those 'ah' moments; moments we experience when we know the story is all fitting together just right.
So, very early on in the history of film-making, scriptwriters learned how to put words on paper that could, not only be translated into a visual image, but tell the most perfect of archetypal stories. That's why, if you want to write novels, you might be best advised to learn first about all the tools and techniques in a scriptwriters tool kit.
Kurt Vonnegut is one of my most favourite authors of all time. Here's a handy little infogram
about how he saw archetypal stories - Btw, he was originally an anthropologist.
Here too is the mother of all archetypal stories
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