Monday, 30 November 2009

Is it?

The title of my blog is:


Is it?

The phrase is almost a contradiction. Science and art do not go together.

Obviously in screenwriting, there has to be a balance. You can't write a good film without some combination of writing ability and a knowledge of the film world.

I'd say script writing is the strictest form, but can you write a film having never seen a screenplay? The format would obviously be the biggest hurdle - without getting that right, you might as well give up now! But otherwise, is it possible?

What about forms of writing? Is it possible to write a novel without ever having read one? Or to write an amazing poem never having studied the rhyme or metre?

I'm no poet, but in the past I've written poems (as part of my creative writing modules at uni). Here's the only poem I've ever written that I consider to be remotely decent:



The words echo.
Empty lies falling on empty minds.
From their lips, through the garden.
Come crashing down into the world.

Piercing light above.
His that casts shadows on the truth below.
Forever in darkness.
Blissful ignorance of what could be.
Of what is.

Infinite guardians of His name on bended knee.
Choices made with unknown arrogance.
One word to disrupt the chaos
Blinding light further still
Free-falling through
Fear into freedom
Deceitful light
Casts no


Choices made.
Attending eyes cast shadows from above.
Greeted by ruling light in the depths below:


It's not brilliant; anyone who says it's great is being overly generous. But it's not terrible either. It's average.

I've studied poetry (more than I'd like to) so I know the inner workings and technicalities of the craft. However, the poem above was written with chosen ignorance of all that. I didn't think about rhymes or stanzas etc. The only 'trick' I used was a visual one - the way the words fit on the page. Maybe that's because I'm a very visual person - a screenwriter afterall. Maybe. Maybe not.

So can a good piece of writing be written off talent alone? Scripts are very rigid, formulaic things, probably more so than any other form. Whereas poetry is often viewed as personal and emotive. I know people who write poetry who would never show me their work. They're not writing it for money or for people to see. They're writing it for themselves. Maybe they just like writing?

I attempted to create a hierarchy of writing, with the most formulaic, scientific forms at the top, ending with the more expressive, art-centered:
radio plays
stage plays
short stories
Do you agree? I'm not sure I do - the task is impossible! Too many variables.

On another note, what about short films and their scripts? Short films are to script writers what short stories are to novelists, yes? They are often written based on a single thought or emotion, whereas a 'full' piece requires a more......objective approach?

I really don't know. But I do know this:
Writing can be taught.

Writing is a balance between science and art.

Writing is a scientific art.

1 comment:

Adaddinsane said...

Personally, I'd say it this way: All creative arts have associated techniques and constraints.

You can teach the techniques, and the constraints. You can't teach the creativity.

However knowing the techniques and the constraints any person can produce reasonable products, while just having creativity isn't enough.

It takes true genius to be able to break the constraints and invent new techniques that genuinely work.

All art is about the communication of emotion, if it's not doing that then it's just masturbation.

(Actually, at it's heart, science is elegant [it is art] - if it isn't elegant then it's probably wrong.)