Three: Form

In Form, writers try out their voices in fiction (novel, novella, short story), drama (stage play), and film. At this stage of development, the core story has a direction. If a corpse entered the story at plot point one, the writer creates a sleuth and the presence of the sleuth defines the genre as mystery. If the king transforms into a monster at midpoint, the writer alters the setting to make it seethe with evil, defining the genre as horror. In this third course of story development, writers make hard choices for their tales. A character-based story developed with dreams and lush symbols and interior monologues, while intended for film, might become a piece of fiction headed for Kindle-hood. An action story written as a novel with no subplot and very few secondary characters might be perfect for film. A two-character story with brilliant dialogue that never leaves the bedroom would gravitate to the stage, to the house lights and the expectant hush of live theatre. A series of linked short stories heavy on action and dialogue and starring a lead character with charisma and sex appeal might wend its way toward a series for TV.

Writers who complete the third phase of Story Development exit with a skill level that comes not only from writing practice—putting words on the page—but also from an understanding of form: how the words change to fit the form; how the core story is the core story is the core story. Writer A, who entered Story Development hoping to make some quick money with a commercial screenplay, is now deep into a literary novel. Writer B, who entered Story Development writing fat interior monologues and clumsy self-conscious narration, is almost finished with an action script because she learned how to convert narration into dialogue and dialogue into scene.

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