There is no great mystery in the difference between writing for TV and writing digital fiction. It’s really the same process; it’s the way it’s read that’s different. The ‘viewer’ sees the pictures on a TV screen in one; they see them in their head in the other. Digital is like all good fiction that is non-visual; the writing should be of a standard that makes the reader imagine what they are reading.
The idea with Boxfiction was to take the best of a popular TV show and combine it with the best of the written word. The result of this was the eSeries – new, written episodes of TV. What you end up with is like a TV show without the visual images – the reader gets to enjoy what’s familiar, but still needs to call on their imagination to bring it to life.
When writing ‘Silent Witness’ this is already partly done for them. They know what the lab looks like; they know what Sam Ryan looks like as well. However they are then forced to use their imaginations to see a particular scene or a character. It’s a strange hybrid between the imagination of a book reader and that of a TV watcher.
With short written episodes you are able to quickly engage with the main characters. You can get to the meat of the character right away, whereas within a screenplay these things tend to slowly unravel. The written word allows you to delve deeper into the psychology of characters, providing insight into their motivations that can only be inferred from the words and action on screen. This means you’ll often get a more involving experience from the written world than the passive world of visual entertainment.
But there is much an author can learn from TV, and some of these lessons can transform the written word into something quite different to the novel. TV scripts work at an incredible pace and efficiency, make use of short punchy scenes, weave intricate episode and series story arcs together and make strong use of hooks that keep people involved in on-going dramas. The art of script writing is not like the typical image we have of the solitary craftsman labouring on their novel. I have heard it likened to strapping oneself to the top of a rocket at precisely the moment someone presses the launch button, which sounds apt to me.
Ultimately as a viewer, with TV a lot of the hard work is done for you. All you have to do is sit there with your dinner on your lap and watch. Reading forces you think harder. Reading in episodes is a more familiar and accessible form of entertainment, like TV. But it also has that involvement that comes with reading.
Personally, I have always preferred writing for books to writing for TV. Like the reader, it stimulates me, forces my imagination to work harder, and I can keep better control of the situation and characters. But writing in episodes for Boxfiction in many ways allows me to combine what I see as the best of both TV and books.
Boxfiction is a new kind of digital publisher, releasing half-hour episodes each week to be downloaded onto laptops, tablets, mobile devices and e-readers. This revolutionary ‘eSeries’ concept launches today with ‘Titan’, the first of five all-new double episodes to join the Silent Witness canon. Visit www.boxfiction.com to find out more, or download the app for free at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/boxfictionapp/id473052728?mt=8&ls=1"