Is Screenwriting an "Art" or a "Craft"?
And does it matter?
December 26th, 2023
by Ben (SU Staff)
It has been asked and debated for a long time whether screenwriting is an "art" or a "craft"? It is true that some in literature circles (as well as Artists) look down on screenwriting as a limited craft with its strict guidelines. The nature of screenwriting is brevity, but within the confinements of the form the ability to create art within the craft still exists. The distinction between art and craft is often blurred, and in the case of screenwriting, both elements are integral to the process. And its important for you as a screenwriter to understand that to be great, you must master both. Lets look at screenwriting through the lens of both:
- Creativity and Expression: Writing a screenplay involves the creative expression of ideas, emotions, and storytelling. The art of screenwriting lies in crafting a compelling narrative, developing well-rounded characters, and evoking emotions through dialogue and visual elements.
- Unique Voice: Every writer brings their unique voice, perspective, and artistic sensibilities to the script. The choices in style, tone, and thematic elements contribute to the artistic dimension of screenwriting.
- Structure and Format: Screenwriting has a set of rules and conventions regarding format, structure, and pacing. Understanding these principles is crucial for effective communication with directors, producers, and actors. The craft of screenwriting involves mastering these technical aspects.
- Revising and Editing: Like any craft, screenwriting requires revision and refinement. Writers often go through multiple drafts, honing their work to enhance clarity, coherence, and impact. This revision process is a key aspect of the craft of screenwriting.
- Collaboration with Filmmakers: Screenwriting is often part of a collaborative filmmaking process. Writers work closely with directors, producers, and other creative professionals. The ability to collaborate and adapt the script to fit the needs of the production is both an artistic and a practical skill.
If you look at the truly great screenwriters they are abe to create a fusion of their unique artistic expression and craftsmanship to create their "voice" as a writer. Successful screenwriters strike a balance between creativity and adherence to the technical aspects of the craft. While the artistry lies in the creation of a unique and engaging story, the craft involves the application of skills and techniques to ensure the build up of drama and tension to the highest level. They have the feel of the story and how to create those elemets in levels others cannot. For you, dear screenwriter, to seperate yourself from the others and create a unique voice you must develop and master both the art and the craftmenship of the trade.