Page or Stage? Sorcery or Sword?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Stephen Zimmer back to my blog as he tours the internet with another Rayden Valkyrie novella. But Rayden's not "just" the star of a cool (and growing) series of books. She's also star of her own TV pilot - maybe even a series - and Stephen's here to tell us about the difference between writing for page and screen. So, over to you Stephen, and thank you for visiting my blog:

Writing for Page and Screen in Sword and Sorcery

Sheila asked me to comment on the things that are both harder and easier when it comes to writing for the screen as opposed to writing for readers on the page, especially in regard to the sword and sorcery genre that my Rayden Valkyrie stories are classified in.

Writing for screen and writing for the page are two entirely different kinds of writing and must be approached on their own terms.

In a nutshell, writing for the screen is a minimalist art.  Only the most critical details important to a plot, location, or characters are included in individual scene descriptions. 

You can only “show” in a screenplay.  You cannot “tell” in the way that you can with a work of prose.  A character has to be depicted solely through action and dialogue, with maybe a few insights conveyed through the parentheticals above a line of dialogue. 

The screenwriter cannot convey the interior thoughts of a character in the manner that a writer of prose can. It is one of the harder aspects for many writers of prose to get used to when writing their first screenplays, along with the temptation to be too descriptive. 

With the focus on dialog and action, the screenwriter has less to be concerned with as opposed to the broader palette of a fiction writer.

This does tend to be well-suited for the sword and sorcery genre, which tends to be very action-driven in the kinds of tales told within it.  Of course, with the more bare-bones description, there is a lot of room in a sword and sorcery screen project for directors, art departments, cast members, and others to bring creative elements to the table to make a story come alive.

This brings to light the role of a screenplay in a movie project; it serves as the blueprint and the foundation. 

It is not meant to be the final product.  Rather, it is the outline that will be fleshed out through pre-production, production, and post-production by all the other departments.  This is a big reason why adaptations of novels or other forms of prose reflect many differences by the time that they reach the screen.

However, sword and sorcery tales are often very linear narratives following a single main character, which is very conducive to the adaptation process in terms of getting the basic storyline translated to the screen accurately.  This is much harder to do when working with a big ensemble, epic fantasy kind of tale (which is why Game of Thrones was so impressive, through the episodes that were based upon existing books).

In prose, the writer of sword and sorcery gets to work with an unlimited “budget”.  There is no concern about the scale of the story.  You can have lots of monsters and a cast of thousands in the pages of a book, whereas the screenwriter does have to keep in mind the scale of the production as it relates to the story.  This is why there is a broader and richer range of tales in the book world when it comes to sword and sorcery, and many other genres, versus visual media. 

The ability to go inside of the character’s head also favors the writer of prose.  Sword and sorcery tends to involve very heroic main characters, and often there are long stretches in a tale where they do not engage in dialogue due to a journey, an encounter in the wilderness, a battle, or something else.  At these times, the intimate bond that a reader has with a main character is well-protected in prose with the writer being able to give the thoughts, fears, concerns, and other interior elements of a character as they experience them.

As a storyteller, I have enjoyed writing both screenplays and prose.  They both have their unique challenges for me as a writer, and they are distinct arts.  It is true that some things are harder or easier between the two, but I encourage writers to explore both, as the lessons from each will help a writer to improve and grow.

Thank you Stephen. I'm not sure I'm ready to write for screen yet - too hooked on digging my way into my character's thoughts -  but I'm certainly eager to see Rayden brought to life, and I really enjoyed the pilot episode:

To view the full TV Pilot, just follow this link to the YouTube page: 

And so, dear reader...

Take a journey east with Rayden Valkyrie as she undertakes one of her most harrowing adventures yet! Prowling the Darkness is the latest release in the Rayden Valkyrie Tales!

A return to hard-hitting, gritty sword and sorcery with an iconic and inspiring main character, the Rayden Valkyrie Tales are a growing collection of stand-alone novellas that will elate fans of the genre! Plus, as a novella, Prowling the Darkness is a shorter and quicker read for the fast-paced world.

Follow the Prowling the Darkness Blog Tour for reviews, interviews, guest posts, video, and top ten lists! And meet author, Stephen Zimmer:

About the author:  

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Where to find him:

Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

About Prowling the Darkness:  

Dark rumors and whisperings of unholy sorcery bring Rayden Valkyrie to the remote city of Sereth-Naga.

There she finds a populace cowering in fear of the city’s ruthless, mysterious rulers, who remain behind the high walls of their citadel.

An even greater mystery surrounds the city.

Something is prowling the darkness.

Something that has kept the enigmatic rulers for centuries from escaping Sereth-Naga to spread their wickedness to other lands.

Prowling the Darkness is a stand-alone novella that is part of the Rayden Valkyrie Tales.

Where to Find Prowling the Darkness:

Kindle Version:

Barnes and Noble Link for Prowling the Darkness:



Find out more! Follow the Tour!

8/7      Armed with a Book Review

8/7      I Smell Sheep        Guest Post

8/7      Fragile Winds      Guest Post

8/8      The Most Sublime   Review

8/8      Breakeven Books           Guest Post

8/9      Armed with a Book Interview      

8/10    Horror Tree          Guest Post

8/10    Sheila's Guests and Reviews     Guest Post

8/11    Speculative Fiction Spot         Guest Post

8/12    Literary Underworld          Guest Post

8/13    Jazzy Book Reviews Video Interview

8/13    The Book Junkie Reads Guest Post

8/14    Stuart Conover's Homepage     Top Ten's List

8/14    Bookish Valhalla  Review


sgzimmer said…
Thank you for hosting me, Sheila! :)

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