About Selecting a Medium

Radio, play, screenplay, script, book, graphic novel. Each medium can tell the same story, but the effect the story has will change depending on the medium. Every medium has their advantages and disadvantages that will effect the story. The key and the hardest part of story creation is determining what medium your story needs to be told. If you choose wrongly, the possible effect and impact the story has could be dampened and lost, rather than relished and upheld.

*The points below are only a starting point and the pros and cons can be debated. I could write an entire essay on choosing one medium for a specific type of story. These are only examples.

Radio
The radio format used to be extremely popular in the past, when radios were the point of entertainment in a household. Now radios exist as background music and slight humor in the mornings. The art of radio has shifted to short comedic pieces. But in the past, people were able to be fooled into hysteria by people of the likes of Orson Welles. Radio has the ability to tell you a story and maintain suspense. it’s ability to broadcast voices and sound, but remain visually mysterious allows the audience the ability to let their mind roam.
Advantage: Great for Suspense, Fast paced
Disadvantage: lesser paid attention to medium, voice actors are vital to success

Play
The play is a classic form of art expression. It has existed for millenia and will continue to endure as it is a very human and visual way to play out a story. With a play, the actors on screen are literally depicted a story before your eyes, allowing it to unfold. By playing in front of the audience, the audience becomes a part of the experience as though it was happening in their own life.
Advantage: Classic story telling, visual, emotional
Disadvantage: Inability to get in someone’s head, enjoyment relies on actors

Screenplay
Screenplays are written by the buttload. There are thousands of TV shows and even more episodes. I would bet that for each of those thousands, likely millions, of episodes, there were at least 3 other screenplays thrown around for that episode. Then when you add in how many screenplays are written by amateurs that will never see the light of day, you reach possibly billions. The television medium provides a lot of freedom, but similar to plays and movies, there are restrictions
Advantage: Short format, visual, large cast of characters
Disadvantage: ¬†Inability to get in someone’s head, enjoyment relies on actors and directors

Script
The similarities between a television screenplay and a movie script are similar in terms of the mediums ability to tell a story. One key difference is a script must close the major conflict by the end of a film. Screenplays, however, can drag out a story for more than a single screenplay. Using each screenplay as a different plot point.
Advantage: Concise story telling, relatively short story time
Disadvantage: Inability to get in someone’s head, enjoyment can rely on production

Graphic Novel
This medium has been flourishing over time. No longer are they seen as simply comics and childish. People are now understanding that graphic novels are a viable solution to certain story telling problems. Graphic novels allow you to visually see the story, while not relying on any single person’s ability that could alter how other character’s are viewed.
Advantage: Visual, growing medium, more character development
Disadvantage: Shorter story due to format

Novel
Another classic medium, but not quite as classic as the play. Novels allow the audience to indulge themselves into a story. While the writer creates the world on a page that world can be interpreted differently by each reader. The novel allows a writer to delve into a story and pull out all the details.
Advantage: Ability to convey more,
Disadvantage: Can’t control the images a reader creates, not visual, wordsmithing is vital to proper understanding

Outside Comfort Zone
Part of the reason, stories are not told well us because the creator didn’t choose the right medium. This can come in a few different ways. A good movie screenwriter will know their personal strengths and weaknesses when it comes to telling a story. Bundled up with that, they will know that the story is not meant to be a film. For example: The story idea that a screenwriter bursts into their head with a vengeance and passion. But the more the screenwriter thinks about it, they realize the visual medium of a film leaves the idea shallow. Instead, they realize that in order for the story to have the impact they seek it needs to be a novel or graphic novel. A good artist will recognize that the story they thought of, while good, isn’t prime for the medium they specialize in. Now they have to make a choice, do you abandon the idea, pass it on to someone who specializes in it’s proper medium, or take a try at the medium yourself?

3 thoughts on “About Selecting a Medium

  1. Pingback: Roundup October 2013 | So, I pondered...

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