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Mediums are really weird things, a story that works a television series may never be able to thrive as a novel or a comic book. A piece of interpretive dance may not work as a film but could work as a poem. There are lots of reasons for this, different mediums are more suited to different amounts and types of narrative. When it comes to scripting there are four genres, Stage, Television, Film and Graphic Novels, and while all these mediums are linked in their use of visual medium there are some crucial differences that should be explored before you consider writing in any of the four mediums. Most importantly, they all exist on a sliding scale of realism vs fantasy.
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The thing is, as a medium moves further away from real life the audience creates a lower standard of disbelief, expecting the medium to depict something further from real life. Stagecraft is closest to real life as it is live and occurs with no buffer between it and the audience, this can make more realist pieces, such as Blood Brothers or Waiting For Godot, much more engaging while making more fantastical pieces, such as the majority of musical theatre, really stand out. However, the lack of budget and the constraints of a live performance limit the scope of ideas and can make lots of stories impossible to fully enact, for example consider the speech given by the Chorus in Henry the Fifth exploring the audience to imagine the battles occurring on the stage as they would be impossible to fully manifest.
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When it comes to Film and Television, both mediums sit in the middle of the realism vs fantasy scale. With the knowledge that everything is pre-recorded and has been treated to special effects as well as editing the audience expect a less organic piece, normally with a more fantastical element. That being said, realistic Films and TV shows can work well, just look at low-budget comedy series or most indie films, but they always lack the impact of Stagecraft as there is an awareness that what is on screen in fake. This awareness allows the mediums to be a lot more fantastical than theatre and as everything is only recorded once there are less budget and time constraints, it’s this combination that has lead to some amazing super hero and sci-fi pieces over the years.
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Then we get to comic books, the least realist depiction, bordering with other written mediums. This can make it a lot harder for realistic fiction to be produced in the genre as it is so removed from real life. Writers and Artists normally have to struggle to find some way of making the realistic events for fantastical, such as with Scott Pilgrim. On the other hand as the creative team is only limited by the imagination of the writer and the ability of the artist, there is no limit to what a comic book can achieve and the audience are much more able to suspend their disbelief as the medium is more removed from reality, allowing every super hero epic to occur with readers hardly ever batting an eyelash.
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No medium is superior when compared to any other (I say through clenched teeth) but each medium is superior at telling different styles of stories. Before you ever consider scripting always sit back and consider which medium your piece is best suited too. A piece in the wrong genre can be the difference between a failed TV show and an Eisner award-winning graphic novel. Never let a genre put you off, your piece is your baby and you need to fight to create it in the medium that suits it best!
…that’s this week’s Grr(aphic) Monday’s check back on Wednesday for another BearSleuth opinion as the Civil War article was a completely unexpected break to your regular scheduled sleuthing!