I originally wrote Six Winter Days as a screenplay. I tried to sell it for about a year, then figured, hey, I’ll turn it into a novel. That will sell my screenplay. There’s an advantage in starting as a screenplay in that you already have a beginning, middle, and end, and in fact, most of the story. The disadvantage is that a screenplay is about 18,000 words, and a novel is 80,000 words.
There are other considerations as well. A screenplay has to be strictly show-don’t-tell, whereas a novel can ‘tell’ certain things, like a reader’s thoughts, although that should be used sparingly, in my opinion. More on Show-Don’t-Tell and Point of View in a later post.
Additionally, a screenplay is always present tense, and although some novels do this, I don’t recommend it. When I wrote my first draft of Six Winter Days, I sent it to a retired High-School English Teacher in New Jersey. This lady had read 4 novels a week for about 50 years, and she knew grammar, structure, and everything.
She called me after she finished it, and said, “It’s pretty good, Kev, but you know it’s present tense.”
I said, “Yeah, so what?”
She said, “Nothing. It’s just that I’m used to reading novels in present tense. Do you want to talk to your father? Gene, Kevin’s on the phone.”
She died in April, 2013, after many years of helping me with my writing. She never got to see my novel published. RIP, Mom.