Books vs. The LBD

As most of you likely know, not only do I write romance novels, but I have been for the past several months writing for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern-day web series version of Pride and Prejudice.  I have been massively enjoying working with such talented folks, and a few days before the holidays, we received word that, apparently a lot of other people have been massively enjoying the show too, and decided to nominate the show for six Streamy Awards!

A lot of people have asked me the difference between writing for the screen and writing novels, and how I split my time between each.  Well, as to the latter question, I don’t find splitting my time an issue, as it is I tend to always be working to the minute of my deadline no matter what (insert sheepish grin).  But as to the first question, I have found two major differences between writing for LBD and my books.

1.  Collaboration

Most people outside of the writing profession think of writers as solitary creatures, locked away in our rooms, attempting the Herculean task of wrestling our ideas out of our heads and onto the page.  And this may be true (we may also be playing a lot of Angry Birds, but I digress) for the individual novelist, but for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, there are six writers.  And when we are breaking the story, we all do it in a room together.  Once we figure out what each episode is going to be, they are assigned to specific writers, and then we go off and do the Herculean wrestling on our own.  But even then, the scripts we turn in are subject to notes and opinions from our showrunner, Bernie Su, and other producers.  In fact, you are not trying to write the episodes in your own voice, but instead trying to write in the voice of the show, the tone of which is set by the showrunner.  (Just for the record, Bernie is awesome, and a great showrunner.  Hi Bernie!)

As for the second difference…

2.  Money

By money, I do not refer to my paycheck.  I am referring instead to the limitations of money.  (Money? Limiting?  How very odd!)

When writing a novel, the only limitations I have are my imagination. I can set scenes in the grandest of palaces, a ballroom full of guests.  Heck, I can set it in space, if I want to.  But when writing for a show, you have to bear in mind what the show is capable of producing.  And that is almost exclusively limited by what you can afford.  Every extra, every prop, every set, every actor, costs.  Take for example Episode 38, Tale of Two Gents, which I wrote.  I wanted to have a whiteboard, on which Lizzie would keep score between the two men.  It was actually cheaper for us to add the tally as an editing effect than to go out and buy a whiteboard, which is what we did.

Here's the cover of Let It Be Me -- you know, in case you forgot...

In many ways, the constraints of a budget make the writing better – it forces you to get creative.  That scene that was going to be in a grand ballroom between your hero and heroine?  It would be cheaper – and possibly more intimate, tantalizing – to set it in a darkened hallway, before you get to the ballroom.  Sometimes, I find it highly effective to think a bit more about how the novel would be produced as a movie (not that it ever would be) and how that would affect the story I’m telling.

There are of course other differences.  The format, the amount of prose versus the amount of dialogue, the RITA vs. the Streamy, etc… but all in all, I find that storytelling is storytelling.  And I hope you’re enjoying The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as much as I am… and anticipate the arrival of the next novel Let it Be Me, as well!

Until next time sweets – Happy reading/viewing!