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Creative Writing 102: The Screenplay - Blending Screenwriting with Literary Theory


Creative Writing 102 articles are a continuation of the previous Creative Writing 101 series and serve as one of the academic courses in the field of Creative Writing Studies and Literary Theory. The course, which is a fundamental guide within the scope of general knowledge compared to the technical knowledge of Creative Writing Studies and Literary Theory, also addresses students and the general readership alike. With this goal in mind, the author has opted to write the article in very plain and basic English to convey just the necessary understanding of Creative Writing by making the article merely an introduction.

Creative Writing 102 is mainly divided into five chapters including:

  1. The Screenplay - Blending Screenwriting with Literary Theory

  2. In the Realm of Travel Writing - Immortalizing Stories in Nonfiction

  3. The Digitalization of Creative Writing Through Video Games

  4. Critical Theory - The (Im)possibility of Application

  5. Unraveling Creativity and Humor in Comedians' Personalities

[A selection of books about screenwriting]

Working on a script is far from being a simple task as it involves a lot of rewriting to help the screenwriter “work within somebody else’s vision and expand it”, confesses screenwriter Robert Towne in an interview with Jack Epps, Jr. This article investigates the screenplay in terms of Roland Barthes’ interpretation of ‘text’ and ‘work’ and depicts the types of screenplay readers and "narrating voices" within a script from a literary perspective.

Roland Barthes and the Screenplay: a ‘text’ or a ‘work’?

In an attempt to grasp the screenplay as a "screenwork", Macdonald (2013) refers to the British film composer Steven Price's understanding of the screenplay as a complex work straddling "literature" and "the moving image". Price's perception of the screenplay is based on an interaction between elements, such as "dramatic structure, image, sound, performance, action, dialogue and on-screen language", all working at the same time. Hence, the screenplay can be analyzed from a literary perspective, adopting Barthes' idea regarding the difference between a ‘work’ and a ‘text’. In the Barthesian philosophy, the ‘work’ and the ‘text’ are two distinct notions. The former is characterized as “fixed”, “discoverable”, in the process of “being created by an author”, and “consumed by the reader”, leaving the screenplay as a finished ‘work‘.