Chat Script/Script Format

Recently I came across a person on the FP blog that believes that script format should be allowed because "its really unfair how writers are getting bashed because their writing in a different way" and because they "actually find script styled stories easy to read". But is this what is really going on here? Well, I have seen a few cases where someone writing in script format has been told that they aren't writing in a legitimate format. By that I don't mean the statements saying that the format isn't allowed, but saying that script format is not a legitimate form of writing. It actually is a legitimate and recognized form of writing. So is chat format to tell you the truth, but then why is it not allowed if they are both a legitimate format of writing.

The first thing I am going to bring up is the fact that chat format was not considered to a legitimate way to tell a story until recently. Novels with chat script in them are fighting an up hill battle to become accepted as legit by some of the more up tight publishers, writers and readers out there. When chat script was first banned, it was banned way before chat script was even considered legitimate for writing purposes. Now, you may be thinking, since the form is now considered legit we just need to send in examples of these novels to the site admins for our stories to be allowed again, right? Wrong, and for two reasons.

The first reason comes from the fact very, very few stories survive on dialog alone. The characters have no voice or personality and/or the conversations are overly basic and hold no interest for the reader. Even stories that have a limited amount of description in them fail for the very same reasons. What does this have to do with chat format? Chat format is just dialog and if you go and look at the actual novels that have chat format in them they will likely have regular storytelling format in between the conversations as well, so it can be said that they don't try surviving on using chat format alone. And yet many, many of the stories you find written in chat format in fact try surviving on dialog alone.

To quote Jordan Lapp of Every Day Fiction from his article on "Thoughts on Dialogue-Only Flash Fiction"... "With dialogue-only stories, you're basically saying as a writer that you're so good at writing dialogue that you don't need all that mundane stuff like description, setting, and plot. You can do it all in the spoken word." Is the writing of chat format, and in turn script format really that good? Well, some proponents for removing the rule that doesn't allow either format feel that yes, the writers using such format are good enough for their stories to survive without the extra stuff being added in. Well, a good deal of us who read the stories beg to differ. Most of the writers tackling this don't even know or understand what they are getting themselves into.

But there is one other factor when it comes to chat script which writers don't stop and think about. The site's formatting options are limited compared to the formatting options one has for chat format stories. When chat format is used, a different style font is used, the back is grayed out, the whole thing is indented and it jumps out at the reader as being different. You can't do this on FP or FF, which defeats one of the charms of writing in chat format, the fact that it is a very visual medium to be working with. But that of course goes over the heads of some writers, that their medium isn't just written words, its meant to be visualized at the same time.

Script format is honestly another format that is supposed to in the long run end up in a visualized format by the time everything is said or done. If it isn't in a visualized format, then its being converted into story format. Many people writing in script format think of it as just an easy way to write something and to slap a story out, they don't stop and think about what the intent and purpose of script format is supposed to be. It's not simply another way to tell a story like so many of them think, which is where one of the aggravations comes in for those who are against script format being allowed again. The people using it don't seem to respect the format in the first place.

Speaking of format, most of the people writing in said format don't even write in the correct format. I'm actually not talking about how these people separate a characters name from the dialog using a ":" rather then having the characters name and then on the next line the characters line. I'm referring to things like stage directions/action lines and parenthetical. Don't know what I'm talking about here or why they are important? If your not willing to look them up and do a bit of research into script format then I highly suggest not writing in script format at all. If you really cared about script format as a legitimate form of writing you'd at least do your research, right? But most writers don't.

There is also the issue that while a script is a legitimate form of telling a story, it is never the finished piece. Some people are going "wait a second, but it contains all of the story elements that are needed for a story". A well written script does in fact contain all of the elements, but many of the ones posted to either site are lacking in the setting department. It's not a finished product though because it is meant as I said to eventually be visualized, not just left as just a script. So what reason then is there for writing your story in script format?

One of the arguments is that the writer and reader can easily imagine that the stories in script format are in fact playing out on a big screen in their heads. This actually bothers me, because you're supposed to be able to do this with the regular format as well. Which ties in really to another argument I've seen made. The fandom was originally a television show, or some similar medium the writer says that they have to write in script format because that's how the original fandom was. This tells me that the writer is unable to think outside of the box, which is where I think a lot of this pandering to write in script format or chat format is coming from. The writer is unable to think outside of the box and they're limiting their own selves.

Some like to argue that writing in script format versus is an issue of creative freedom, but I don't see it this way. It doesn't make a work funnier, no... it really doesn't add anything to the work that a written piece couldn't do. It's possible to break the forth wall in regular writing just as easily as it is in script writing and say that so and so enter from stage right or stage left. I see it as the writer asking for the freedom to slap words together in any manner they want without any rules or criticisms. What's really sad is that many of them don't realize that they're only letting script format limit them in what they can do. A lot of the ones writing in script format also only do it because they think writing in script format is easier and they can slap it together quicker and get reviews quicker.

Now, some people may be thinking, "this writer doesn't know what it is like to write in script format, so why should I listen to her". I actually have written in script format before, so I know how hard it is to work with real script format and come up with a decent piece. Because I've written these pieces I find myself wondering what the point of writing a script is unless you plan on continuing to the next stage or finding someone who can do it for you. On top of this, most of the script writing that I've come across is horrible. I know a lot of people tell me they've read some really good script formatted stories, but honestly... I'm left wondering if they actually know what a well written one entails. Particularly when I've seen some of the comments left after someone leaves a review on a rule breaking fanfic telling the writer their story is so amazing when in reality... it isn't.

Don't get me wrong here, its not impossible for there to be one or two well written stories in script format, but honestly there is no where near as many as those who support the removal of the rule make it out to be.