Vance, Vance, Vance. If producers
were looking for screenplays that look like novels,
they’d buy novels. True, it is nice to read flowing, descriptive,
pleasant-to-the-senses words in a description as it sets
the scene up. Being
someone who reads many screenplays, I recognize and
appreciate wordsmiths (which are like blacksmiths
except, instead of horseshoes and other metallic things,
wordsmiths forge words), but I’ve passed on many of
the “nicest written scripts I’ve ever
I’m glad you asked.
Because well-written, lyrical, poignant,
extremely well-written, even poetic description does not
a good screenplay make.
(I reversed a few words so as to appear rather
classical and poetic.
But reversing a few words does not a good classic
poet make. Or
something poetic and lyrical like that.
Being lyrical and poetic does not – Okay, okay.
I get it; I get it!)
There’s so much more to a
screenplay than good description.
Sharp, engaging, deeply-meaningful, nuance-filled
dialogue is a must.
And there’s a lot of talking in a movie. Unless you’re watching “Quest for Fire” (which still
had a lot of grunts) or “One Million B.C.” (another
grunt fest). But let’s not put down the screenwriters of the
aforementioned (I guess I could have said “atwomentioned”)
scripts just because they didn’t have a lot of words
to write in the dialogue. How do we know what painstaking effort they made to put in
just the right “ugggh”’s and “arrrrr”’s.
And then, in addition to dialogue, you’re going
to need excellent plot, characters, tone, pace,
character development, transformative arcs (I think Noah
built one of those), and a whole lot of other stuff that
doesn’t have diddly to do with flowery, expressive
words describing a sunset or a sunrise or just the sun
or the moon or anything else that people like to
describe with flowery words.
Including flowers (which can really bore me in a
script, in case you wanted to know).
Don’t let other writers define
who you are. (Unless
you write to one of them and ask them to define you.
I think they charge for that.) Find your own
laughed at Hemingway.
(At least, I think they did.
Or was it me?
I have a tendency to laugh at short sentences.
I know; it’s a curse.) T.S. Elliot had his own
a guy named, “William Shakespeare” some say was kind
of unique. (I
think he was a bit too much, always rhyming and showing
off what a command of the English language he had.
Big deal. And,
while we’re on the subject, not to be petty, but I
think Hamlet should have just married Lady MacBeth so
the merry wives of Windsor could finally tell Romeo that
Puck was not dead but just sleeping with the three
hope I didn’t give anything away.)
What I’m trying to say (in my own
inimitable style – which most people don’t like,
which gets me to thinking that I just might quit writing
altogether), is write the way you want to write.
Let your own unique way you write come out as you
continue to master the form of screenwriting.
And here’s something that might
help you remember:
screenwriting; not screenrighting.