July 5, 2012
When you’re creating a screenplay, you don’t have time for long drawn out descriptions. You have to be economical with your words but they still have to convey an image. I took a step back from writing today to really focus on my writing style, my overall grammar, my usage of white space and more.
I came to the conclusion that the language of my screenplay can and certainly must be more interesting than it is. I’m happy with my action thus far in terms of story but I also want my script to be an entertaining and clever read. Clever is the operative word here.
One of my favorite screenwriting books is How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make by Denny Martin Flinn.
In the introduction, Flinn writes:
“I didn’t write this because I can write screenplays. I wrote this because I have read tons of them. I came to understand that while all good screenplays are unique, all bad screenplays are the same.”
I’ve always like that quote. You have to set yourself apart from the thousands of scripts out there looking for a good home. Your story might be spectacular but screenwriting is also about skillful technique, precise structure and well crafted prose and dialogue.
Writing a good story is not good enough if the language and grammar isn’t up to the same level. The language of my screenplay needs work. I can admit to it. The trick is improving.
I’m not planning on rewriting a ton of stuff until I get my first draft done but I’ve already started thinking about how I can describe things better. I’m thinking about my choice of words. I’m thinking about repetitive words or similar sentences. It HAS to be better. In doing so, I’ll become a better writer and evolve my own style of screenwriting.
I’m completely wrapped up in a new screenplay now and I can already see that the lessons I learned throughout the summer paid off. The new pages are economical in terms of word count but it’s still interesting. Reading this post again got me thinking about a cycle I hope continues forever. What if I get 80-90 pages in and realize the language of my screenplay still needs work? I’m actually hoping that happens. Every screenplay should make you a better writer. There should always be progression. There will always be new challenges.