Saturday, July 17, 2010

Drama is Action

Thanks to you, my wonderful readers, for your patience as I grieved (and still do so) the passing of my sister, Tracey. If I know Tracey at all, she’d be severely upset with me for not posting another blog entry sooner, and about screenwriting. SO! Here you go!

I read in a fantabulous book called “Essentials of Screenwriting” by Richard Walter that “drama is action.”

“Well, duh!” you say. But let me ask you. How many times have you seen a bunch of characters sitting around talking about nothing that advances your movie plot? It’s the lull in the movie where folks go to the bathroom and get more popcorn. Or worse.

If you have a script with that kind of scene in it, cut it out NOW. If you’re going to have a scene with people gabbing, it better darn well advance your plot. You can’t be precious about your script. By that I mean, if you write a kickin’ dialogue that you love; it really doesn’t help your plot but you still keep it in there. Why? Because you like it.

It’s not what you like that will sell your screenplay.

Your plot must always be moving, always be pushing ahead. By doing so, your reader will gladly follow and that is exactly what you want.

Again from the book mentioned above, the author states (and quite accurately):

“Screenwriters are required, therefore, to determine for each scene the action that most effectively advances the story and expands the characters and also to craft the ideal setting for that action.”

As a screenwriter, we can’t hope the reader will ‘understand’ what we’re hoping to convey. We must show them. Readers don’t have time to try and decipher. That’s what the grand round circular file is for, and I really don’t think that was the action, the drama, you wanted for your script, now was it?

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