Looking at Your Film: A screenplay is not a novel

A spec screenplay vs a production screenplay.
Image via Wikipedia

Looking at Your Film:  A screenplay is not a novel

Many beginning writers who have studied creative writing try their hand at writing a screenplay.  In the process, they often carry over conventions from narrative fiction that do not work in a screenplay.

A screenplay is visual and auditory.  Make a circle with the thumb and forefinger of both hands.  Hold the circle up to your eye.  That is what you see in a screenplay.  You do not know the protagonist’s thoughts.  You do no know the antagonist’s scheme.  You cannot tell us that Danny is thinking of the green hills of home and the girl he left behind, or that Lucinda is remembering her Mamma’s pasta.

The tools you have to tell your story are action and dialogue.

Double check your scenes as you are writing to make certain you have shown us action and dialogue and have not told us what a character is thinking or what happened to them in the past.  Just one of these telling slips in your script will result in the entire script being tossed.

I know some experienced writers are going to give me some flack about this being a fluff piece, but the truth is, when I read and analyze scripts from beginning writers,  many people do not understand this “obvious” element to screenwriting.  Best to know now before you submit your script.

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