Writing About the Invisible for a Visual Medium

Your job as a screenwriter is to show, show, show.  You’ve heard it a million times.  But your goal as a writer is to get the reader/audience to feel, feel, feel.

I encourage you to watch and read scripts of films that truly have moved you—cried, got angry, laughed ’til your sides hurt, felt anguish. Take note of what pulled these emotions out of you.

I think you will discover some consistencies among the films:

  1. Subtext What this really is: characters miscommunication with each other.  Your job as a writer is to let the reader/audience know the miscommunication.
  2. Mention the problem – show the character in action
    1. The character does not mention the problem, just deals with it
    2. Have another character remark on the character’s behavior.  That character may respond
      1. Verbally or not
      2. With action or not

Just as every scene must move the story forward, every scene must show your reader/audience what part of himself the character reveals and what part he keeps to himself.

To make this work you need to combine craft and art. Many stories that do not move you have the craft alone.  The art is to make the emotion exhibit in the story without telling.

You may want to try the exercise with two films that do this well:

Eastern Promises


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