Watch your words: Visit a set and read your script aloud

Every scriptwriter should visit a set. You will learn that a great deal of work goes into bringing your story alive. You will experience long hours, actors with incredible durability, directors with patience, crew who do their jobs and some who don’t. Overall you will have a feeling of how very many people are involved in bringing a story to the screen.

That girl who is dead for about 4 minutes on the screen? She spent four hours in the blazing sun and heat lying on the ground in direct sunlight holding her breath and not moving…over and over again. Each take the director wants someone to move faster, someone else to look at the cell phone longer, and someone else to slow down as they move over the dead girl.

The five lines of dialogue? They are repeated over and over with each take. A good time to read your script aloud is after the first draft. You will hear places where the story clunks long before it gets to a crew.

A visit to the set will demonstrate how each line of dialogue is important. It will also demonstrate a line of dialogue that doesn’t make sense, is too long, or is unnecessary.

Each writer learns different elements while visiting a set. The visit will help you visualize how your story unfolds as it is made. The visit will make you conscious of dialogue and conscious of action descriptions. Essentially you will learn to make every word count. No extras.

Each line of dialogue drives the story forward.

Each action moves not just the characters but the story.

I was fortunate to have a friend who is a director who invited me on the set. I plan to spend more time on location. I encourage you, especially if you have never been on set for a shoot, to find a way to visit. The time spent will help your writing.

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