GET REPPED NOW!is on the horizon once again (3/13 through 5/15) and we really want you guys to do well. Here again is our weekly column of screenwriting tips.
Today, let’s talk about…
Writing Slick Scene Descriptions
This is a great place to show off your voice, but never forget that screenplays are judged, in part, on their terseness and brevity. How few words can you use to say something? Here is your mission, if you chose to accept it: show your wit, spark and creativity, but do so with great efficiency and economy of words.
First order of business: delete some verbs from your vocabulary—like “walk” and “talk”. Pretend they never existed; forget you once knew them. Why? They are bland and boring and they don’t tell us anything. Don’t believe me?
Here is what NOT to do:
Peter is tired and confused. He walks into the room and sits down on the couch while he talks to nobody in particular.
Bland and boring, right? How about this:
Peter slumps into the room, collapses on the couch and grouses under his breath.
More descriptive, less boring, fewer words. And we’ve substituted the more interesting and evocative “slumps” and “grouses” for “walks” and “talks.”
Another common mistake is to overdescribe environments. The reader doesn’t need the details of every piece of furniture in a room or every single item on a desk. We’ve all been inside churches, pizzerias, coffee shops, etc., so there’s no need to waste time describing these places unless there is something noteworthy or atypical about them.
Just give us a flavor: the ‘50s-inspired coffee shop, the hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that only sells slices; the church whose stained glass windows have seen better days. Comment on something that makes the scene unusual from what we expect. For example,
EXT. PIZZA JOINT – DAY
New York pizza by the slice. Going out of business sign in the window.
Remember: brevity is the soul of wit.
As you already know, we’re always here for questions (and the answers are free). [email protected]