I have spent a considerable amount of time in the past talking about what I like to call the screenplay method. Because I'm a concise writer - I like to get to the point fast - screenwriting and me get along pretty darn good. I have implemented screenwriting methods into all of my writing, and my stories have definitely benefited from it. Screenwriting is all about telling your story in the most direct way possible. All of the emotion is basically sheared off, because it's up to the actor to portray the emotion right. It's not your job to describe everything the character feels. For example, this is what an emotional scene in a spec screenplay would look like (spec meaning speculative, in that you're writing it with the intention of selling it): 

Jean 
              I thought I could trust him. 
              (wipes away tears) 
              I really did. 

Jean walks to the door. Picks up her purse. Leaves. Nothing is left but an empty room full of dust and shadows. 

This is a considerably different approach than what we're all used to and enjoy reading:

Jean sat on the couch, sobs wracking her body. She felt shattered. Utterly destroyed. Who knew betrayal could hurt this much? 
"I thought I could trust him," she murmured. "I really did." 
After several hours of torturing herself with thoughts of what could have been, she picked herself up, snapped her purse together and walked to the door. The house was lonely in the evening shadows. Dust spiraled through the air. At last, gathering herself, she left. 
And she didn't come back. 

Writers depend on description to make readers feel emotion, while screenwriters depend on actors to make audiences feel emotion. In actuality, there is a perfect balance between the two methods. You don't want to overdo it with too much description, and you don't want to under-do it with not enough. You want to walk the line between the two approaches. Emotion is everything. We as writers want our readers to feel sympathy for our main characters, and disgust towards the villains. We want to build a realistic story world, and in actuality, we should start by describing things the way real people would. 

For example, if you walk outside and observe blue skies, a pleasant breeze, blooming roses and a lazy cat lounging on the fence, you take all of this information in without uttering a word. You feel your surroundings. And then you transfer those feelings onto paper. But those feelings shouldn't become anything more than a loudspeaker for your brain. In other words, keep it short and simple, just like your mind does. Don't over think it - your brain doesn't! Your mind is thinking, Wow, this is a beautiful day. Look at those blue skies. Check out the temperature. And that cat - doesn't he have a life outside of sitting on my fence? 
Boom. This is reality. 
We all observe quickly because society moves fast. Our observations are built on personal assumptions and likes or dislikes, and those quirks will be what makes your characters unique. Tell it like it is. Don't try to get too literary or descriptive. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it real. 
Your talent will ring truest and loudest when reality is transferred to paper.   



Post a Comment

  1. Great post, Summer. Here's to telling it like it is! :D

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  2. I write shorter e-books. I like to get to the action.

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    1. Awesome!! I love those kinds of books! :)

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  3. I *heart* this approach to storytelling, Summer. Thanks for spelling it out so brilliantly :-)

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  4. I was beta reading a book the other day that read like a movie. It was all action and dialogue, but unlike a movie, the characters were showing no emotion and the writer forgot to allow the reader into their heads.

    Thanks for the great post, Summer.

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    1. Action and dialogue show movement, but we need some sprinkling of description too, to even that out. It's not easy finding that balance! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Wow. This is written so good! And it makes lot of sense :) Thank you ;) <3

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  6. Great post, Summer! I wish I knew more about screenwriting (other than reading Save the Cat!) lol Maybe someday I'll take an online class just to learn more about it ;)

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    1. It's absolutely fascinating - you would love it. It's really helpful for anybody interesting in writing, novelists, magazine writers. Everybody! :)

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  7. Hey, this is a GREAT reminder. It certainly lends a better immediacy to a piece of writing. :)

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