Communicating Images While Economising Words

Waterfall                          VERSUS             

I begun the unnerving task of writing my first, feature-length screenplay – Downward Mobility – recently. Months of planning, treatments, pitches and character profiles behind me, I now begin at the start line as it were!

The story has been carved out, it just needs a gentle sanding . However, I am now charged with the mammoth, albeit enjoyable,  task of communicating that story for producers, actors and directors to interpret. Remarkably, I’m discovering that the most difficult undertaking is capturing the economic-simplicity of a screenplay.

In a novel or short story, one has the luxury of words and besides they are the very essence of the story. Each word is carefully chosen and relevant. To put it simply, they are the story!

Screenwriting – in my experience – does not afford the same luxury. If one examines a well written script, it is admirable due to the absence of words as oppose to the presence of them. You’re requirement is to communicate only the necessities of character’s actions and setting to tell your story. In many ways then, I suppose the great art in writing a great screenplay is boiling down your story to it’s very essence.

This – in theory – is a reasonably modest ask. However, I find that when I am writing the images burn hot and vivid in my consciousness. Naturally, I want to communicate my vision to the reader. However, a great screenwriter’s talent is to achieve this while economising on words. This is the first challenge I need to rise to as a screenwriter.


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