Photo via Go Into the Story.
A script is a story that will be told with images. It feels like that goes without saying, but spec scripts are so often crushed under the weight of their own dialogue that it bears repeating.
Meaningful images are revealing, memorable, interesting to read, and space saving. To rewrite for visuals, consider:
- Location. If it isn’t already, make the landscape integral to the story. Good settings provide natural obstacles, conflicts, and subtext. A textureless or interchangeable backdrop is usually a missed opportunity.
- The Mute Button. Static talking scenes have their place, but most of them are completely unnecessary. Hit the mute button on your talking scenes and design a visual expression of the same idea for amazing results. Show actions rather than conversations about actions.
- A Bowl of Green Apples. Still-life descriptions bog down the read. The difference between a trivial image and a meaningful one comes down to story. Does that bowl of green apples on the counter ever amount to anything? Description is best used for revealing details, preferably active ones. If your character arranges those green apples five times in that bowl while the baby cries upstairs, that is a revealing, meaningful bowl of green apples.
— ANNIE LABARBA (@annelabarba)
Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.
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