From years of working with aspiring screenwriters and helping them get their scripts produced, one glaring weakness has become clear to me – most beginning writers don’t pay enough attention to their narrative, the description of action and setting.
This is usually the last thing a professional screenwriter learns on his way to commercial success. First the beginning screenwriter usually grasps an understanding of structure, then character development and a good understanding of writing snappy dialogue and the ability to construct a scene.
But few screenwriters understand just how critical it is to grab the reader’s attention with narrative that has style and pulses with energy.
You will see this talent in the screenplays of all the great screenwriters working today, like Tony Gilroy who wrote the Bourne movies and Michael Clayton. It is the defining mark of the consummate professional.
These successful screenwriters pay as much attention to the craft of their narrative as they do to the finesse of their dialogue.
This trend really started more than two decades ago when Shane Black began to write screenplays like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. The prose of his scripts had real edge and style and it was a revelation to the buyers at that time. As a result, it wasn’t unusual for Shane Black’s original screenplays to be sold for more than a million dollars.
As someone who reads a lot of screenplays for a living, I can instantly tell in one or two pages if I’m in the hands of a professional screenwriter or not – and believe me, I’m not alone. How do I do that? Because I can instantly gauge the skill the screenwriter uses to craft his or her narrative.
Is the narrative written with style and pacing? Is there a conscious display of clever word usage? Does it capture the genre of the story? Is there a rhythm to the writing? Is it visual and does it capture the scene without being too wordy?
There are many tips and tricks that professionals employ to make their narrative jump off the page. Please join me for my webinar, Make Your Film Narrative Pulse with Energy & Create a GREAT Read.
Even if you are unable to attend the live event, as long as you register in advance, a recording will be emailed to you, allowing you to listen at any time. I will give many examples of how to employ those skills in making you a complete screenwriter, helping your screenplays rise to the top when scrutinized by readers, producers and buyers.
Glenn M. Benest is an award-winning writing producer with seven produced screenplays, including two that were directed by Wes Craven. His independent film, HUNGRY HEARTS, was nominated for numerous awards at film festivals throughout the country and is being distributed internationally by Shoreline Entertainment. Mr. Benest is a celebrated lecturer and instructor and his professional screenwriting workshops have launched five feature films, including SCREAM and EVENT HORIZON.
Screenwriting Webinar from The Writers Store
At a Glance:
- Discover the tools you need to write exciting narrative—narrative makes your writing “pop”
- Uncover secrets of the trade that only seasoned professionals learn over numerous years
- Learn how to make your screenplays stand out from the crowd