Patterns Of Screen Writing/Introduction

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Intended Audience

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The intended audience of this text is primarily authors interested in screenwriting. It would also prove useful to any aspiring storytellerstoryteller, whether she is writing a novella or he is preparing an important presentation. The text attempts to covers all aspects of story development for screenwriting. The rationale is to break down story to its constituents elements and explain how each should be put together most effectively. In this way we treat planning, selection of structure, matching action to the character. The craft of writing, rewriting are also covered, how to evoking emotionsevoking emotions and how to deliver a message while entertaining the audience. At the highest level of storytelling the writer is able to control all these elements and deliver a quality product within a tight schedule.


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The book has much to offer both beginner and experienced writers alike. Most screenwriting techniques can be adapted to other media once the difference each is understood. These can be the traditional forms like a short story, a novella or theatrical play. It can also arise in less traditional settings like a computer game; a business presentation or an animated commercial. As media, diverge underlying assumptions may change. In screenwriting, storytelling is principally visual.

Visual Storytelling

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Visual storytelling has subtle restrictions dictated by the media of film. The advice most commonly heard by new screenwriters is "show, don’t tell". This means dramatizing any aspect of the story that is not already in the action. The difficulty is to use the available devices to illuminate a character's inner world. You might consider using a disembodied voice to instruct the audience of some thought going in the heroine's mind using voice over narrationnarration? This might be possible but there are other techniques possible. In a movie, the eye assimilates 90% of the information and the ear the other 10%. For the stage, the assimilation of information reverses. This is the root of most difficulties adapting problems faced in adapting plays to the screen. Even the outstanding to dialogue dialogue and monologues quickly become artificial and tiresome without visual action that the eye expects. The problem does not end here. A single talking head alone on-screen has very limited visual possibilities. The eye exhausts the visual information in a good shot in two seconds after which it will start to wonder. Few actors can deliver their narration as effectively as Woody Allen [P 1] the standup comedian; screenwriter; actor director . When speaking off-screen his expressiveness diminishes, his dialogue loses its subtext and soon his audience grows restless. When less gifted actors deliver his narrations, the effect is disastrous. Show, don’t tell. The stringent requirements of visual storytelling do not bind other prose writers. They can freely enlist metaphor; listen in on a character's inner voice and shape structures of complexity that is unworkable into 120 pages120 pages of a screenplay. This is not a place to analyze the differences of each media. It appears that the discipline and economy of screenwriting will benefit to any creative writer. Even with the differences in media, most of the patterns would serve any storyteller. Where medium specific aspects of film making are encountered they will be accompanied by this icon





  1. Woody Allen