THE FINAL POLISH
is a thin line between efficiency and eloquence. An
easy-to-read style might not elevate a terrible script
into a great one, but a cumbersome read can all but
ruin a good story. Many execs don't have
(and probably shouldn't have) the skill to see
through the rough to find the diamond.
The skills of writing and storytelling are very different. But when you are done
with your storytelling, the last polish must hone the language. Nothing
can detract from the read; and that includes typos, grammatical mistakes or so
much as a wasted word. If your story is brilliant, but your action-description
is clunky, then hire a proofreader/ editor. At the very basic level, a proofreader/editor
can catch typos and awkward phrasings. At the more advanced level, he/she can
suggest rewording that uses active verbs, which more accurately and succinctly
convey your intent.
Here are some tips to help with
that final polish:
1) Use action verbs instead of
He runs fast.
She hits him hard.
He bolts. She slams him.
You save words.
2) Use active voice instead of
He is hit with
the football. He is taken away
The football hits him. Henchman#1
takes her away.
We lose up to 33% of the words.
3) Kill your widows.
When there is only a word or two
on a line of action description,
those words that are there by
themselves are called widows.
If you tighten up the action description,
so that you never start a new
line for just 2-3 words, you can
tighten your script up to 5 pages.
4) Watch redundancy and redundancyin
general, you always want to find
the most efficient wayusually
with an actionto convey
your intent. Consider these two
Sally is worried.
She loses her smile.
Why not cut the first sentence?
5) Dont use a lot of words
to describe the details of insignificant
Trying to regain
his balance, Mike walks wobbly
across the room.
From Mikes POV, the walls
seem to throb. He stutter-steps,
a breath, then proceeds to grip
the doorknob and manages to open
Mike wobbles out the door.
you submit your screenplay to producers and managers,
make sure its presentation is flawless.