1. CH878

    CH878 Active Member

    May 24, 2011
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    Scripts - Describing action

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CH878, Feb 2, 2012.

    Recently I've been doing a reasonably amount of research into script writing, as it's an area I'm interested in.

    However, I can't quite work out how to describe action.

    Sometimes it seems to be very matter of fact, short sentences and very basic imagery, at others it's much more like prose in novels.

    Then, I read a script the other day which had something like this in it:

    "Jake launches himself out of the wheelchair and proceeds to beat the crap out of the guy"

    Is this sort of thing normal?

    I won't name the film, but it's a hugely successful one, and I'm not sure it was definitely an official screenplay, because there were discrepancies between it and the released feature film (could have been an earlier draft), but the use of such an informal phrase in the description seems to go against what I've seen in other places, though I confess to not having read enough screenplays yet.

    Basically, are there any set rules for writing description in screenplays, or does anything go so long as it gets the point across and isn't overly long?

    Many thanks.
  2. Inspired writer

    Inspired writer Member

    Jan 25, 2012
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    east midlands
    You're absolutely right about the script plays. They should be short, directive and to the point. Hence the name 'stage directions'. Well that's how I remembered them.
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, you'll find a range of wrting styles among scripts that have been produced, because some will be first or early drafts, some may be the writer's final draft, and others will be shooting scripts, or the director's script...

    but you're not likely to find any that were spec scripts by new and unknown writers... so, unless you're an established screenwriter, you'll need to keep your spec scripts 'lean and clean' and not emulate the style of any of the pros...

    action should be written in simple declarative present tense, with detail kept to a minimum as much as possible... don't step on the director's toes... and do NOT include any editing or camera directions!

    and btw, 'stage directions' is a theater term, not used in filmmaking... at least not in hollywood, though things may be a bit different in the uk film industry...

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