Short And Sweet
I’m fortunate enough to have two friends named Donna. Curiously, they both share a trait: they get straight to the point — no padded sentences or beating around the bush.
I love it. You always know where you stand and it saves a ton of time. As screenwriters we should follow their lead — especially when it comes to scene description.
Keep It Simple
Donna #1 (we’ve known each other since we were 5) used to work with me at a municipal hall. She was a switchboard operator/receptionist, and I was always amazed at her talent for offering concise directions to the public.
One day I filled in for her at the front desk. People routinely asked, “Where do I pay my water bill?”
Trying to be as helpful as I could, I responded with something like:
“Head towards those glass doors. Once you go through, cross to the staircase. Walk down the stairs, and when you reach the bottom, turn to your right. Look for the sign that says, ‘Finance Department.’ Go to that counter and someone will help you.”
When Donna came back, I was curious to see how she handled that same question. The response she used was:
“Through those doors, down the stairs, on your right.”
Bam. So much shorter, and so much easier to grasp.
What About Making It Enjoyable?
Trust me, when you’re reading tons of scripts, brevity = enjoyment.
Script readers, like those people paying their water bill, want to know just enough information to get them from point A to point B. Don’t overdo it with micro-description and extraneous detail. In a screenplay, it will weigh your story and audience down.
Throw in just enough creative flare to accentuate the genre of your script in a unique way, then move on.
Keep it short and sweet. Be like Donna.
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