I believe writers are word engineers. They service many disciplines, use specialized techniques and can produce a large variety of materials.
Yet a hard-nosed newspaper reporter may not have developed the ability of a writer who produces content for flowery greeting cards or suggestive advertising on Madison Avenue.
A light bulb went on in my head when an author friend of mine once said, "I like writing novels more than screenplays since I'm verbose."
Here's an example. Let's say you want to describe a tropical island that shipwrecked pirates see while rowing toward it.
In a novel, it could be:
Two pirates on oars, a third one sick in the back, steady themselves as unrelenting waves beat their wooden boat. The harsh wind sweeps off the turquoise water and kicks up a fuss. The pirates struggle to make it ashore, to the tanned sand and abundant foliage outlining the beach. Overseeing everything from above, palm trees sway, some let go of their fronds.
Now how about this for a screenplay:
EXT. ROW BOAT (MOVING) - DAY
Two pirates row against tropical wind and water. A third moans in the back, dead weight. Up ahead, the pristine island. Beauty.
You may or may not agree with my picture. My goal is that you notice the brevity of the screenplay format vs. the novel.
Allow actors to quickly grasp the concept so they don't have to wade through all the words.
© 2013 Jacob Kamhis All Rights Reserved