Monday, February 20, 2017

Scene Description Spotlight: Express Your Voice

On February 27, I’ll be offering a terrific one-week online class. It’s called Scene Description Spotlight which sounds super practical. And in a way, it is because at one level, it’s an immersion into the nuts and bolts of the writing craft. However what it’s really about is this: Exploring and expressing your voice as a writer.

You hear this over and over and over again in Hollywood development circles. Agents, managers, producers, execs, talent. All looking for writers with distinctive voices.

If you think voice just means character dialogue… think again. Voice also involves scene description. You know, that boring stuff you write to set up and play out a scene.

Over the years, professional screenwriters have learned to use scene description as a way to create strong visuals… convey mood… entertain the reader… and express their voice. Like this from The Matrix:

The Big Cop flicks out his cuffs, the other cops holding a
bead. They've done this a hundred times, they know
they've got her, until the Big Cop reaches with the cuffs
and Trinity moves --
It almost doesn't register, so smooth and fast, inhumanly
fast.
The eye blinks and Trinity's palm snaps up and his nose
explodes, blood erupting. Her leg kicks with the force of
a wrecking ball and he flies back, a two-hundred-fifty
pound sack of limp meat and bone that slams into the cop
farthest from her.

Or this from Wall-E:

It hovers gracefully above the ground.
White. Egg-shaped.
Blue-lit eyes.
Female.
Eve.
Wally is transfixed.
Inches closer.
Watches Eve from behind the device.
Tilts his head.
Time stops.
She's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.

Or this from Little Miss Sunshine:

No one knows what to make of Olive rocking, her back turned.
However, when the first verse begins, Olive turns and 
strides up on the stage -- hands on hips, shoulders swinging
-- with an absolute and spectacular physical self-confidence.
She rocks out, busting crazy moves this stage has never seen: 
shakes, shimmies, twirls, dips, undulations -- a melange of
MTV rump shakin', Solid Gold Dancers re-runs, and
out-of-left-field inventions of her own. Other moves are
clearly drawn from Grandpa's sixty-year career of strip-bar
patronage.
She dances with a total command -- an exuberant, even witty 
mastery of her body, the music, the moves, everything.
Most of all, she's doing it for herself -- for her own sense 
of fun -- and the judges are instantly irrelevant.
The audience is stunned. No one moves. Mouths hang open.

In my 1-week Scene Description Spotlight class, you will learn about:

  • How Genre + Style = Narrative Voice
  • The crucial importance of ‘editorializing’
  • Using tempo and pace to make scenes spark to life
  • The freedom screenwriters have to break grammatical rules
  • Directing action through line management
  • Imagematic, psychological, and action writing

And much, much more!

The class includes dozens of examples from notable movie scripts as well as some of the most recent selling spec scripts to give you a clear sense of how to use scene description to give expression to your voice and make your script worthy of one of Hollywood’s highest compliments: It’s a good read.

I’m really excited about this class and you should be, too. Take something as seemingly simple and mundane as scene description… and use it to show off your voice.

To learn more and enroll, go here.

The class begins Monday, February 27. As always, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

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Scene Description Spotlight: Express Your Voice was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

Scene Description Spotlight: Express Your Voice

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