How 2 Write Screenplay Direction

Anything in your movie script that isn't dialogue,character names, scene headings or title page is direction. Without direction, your screenplay would simply be dialogue and the adage, 'Show, don't tell' would go out of the window.

Direction is vital to describe setting, mood and action. It's quite easy to write your direction in the same style you normally write but here's a tip. If your writing is full of feeling and interesting turn of phrase, keep that out of your direction as much as possible. There's a very simple reason for this which will make your movie script much stronger.

It can be very useful to have one or two examples of interesting language, fantastic metaphor or beautiful description in your direction to reward the reader. But remember that the reader is the only person who gets the benefit of your amazing prose when it's in direction.

The tip is to save it all for the dialogue. That way your audience benefits from it. But remember that your characters have to sound natural (within their surroundings) and act within character (until pushed by circumstances to act out of character and reveal their true character).

So, if your gritty detective story needs worldly-wise gumshoes on the case, your dialogue can be full of wisecracks and pithy dialogue. For a modern take on the Raymond Chandler, Humphrey Bogard style PI story, check out 'Brick' and listen carefully to the dialogue. 

Read lots of screenplays and see how the direction is as efficient and descriptive as possible to keep the story moving. It's job is a simple one - it has to guide the story through from scene to scene.

But remember that taking your script to the big screen involves a lot of work such as finding locations.  A richly detailed description of every inch of the location is unnecessary and often ends up getting taken out of the script. If a few of these were descriptions of your key elements, you just lost them by including too much detail. The description of a location with the absolute basic requirements needed to make your scene work makes it a lot easier for anyone scouting for locations.

Never forget that your script is a recipe that a lot more people are going to have significant input into before the final product is finished. So keep it to the absolute essentials to tell your story. 

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