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08/25/2001 - Description Description Description
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Teleplay Tips & Tricks

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Over the past several years I've noticed a running battle on all Message Boards, Bulletin Boards, and Newsgroups about screen and/or television writing. That battle is about how much to describe the action and settings in your script.

I can't speak for feature films (although my theory there, which I've stated in other writings, is that everyone might as well emulate Shane Black, the most successful spec script writer/seller in history. Read something he's written and then do the same), but I know television. There are very few "professional readers" in TV. For the most part, the people who read your work are the people who produce the shows. This means you have to write the way way series staff writers write. And that means you have to describe everything fully unless it's a standing set.

Don't tell us how the hero's office looks, but do tell us what the library she visits is like. Don't tell us that the hero frowns or walks from his chair to the table, but-and this is crucial-do tell us how that action scene has to go-punch by punch or tire squeal by tire squeal. The writer is the choreographer. Hey, that's the fun!

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