SHOW don’t TELL – The Importance of Visual Screenwriting
Screenwriting. Writing for the screen. That’s all we’re aiming to do so why do we sometimes fall into the trap of TELL instead of SHOW approach.
To TELL something in a script, we use over the top obvious dialogue that we think is explaining some valuable info or insight to our reader. A fictional example may be:
INT. OFFICE - DAY
John and Jane stand over a dead body.
Jane, his neck has teeth marks,
two punctures perfectly aligned. It must be–
Whereas, to SHOW something in a script, would be to utilize visual cues and describing action as it happens, allowing the information and insight to be revealed visually to the reader or viewer. Another fictional example could be:
INT. OFFICE - DAY
John and Jane enter with caution. Jane crouches over the lifeless body, pulls his collar down to check his pulse but sees… two puncture holes in his neck.
We all have to remember to use our words wisely, using only the words necessary to get the point across. This applies when writing both dialogue and action in your script. You really do want to make every word count, your reader will thank you for it and it will ultimately be to your advantage.
Take notes when you watch your favorite films, write down what scenes work and which don’t and you’ll start to see a pattern of why that is. After that, read the scripts of your favorite films and see how they tackle important scenes and then compare how they translate on the actual film.
Reel Authors offers a genre-based screenplay/teleplay writing contest where scripts are assigned to readers who enjoy that particular genre. We accept screenplays, teleplays and short film scripts. Contests run every 6 months.
The Pulsar Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest is an international screenplay contest dedicated exclusively to Sci-Fi. We also accept Sci-Fi original pilot and existing show teleplays. Contests run every 6 months.