Visual Mindscape: Fundamentalism in Screenwritng

As I mentioned in the last column, A Different Take on Screenplay Structure, the Three Act Structure has been pushed onto young writers when there are numerous other forms of storytelling available and worth consideration.

fundamentals of screenwritingThe reason for this is, in part, to offer purpose and validation to many of the script analysts and screenwriting gurus who teach or write about the screenwriting process.  They are adamant that they have the answer to some ever-changing and mysterious marketing criteria that will lead to the sale of your screenplay.

They declare that there are rules that must be followed in the development of the story, characters, plotting, narrative, formatting, and whatever else they can wrap up in a bow.

It is analytical left-brain thinking attempting to understand, control, and negate the crucial role that novelty plays in the screenwriting process which is an intuitive right-brain craft.

If it weren’t for the fact that it has skewed the creative thought of so many young writers as they attempt to follow all of the ‘rules’ I wouldn’t be that concerned about it.

How many of you have been told in a screenwriting course or a book you have read any of the following;

Don’t Use Flashbacks

Don’t Use Camera Angles

Don’t Use Camera Directions

Don’t Use ‘We See’.

Don’t Use Transitions

The Antagonist must be introduced in the first act.

Keep the Narrative to a minimum (White on the Page)

Don’t Use Parentheticals

Establish Your Genre and Never Break from It

Don’t use Montages

Don’t use ellipsis (. . .)

Don’t Use Voice Over Narration

Don’t write a Character Description

Inciting Incident must appear before page 10

I have only one rule.  The screenplay must be an enjoyable, fluid, easy read that excites the reader.

Okay, I am now officially over my two column rant and will return to the Visual Mindscape in my next column. I just wanted to make it clear about where I stand in terms of the screenwriting process.

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One thought on “Visual Mindscape: Fundamentalism in Screenwritng

  1. K. Rowe

    Thank you, my head has been hurting trying to follow all the RULES. I need to step back and readdress my script, perhaps putting back some of what came from the novel originally might make it better. I was told to strip it bare, just leave the skeleton, and that’s a script. Evidently that’s wrong because of all the notes I’m getting about not enough narrative. And then I’ve had so many folks telling me conflicting things, my poor brain is just confused.

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