Well the box office numbers are in and it looks like Lucy was a hit. Guess my prediction was wrong. It seems that the draw of a kick-ass female action star like Scarlett Johansson overshadows a nonsensical premise. That or much of the audience doesn’t realize that “10% brain use” is completely wrong.
Recently I have been doing a little experiment with my own writing. I have been trying to shorten my description. By this I mean, I am trying to say more with less words.
Description is a tricky part of a script. The writer has to describe the world and actions of the characters, but a writer does not need to write in every detail of every object and person in a location. When a script becomes a film the art director, costume department, make up department, cinematographer, etc. will fill in all those details.
Instead a writer must present description that is vague yet specific.
Vague in the sense that they can’t describe every detail of a room or a person’s appearance, yet specific in the sense that the reader must still be able to envision what is described.
For example, if a script contains this description:
EXT: FRONTIER TOWN – DAY
Windswept road. Empty.
Two horses hitched in front of the saloon.
A man smokes, eyes following Bill as he approaches.
With his description I am both vague and specific. The reader should be able to picture an old west frontier town, the streets are empty, the town is quiet. Though the smoking man is not described, his actions make the reader feel suspicion toward him. The two horses implies that someone has stopped off at the saloon, possibly someone that Bill is looking for.
Did I describe every place in the town? Did I tell you what breed or color horses were hitched up? Did I describe what saddles were on the horses? Did I describe the man’s features? Did I say what he was smoking? Did I describe everyone in town?
Because I don’t need to. I only described what is important for the reader to know. If someone is going to pull a gun out of a saddlebag, then I should indicate the saddle bags. If Bill is looking for a specific horse, then I should describe these horses in order to indicate they are or are not the horses he is looking for. But since that was not part of the plot, I didn’t describe them.
I only wrote what was important to the plot.
To sum it all up, description needs to do one of two things:
1) Reveal character
2) Set up/continue the plot
It’s simple, if you are describing objects that do not give an insight into the mind of a character, or are not objects that will/do propel the plot forward, then don’t describe them.
This will lead you to be vague in your description, yet specific because you only describe what is necessary.
That’s all from me this week. Next week I will be talking about the use of ellipses and beats. Until then, keep writing.