A good professional screenplay is like a good piece of journalism: Both writers use the minimum words possible to communicate the maximum information. A good screenplay should be easy to read, but also easy to read fast.
The screenplay is a piece of writing that deals with things emotional, and should be itself be a pleasure to read. The brief style required of you should never be so boring that it fails to spark in the reader the feeling that the finished film itself is meant to inspire.
To display this technique we will be looking at a piece of the Looper screenplay by the amazing Rian Johnson. If you haven’t seen the film, need not worry, the scene takes place in the trailer – here.
Let’s first take a look at this extract as if it were written by a writer looking to convey all the information that would be on screen.
While not wrong this interpretation isn’t very fluid. It bares more resemblance to a novel, and the information is quite obvious; if the man has a sack over his head, of course he isn’t going to be able to see, if he has been shot by a shotgun there’s a 100% there will be blood, that’s a given . Including this information is redundant and it bogs down your screenplay.
Let’s have a look at the original by Rian.
The information is quickly dispersed, it’s quite dense, but light enough to read with pleasure and efficiency. Try writing like this next time you take to your keyboard, you’ll find your draft to be much more pleasurable to read. Of course as with everything we share this isn’t a golden rule to live by; it’s just a nod in the right direction.
Rian has made his script publicly available. You can download it here – Looper