Q&A: Formatting Series - Descriptions Should Reflect Genre

Q&A: Formatting Series - Descriptions Should Reflect Genre

This is common sense, but I have found it necessary to point out on more than one occasion: Your genre of choice should be reflected in your descriptions not ONLY in your characters’ personalities.

Most emerging writers put all of their energy into the characters because that is where the audience’s anchor lies; however, neglecting the rest of the script as mere “fill-in” is always a mistake.

I have seen my fair share of scripts in which the dialogue is incredibly well-done, organic, and engaging, but the rest of the script is simply paint-by-the-numbers, boring description. And boring anything will deflate a script’s potential very quickly.

Now, it seems fairly reasonable that a crime thriller might have a brooding protagonist with a dark past, but do the descriptions of the world, the individual scenes and the word choice reflect the same kind of tone as out protagonist?

On another level, if you are writing a horror, are you able to successfully add suspense and shock where needed? Better yet, are you able to scare the reader with your descriptions?

I still remember a psychological horror script I read 10 years ago because the scenes were so immersive and—yes—scared the shit out of me.

Without going over the top in terms of paragraph length, your goal should be to burn the appropriate image or feeling into the reader’s head that reflects the movie’s tone.

If that is all making sense, then let’s switch gears to the exact opposite: comedy.

This genre is the most abused in the topic we are discussing. For some reason, writers think that a funny character with quippy dialogue results in a comedy, but unless that humor is embedded in almost every line of that script, we are looking at an attempt at a comedy and nothing more.

Comedy scripts should make the reader laugh at the writing and the clever application of humor, even when the characters are not centerstage in the scene. Action lines should be humorous, too.

I know common sense, right? Well, then let’s do better together, people.

Ruth Sabin has a secret identity: children’s book author by day and by night... a screenwriter who loves a gritty adventure. Makes for an eclectic portfolio and a fun career of creative consulting.
More posts by Ruth Sabin.
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