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12/10/2001
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"Written Instead"

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday December 10, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com


At last, some controversy!

You know, you write a column for nearly a year, and some weeks you think your words will stir the pot. Yes, you write something you are sure will generate an onslaught of e-mail. But alas, the inbox remains empty.

Other weeks (like, last week for example. Column: "Written...But Read?") you write, what seems straightforward and simple, and you are inundated with feedback from your fellow writers.

And frankly the reactions were split down the middle, for and against. Some took note with the "passive voice" issue (as it came to be known). The real point of that column (maybe, I wasn't clear enough) was making one's script skim-proof and a quick read, since so many won't have the time to digest every word.

Sure, elegant sentences that are structurally more artistic and pleasing to us writers would be nice. However, I really feel this type of screenwriting has to be used sparingly. Used for emphasis. I certainly would write a novel or short story in such a manner - but not a screenplay. People cuddle up to books. I know, I love to have that time in which to get lost in the words. To enjoy the pictures painted in my head by the pages I've read.

Not so with screenplays.

People who read these scripts are in a hurry! They have brought a stack of scripts home to mess up their weekend. In a sense - the last thing they want to be doing is reading a screenplay. I firmly believe that making your script a quick read is as critical as anything. This doesn't mean we shouldn't be creative with writing. The challenge is creativity within the confines of a minimalist approach. And to the other half of you out there, that seems to be your method of preference. One person even pointed out how fewer words can translate to faster action for the reader.

I certainly am no judge and offer no single way of writing over another. I am only, humbly offering what I do in the war, to eradicate skimming.

c.2001pdb

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