Monday, December 21, 2009


No traffic today. I love Christmas in LA.

It's a good thing there was no traffic, because I nearly crashed trying to read the name of the upcoming performer at the Staples Center as I merged on the freeway. It was some kind of woman with her mouth open and her hair in her face so I couldn't tell who it was. It was all very pretty, but failed to deliver any useful information. I guess I won't be going to see whatever show that is.

This made me think about a screenplay I read a few months ago that was filled with stuff that was difficult to read. Vocabulary words Miriam Webster would be impressed by, long complicated sentences that meander like Dickens, a true exploration of elegance in writing.

Except this isn't a novel. I got my writing start in journalism, where we were taught to keep our language simple. The objective in a news article is to deliver information in the simplest way possible. If you want to write with skill, so be it, but keep the vocabulary to levels most people can understand.

I'm glad you know what "pedantic" means. Congratulations. Nobody cares. And if I can't understand what you're writing it's not going to help you. You can make fun of my lack of vocabulary and feel as superior as you want, but it's not going to help you sell your script.

Just because you can write like Faulkner doesn't mean you should. If you want to write with elegant, complex writing, go be a novelist. A screenplay is a document designed to tell the story in as visual and simple a way as possible. If you want to be complicated, do it with your images, not your language. Nobody needs that fruity shit in a script. I just want to be entertained.


  1. Took a shot at writing a novel, based on one of my screenplays, this weekend. A few hours into it I had a page and a half finished. So much for that idea!

  2. C'mon. If i write dialogue for an English lord, is he gonna talk like some mook? No. He might say eschew, he might say evince; even the dreaded ennui could be said. My characters are as true as I can see them.
    However: in scene descripton? Actions? There, it's just dumb to overwrite.


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