Writing An Original Short Screenplay

Narrative is the art closest to the ordinary daily operation of the human mind. People find the meaning of their lives in the idea of sequence, in conflict, in metaphor and in moral. People think and make judgments from the confidence of narrative; anyone, at any age, is able to tell the story of his or her life with authority.

E. L. DOCTOROW

At this point, if you have faithfully done the exercises and assignments laid out in previous chapters, you will have learned, among other things, how to write and revise both character description and location description in format; how to use offscreen sound to create mood and evoke offscreen events; how to begin to develop a character; how to gather and transform material for an adaptation; and how to do a story outline for a short screenplay to be written using that material.

What follows is a discussion of ways in which character can be revealed in speech, and ways in which speech can be used to further a character's dramatic action. In good screenplay writing, dialogue is as much a form of behavior as any physical action; it is also a form of dramatic action.

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