Lesson 11: Action
Why is action in a screenplay important?
- It informs the pace and mood of the genre you have chosen for your script.
- It illuminates characterisation.
- And shows how people and objects move on screen.
“Nothing happens until something moves,” Einstein said and his words apply to the craft of screenwriting. Most of your screenplay will comprise description of your characters’ actions and setting. It is about movement, flow, advancing the plot. (The rest will be dialogue.)
The ‘action lines’ cannot be ignored or glossed over. We know that first readers of scripts are producers or directors, even actors, so you must make the story come alive on the page.
This is where you show the reader, in words, what they will see and hear on the screen. The writing must be succinct, radiant, and kinetic – in other words, it must move us forward. It is a motion picture – so we must show that motion.
Imagine how one of the following would cross a street at a pedestrian crossing. Write a one-page scene for each.
- A family of ducks.
- Two elderly shoppers.
- Five teenage hooligans.
- A single plastic shopping bag.
- Three kids on electric skateboards.
- A solitary jogger.
- A police officer.
Show the energy, colour, movement, and mood for one of the following scenarios.
- A pedestrian hit by a moving car.
- A private jet taking off at night.
- A man or woman swimming or surfing alone.
- A teenager getting dressed for a night out dancing.
- A rock band moving around on stage at a concert.
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