Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How Does This Happen?

For those of you who read a ton of screenplays from wannabes ...

How is it that many screenplays sound like a commentary from somebody watching their first game? Nothing tells me the writer even understands the depths of what his own characters are experiencing. The story feels forced and out of touch with itself.

"A guy in a red shirt with the number 5 is throwing the ball to his left. Nobody there. A tall guy in a striped shirt throws a yellow square of fabric onto the grass near where the ball hit the ground."

It's not just amateurish flat writing. It's something more.

Since nobody knows the story better than the writer and nobody knows the characters' fractured worlds of pain and wonder better than the writer, this Dick and Jane casual observer writing is an enigma to me. It's easy to spot but I don't understand how it happens or how to recommend a fix. "You suck at writing" seems like cruel over-simplification.

Does it boil down to "anyone can write but not everyone can tell a story"? I can't come up with an academic explanation.