Thursday, March 4, 2010

Walk the Walk

Sometimes, when we’re reading (or writing) a screenplay, the action gets a little dull. And it’s easy when you’re writing to settle for making the action as simple and straightforward as possible. You want to tell us what’s happening economically, and that’s a good thing. Still, a well-written screenplay doesn’t just consist of snappy dialogue. Action that’s descriptive and specific enhances character, setting, and story.

A simple way to punch up your action is to scan your screenplay for words that tend to be overused like ‘walk’ or ‘laugh’ and replace them with more accurate verbs. Especially in instances where you have a character ‘walking slowly’ or ‘laughing menacingly.’ Try ‘ambling’ or ‘cackling.’ A screenplay that doesn’t repeat dull verbs reads well. Also, the particular way that one of your characters walks or laughs can say a lot about him or her. So keep this in mind when you’re re-writing. Don’t go too crazy, and have everyone stride and strut and chortle all the time, but think about your verb use.


Jane rushes in, harried and panting. Dick emerges from the kitchen, drying his hands on a dish cloth.

Where have you been? Dinner was ready hours ago.

Well, don’t blame me. You’re the one that had to have fresh Italian parsley.

Fast Mart didn’t have it?

No, Dick. Fast Mart didn’t have it. So then I walked over to Grab N’ Go, and they didn’t have it either, so I walked to the bus stop, caught the bus and walked to Fresh N’ Fast, and they didn’t have it, so I walked to like three more places that didn’t have it, then I walked to the Farmer’s Market, and I walked all over looking for it there, but I couldn’t find anything but apples, so then I walked to an Italian restaurant, and finally they sold me some. Then I walked home. And that’s where I’ve been.


Yeah. It was crazy. I hope you appreciate the things I do for you.

No, it’s just, man you did not tell that story well. There are other words for walk, you know.

Oh, yeah, Dick? What do you suggest?

Well…saunter, stroll, amble, march, pace, hike, toddle, totter, stagger, move, go, mosey, meander, ramble, wander, promenade, step, run, rush, hurry, stalk, swagger, advance, parade, shuffle, hobble, scuffle, trundle, shamble, waddle, trek, tramp, scramble, trudge, slog, traipse, trek plod, lumber, tread, clump –

Jane slaps Dick in the face and strides away. She looks over her shoulder at a stunned Dick.

You said trek twice.

Well, there you have it. We don’t mean to sound like a dick, but spicing up your verbs makes your story more interesting.

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