Appealing to Script Readers with Loaded Words

Pick up any horror novel by authors like Stephen King and turn to any page at random. No matter what paragraph you read, it will almost always hint of horror by just describing the scene. Even an ordinary shopping mall can be full of dark corners and suspicious characters roaming around.

Now pick up any romance novel, turn to any age at random, and read any paragraph to notice that romance novels are always using loaded words to hint to passion, love, and desire. Men don’t just have well-built bodies; they have rippling chest muscles that can grab a woman roughly and securely. Women aren’t just beautiful but they have faces like angels with smooth, soft skin and glows when stroked lightly with fingertips.

Flip through any good novel and you’ll notice that every paragraph uses words that echoes the genre of that novel. Mystery novels emphasize suspicion and motives while that same scene described in an action novel might focus more on concrete descriptions that suggest movement or conflict.

The point is that every good novel uses loaded words to help immerse the reader into that genre. You’ll rarely read a horror novel that uses flowery words commonly found in a romance novel. Likewise, you’ll never read passion-ladened adjectives from a romance novel in a spy novel.

So when writing your screenplay, look at how you describe the setting of your scenes. Don’t be objective. If you’re writing a comedy screenplay, write funny comments. If you’re writing a romance, use flower language to evoke passion and desire. If you’re writing a spy screenplay, use words that make every scene a place to be on guard and wary of strangers.

Remember, the first person your screenplay must appeal to is the script reader. Script readers represent an army of often unpaid people who dig through the piles of screenplays studios and agents receive everyday. Since 90% of those screenplays are poorly written, studios and agents don’t want to waste their time searching for the gem among the garbage. Instead, they hire script readers to do this dirty work for them.

As a result, you have to appeal to script readers first before you can ever hope to appeal to an agent or a studio executive. One way to appeal to script readers is to use descriptive language appropriate for your particular screenplay genre.

Imagine writing an action screenplay, but your descriptions for each scene are dull, plain, and outright boring because you’re trying to be objective. Any script reader will likely be bored by such dull language, which subtly turns the script reader against that screenplay.

Now imagine if you filled your screenplay with appropriate descriptive words that make the script reader laugh (if your screenplay is a comedy) or evoke dreams of desire and passion (if your screenplay is a romance). Just by applying descriptive words like a novelist might, you can make your screenplay more exciting to read. The more interesting your screenplay is to read, the more likely the script reader will approve it.

So your first audience of any screenplay is the script reader. Entertain that script reader by using descriptive words that match your story. Although this may seem trivial, doing so can only help while ignoring this can possibly hurt your screenplay’s chances.

Study how popular novelists describe scenes and you’ll notice that their descriptive language matches their novel’s genre whether it’s science fiction, comedy, romance, or action. Do the same when writing your own screenplay and you can subtly increase the chances of your screenplay getting past a script reader as well.

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