Q: When I’m writing action-based scripts, I try write down the sound of the action. eg..... BANG! The car erupted into a ball of fire. SLAM! The man attacked from the side, sending John crashing into the wall. SMASH! The dark figure burst through the window, glass shattering all around.
Is this a good idea, or do you think it comes off as amateur-ish? Does it seem like I don't know what I'm doing or that I can't describe the action any other way? Or does it have the desired effect - helps the reader visualise the moment and keep reading?
In general, I think it’s a good idea to use CAPITAL LETTERS to accentuate the moment. The above example would be perfectly fine in my book as there’s a pace and immediacy about the action that the reader can feel and visualise. However, as with most things in screenwriting, especially spec scripts, proceed with caution. Don’t OVERUSE CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE IT WILL GET VERY ANNOYING, VERY SOON.
Obviously, entire scripts written in capital letters are a big no-no, but they still crop up here and there, which really shouts AMATEUR more than anything else (some TV script formats being the exception). When you first mention a character, their name goes in capital letters, then you refer to them as normal from there (but everyone knew that, right?).
When it comes to describing the action, always remember that less is more. How you use capital letters will usually indicate how confident you are about your script. For example, if you’re feeling a bit insecure about your writing, you might write something like this:
“Danny WALKS into the empty ROOM, takes one LOOK around, inhales DEEPLY, then makes a RUN for the window.
SMASH! He jumps right through the window”.
If you’re feeling more confident, or normal, you’d probably use the capital letters for the SMASH! only; everything else just gives the description an unnecessarily jerky feel. And the smash is the most dramatic part of the scene, so it justifies its capital use.
For action scripts specifically, you should probably use capitals for the ACTIVE parts of the description rather than lazily pepper EVERY WORD WITH CAPITAL LETTERS. If you’re writing well, the story will work, regardless of capital letters, so be smart and be cool, and you should be okay. Always think of the scene and the story, rather than worrying if you’re missing out on making an impact with lower case action-description.