Monday, December 06, 2010

Screenwriting Bullet #1

What's 'original voice'?

'Original voice' is the term used by producers/execs/script editors when describing a writer's particular style, or lack thereof. e.g. 'This script has no original voice' or 'we need scripts with more original voices'.

A writer who demonstrates 'original voice' will have a distinctive style or a fresh storytelling approach, something which makes their scripts easy-to-read, original, entertaining and/or thematically resonant, or all of the above (for thematically rich writers, they may be referred to as someone who has 'something to say'). See Jimmy McGovern, Paul Abbott, Russel T Davies, Tony Jordan, Howard Overman, Ashley Pharoah, Matthew Graham etc.

For more on original voice, see this post from 2005.


Rosie Claverton said...

I was looking at the original post only yesterday, because I'm struggling to find my "voice" without becoming wordy.

How can you write originally without a flood of words or resorting to fragments? I've seen good use of fragments but I don't think that's my style.

Danny Stack said...

HI Rosie - 'just write what you see on screen' is always a good starting point, and any additional flavour or style will come from your own voice. Sometimes it takes time. My style comes from years of reading scripts so I try to keep my description short and to the point, but it varies for everyone.

Adaddinsane said...

@rosie: "Trying to find your voice" is the way to become so introverted you end up twisted into a pretzel (I had a more scatological metaphor but decide against it).

Just write the way you write. Keep writing the way your write. Then keep on writing the way you write. Your writing voice will emerge.

Trying to find it is chasing the end of the rainbow.

Rosie Claverton said...

Thanks, guys! That's reassured me. Everyone was banging on about how important it is, which I don't doubt, but like so many things, where's the path?


Anonymous said...

Having a VOICE Rosie - is about having something to say.

It is about the 'message' the combination of your protagonist's pursuit of a goal, as realised in the crisis combines to make a statement about your own belief and values. There is also the thematic voice - what is your story 'about' ?

What is the protagonist's attitude to his own beliefs and values - and how are they tested by the antagonist - or oppositional forces?

Why have you chosen this subject to write about - why? What statement are you attempting to make?

Most scripts have nothing to say - they're just about the action of the protagonist.

Do not confuse VOICE with style - how you write description. Unless comedic or you are trying to convey a sense of action, 'description' should be clear, simple logical narrative.

see:'How Not to Write a Screenplay' and 'Your Screenplay Sucks' for style.

'Story Sense: A Screenwriter's Guide for Film and Television' by Paul Lucey - a brilliant book on building a screenplay that has something to say. Pricey on Amazon - but worth the money. Perhaps cheaper from the U.S. on