An excerpt from my script review for Angel Has Fallen which will be available 08/27/19:
4.) Dialogue and Description
The banter between Banning and Davis/Trumbull was all pretty good and lent to why I enjoyed the relationships of those particular characters.
Some of the other lines though felt like they came right out of a 90s Arnold flick. Maybe that’s what they were going for as this was an action script, but it felt a little…campy.
Speaking of action, what I wanted to discuss here was the importance of not going into too much detail when laying out your action sequences.
You don’t want to go too, generic, but at the same time, you don’t want to burden the reader’s mind either.
Here’s an example from page 77:
Averin WHIP DRAWS a pair of karambits from their concealed
sheaths. Expertly spins the claw-like blades in his hands.
Shit’s about to get real.
They LUNGE for each other in the same instant. Averin’s two
curved blades vs. Banning’s trusty KA-BAR. The lethal blades
slash the air, insanely fast. A blinding flurry of STRIKES
The two ferociously BATTLE. Averin TAGS Banning on the arm,
mercilessly pressing his assault. Banning BATTLES back,
slicing Averin high on the cheek. Deadly blades whistling
with inhuman speed.
It’s an epic, drag-out, no-holds-barred FINAL SHOWDOWN.
Banning lunges forward, relentless, knife WHIPPING THE AIR.
Spins one of the karambits from Averin’s hand. It clatters
The SAVAGE BATTLE continues. Steel on steel. Each scores
hits on the other with expert SLASHING BLOWS.
Averin swings his blade in a blinding overhead arc. At the
last instant, Banning BLOCKS the strike, both weapons
COLLIDING in a glancing blow that sends them both spinning
from their combatant’s hands.
The two face each other, circling.
Both bleeding. Breathing hard.
It’s down to bare hands now.
Now I’m not suggesting you cut it down to a simple “Banning and Averin battle it out” to save on page count, but realize there was A LOT of entries like this, and if I’m being completely honest, I skimmed over and only went back if someone died.
Was this format so awful that you shouldn’t emulate it? No, but at 122 pages, you’d be better served trimming some of this fat in your own spec script to make the description mentally digestible for your reader.
Remember, no matter how awesome you think a particular action sequence is in your own writing, I guarantee you a professional reader’s going to have read something comparable to it before or at least fell like they have.
(Look at the SUV scene from page 108 that was right out of Road House.)
Make your story compelling, and any cool action visuals will be icing on the cake.
Oh…and avoid using the same phrase over and over again.
…an absolutely astonishing FUSILLADE
OF BULLETS rakes the oncoming vehicle –
That “fusillade” bit was overused, and showed a lack of creativity. You can do better than that.
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