An excerpt from my script review for Black Panther which will be available 01/07/19:
4.) Dialogue and Description
This was a very visual dependent project.
The issue, for us as novices at least, is that one of the writers was also the director, so in his case, he knew what everything would look like, and probably had the green light before it was even written.
Us selling our spec script? We don’t have that luxury starting out (even if our long term goal is to write and produce).
This script, and primarily the Wakandan culture, is filled with lots of grandiose and overly complex ways of life.
What if the person you’re pitching isn’t familiar with the source material?
Simply stated, your tone best convey your visuals.
Here it’s probably okay to make comparisons to common day technology, then take it to the next level.
Give us something we’re familiar with, and then describe your unique take in a phrase or two.
For instance, when T’Challa, Okaye and Nakia return to Wakanda, and we “see” it for the first time, there should be a single line (or two) that set up just how stunning this city is.
Wakanda’s capital is the utopia scholars dream of, and that nations go to war over failing to achieve.
Something like that and it doesn’’t need to be long, in fact it shouldn’t be. The more details you include, the more overburdened your reader.
For instance around page 37, Shuri is having T’Challa test her new Black Panther nanite suit. It should be very interesting, and visually probably is, but the way it reads every single detail, from how the suit works to his actions in it, is delivered matter-of-fact.
And this was a larger issue for the entire script, including most of the action and fight sequences.
We don’t have the budget or opportunity to show our readers storyboards of just how cool the action will look, so instead it’s our job to create those sequences in their mind’s eye, making our description entries “mentally digestible” for their brains.
If we can’t do that, and deliver each line without a unique voice, we won’t get too far along the Hollywood production line.
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