Author Topic: Basics - Writing Action  (Read 1396 times)

Writer Arena

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Basics - Writing Action
« on: August 21, 2013, 09:48:54 PM »
This is a thread containing information related to writing action.

Alex

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 11:18:18 AM »
Hopefully this thread refers to action lines and not action scripts. Hee Hee

Action lines are important to get your message across to any reader and are one of the hardest parts of any screenplay to write as it forms a larger part of most scripts.

They should be descriptive enough so the reader can image the scene in their head, though not overly descriptive so it's a tedious read.

Keep all action lines as brief as possible so that the choice of words selected are relevant to the story being told.

Also try and keep your action lines to a maximum of 3 lines. I have read screenplays with action lines being 7-8 lines long and believe me I really didn't want to continue reading.

The only real way to master action lines is by reading as many scripts as possible and gaining an understanding of how they work.

Regards Alex
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 11:20:09 AM by Alex »
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Mo

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 11:00:58 PM »
Agree with everything Alex said except the max 3 line rule. Generally, it's max 4 unless you're writing a comedy or a script that requires quick burst of words to make the read smoother.

For new writers, you'll undoubtedly get comments where you're told not to put 'we' or not to direct the shot, which may seem like a standard rule but trust me, it's just preference. If a reader is forcing you to change your voice, I would ignore the comments about it. Eventually, you'll realize yourself what works and what doesn't but if somebody asks you to not use a certain style in your writing without good reason, it's best not to listen to it. 

Alex

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2013, 09:44:34 PM »
Agree with everything Alex said except the max 3 line rule. Generally, it's max 4 unless you're writing a comedy or a script that requires quick burst of words to make the read smoother.

For new writers, you'll undoubtedly get comments where you're told not to put 'we' or not to direct the shot, which may seem like a standard rule but trust me, it's just preference. If a reader is forcing you to change your voice, I would ignore the comments about it. Eventually, you'll realize yourself what works and what doesn't but if somebody asks you to not use a certain style in your writing without good reason, it's best not to listen to it.

Hey Mo,

Have to say the 3 line format is something I have adopted as a rule of thumb for my own writing.

I find writing in a maximum of 3 lines does make the read easier, though there is no hard and fast reason for this over say 4 lines.

I feel the action lines should be in blocks and associated with a particular situation and if it can't be described in 3 or even 4 lines then it may be worth reviewing the writing and possibly tightening it to remove the fluff.

There is no harm splitting it over two action lines to make the read easier should an action line be overly long.

Regards Alex
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Alex

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 11:17:20 AM »
This one is not directly related to Action Lines though does form part of it as well as dialogue lines.

For all you screenwriters who are not living in the US it is always a struggle to get the US spelling right.

Most times I write with Australian spelling and Final Draft tells me I'm wrong (thanks FD for that), though sometimes
I pop into this site to get the correct spelling as it is the first thing someone will find when I receive comments.

http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/BritishCanadianAmerican.htm

ENJOY...
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Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2013, 09:24:49 AM »
I think when writing action lines you should be varied.   There shouldn't be any rules that you follow except the keep the reader involved.   You certainly shouldn't write the entire script in short bursts of words (unless that's how you think).

However, you should keep the sentences simple and active (that doesn't mean you can't include ing words)  and keep the paragraphs short .   

Remember that a spec script is a reading script so having some writing in it isn't a crime. And while it's supposed to evoke the film in the readers mind, it isn't the shooting script so you don't (and shouldn't) follow the film shot for shot.   

Alex

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2013, 11:53:12 AM »

Just to add to this thread:- Action lines can vary depending on the Genre.

I have a friend who writes High Impact Action scripts and his action lines do vary in style from other Genres.

I find with "Action" - action lines there is more happening all over the place simultaneously and the action lines can be a touch confusing to non Action writers. (I repeated "action" above twice on purpose, as one refers to a Genre and on the Action lines).

This is why I avoid action Scripts !!!
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Pia

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 12:30:59 AM »
This one popped up on the top of the list of recent topics. I clicked on it because I thought it was about writing action, not action lines. Oh well, I'll read Bill Martell's book on writing action instead then.   ;D

Alex

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 11:39:02 AM »
This one popped up on the top of the list of recent topics. I clicked on it because I thought it was about writing action, not action lines. Oh well, I'll read Bill Martell's book on writing action instead then.   ;D

Hey Pia,

This was done by Michael as a challenge some time back along with several other threads to get people talking about various topics and was related to action lines though I can see read on it's own, how the heading can be misleading.

I do have a friend who is a produced screenwriter and he only writes high concept action scripts and I have to admit I really hate reading them. I find action scripts are to busy as they have many simultaneous things happening and can be sometimes hard to imagine.

Alex
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Pia

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 11:59:06 AM »
Idon't mind watching action films, but I hate reading those scripts too.  :)

Alex

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 12:51:36 PM »
Idon't mind watching action films, but I hate reading those scripts too.  :)

They are so messssssy to read and hard to follow. 10 different things happening at once.
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Manowar

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Re: Basics - Writing Action
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2014, 05:37:37 PM »
Too many action scripts from newbs read like bullet points; countless one-line sentences, which are both boring and monotonous to read as they lack any sort of rhythm. Others are too dense, or even if they maintain a three- or four-line max they are still so clinical and so sanitized, wiped clear of any personality for sake of saving word and sentence length. But being more clear and creative (different) in those action blocks brings out the character of the narrator's style--his/her voice--which is so instrumental in keeping a reader's interest. And that's what a lot of writers forget--you have to keep a reader's interest, not obey "writer rules" to the letter or satisfy page or action-block lengths.