Action versus Non-Action

You might have heard this time and time again when writing a script. Action is everything. So what exactly does that mean?

Let’s break it down a little. Basically everything in your story should be shown as much through ACTION as possible. Remember, scripts ultimately are a visual medium. If your character is brave, SHOW them being brave. If they are insecure, SHOW us how they are insecure. Show, don’t tell. Example time:

TELLING:
INT. CLUB – NIGHT
Jimmy stands against the wall holding his drink. Tamara walks up and fixes his collar.

TAMARA
I knew I would find you here cowering in the corner. Why don’t you go dance with someone?

We are currently looking at the action at the moment. While snappy dialogue is a must (These are NOT examples of snappy dialogue. These are for educational purposes only). It doesn’t make up for over explanation and exposition.

SHOWING
INT. CLUB – NIGHT
Jimmy cowers in the corner, averting eye contact as much as possible. Every time a girl walk’s by he whips out his phone and pretends to have a conversation. Tamara approaches.

TAMARA
I can’t believe you actually came tonight. I’ll pay you five bucks right now if you go dance with a stranger.

Now this is just one example. Also this arguably is one of the most difficult things to do while writing a script. How do I show who my character is? Their wants and desires, their fears. Creating subtext is no easy task. If you are too subtle, it might be missed, if you are on the nose, it ruins the magic. This is where real life comes in handy. Think of how people react in different situations. How people act when responding to their environment. Even if you are writing a story about underwater dragons, these rules still apply.

Which leads to screenwriting tip #2. Create situations that FORCE your character to react, revealing their true nature. Again, not easy to do, but oh so important. Necessary really. I will be talking about this concept next week.


Hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or want to learn more. Send me an email at support@thefriendlyreader.com

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