The screenwriting and writing itself is for the artist to do; there are no rules, no magic recipes to apply, no golden ticket. But all good screenwriting and writing has a distinct voice. Why read one columnist over another in the Sunday Times? It almost always comes down to that writer’s original voice. The way two or more writers would describe the same element in a script might be quite different, yet they all could accomplish the writing objective with equal quality.
“Words are the voice of the heart.” – Confucious
There is no better way to put it. Your voice, simply put, is you: it’s your scent, your soul, the abstract elixir of your core. As a screenwriter, it’s the way you describe the action, it’s your style and word choice, it’s the pulse of the page, it’s rhythm, and just as important, it’s also the decisions you make to grab the reader’s attention and connect with the audience. It’s the execution of the well rehearsed yet original dance you have with the audience as you lead them to become active participants in the story.
Your voice is all of this, but the one thing it’s not is dialogue. Your characters own that. Each character must have his or her own distinct way of speaking – cadence, dialect, accent, vocabulary, etc. – and although each character’s dialogue is created and developed by you, it manifests from a very different place, and, if done properly, it comes from a separate person entirely – the character him/herself.
In this section, you will learn tricks of the trade to help establish and maintain a strong audience connection. You will learn how to sell the future of the story through the use of advertising, you will be able to apply multiple plants and payoff to your script, you will learn to use scenes of preparation and aftermath to maximize audience involvement, you’ll begin to see how tension, mystery, and suspense can all dictate a reader to hope and fear and reach conclusions (right or wrong), you’ll digest how delaying information or using a reversal can affect your reader, and you’ll learn techniques that can help in developing atmosphere, style, and rhythm in your screenwriting.
But your voice itself, the writer’s voice, cannot be taught; it can’t be forced. It develops over time, and like anything, if you want to do it well, it demands practice… so do it. Just write.
Additional Information on Voice