Make Us See It: Writing With Personality

By Michael Schilf · February 24, 2011

Okay, so you’ve written a screenplay. It’s clear and concise, it flows well, it's easy on the reader – which is no small feat – but it's almost too clinical because it’s lacking any style.

You tell your reader things are happening visually, but you fail to engage us – to MAKE US SEE IT. And when I say that, I’m not just talking about the visual elements of a particular scene in your script. It’s more than that. It’s voice: style, word choice, rhythm, even the occasional tinge of sarcasm, etc. Simply put, voice is flavor, and often, a technically sound script can still be a bore to read because it has no personality.

Think of it this way. There are thousands of talk radio shows out there, but the ones that survive (regardless of the subject mater – sports, news, politics, religion… whatever) aren't successful because of what they talk about. They have staying power because of HOW they talk about it. It's the personality behind the microphone that sells.

Writing is the same. You are selling you, not just your screenplay. You’re selling the way you "show" the visual storytelling on the page. That's style. That's voice. That's personality. And the trick is to use that style/voice/personality to make the readers "see it".

So go ahead – put as much of you in your writing as you can, and then when people line up to read your next screenplay, they do it not just because they’re interested in the story, the character, or the pitch, but instead, because of the writer – because of you.