How does your script move?

AMC Pacer
Not that kind of pacing

When you’re reading a script, are you able to notice how time is passing while you’re reading?

Have you zipped through a significant amount of pages without even realizing it? Or does it feel like this thing is just dragging on forever, and that even turning the page is going to require every last ounce of strength you’ve got?

A key factor in writing a script is establishing its pacing, or “how the story moves”. This is one of those skills that takes time to develop.

A script might be overwritten, or at least have too much going on that it distracts you from concentrating on the story. Or maybe it’s written in a flat, almost-monotone kind of way, which makes it tough to stay interested.

Who hasn’t read scripts containing scenes like all of these? And it’s probably reasonable to assume if the script has one scene like this, there are going to be a lot more just like it throughout the whole thing.

So what can you do about it?

The best advice is a two-parter.

The first is a quote usually attributed to David Mamet and/or William Goldman:

Get in late, get out early.

Get to the point of each scene as soon as possible, then get out and move on to the next one. Anything else is unnecessary and will slow things down, and you don’t want that.

The second is a universal rule of storytelling:

Don’t be boring.

Write so it holds our interest. Don’t overdo it, but don’t settle for the bare minimum either.

Get that momentum going, and do your best to keep it that way.

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