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Old 05-03-2018, 10:10 AM   #1
BrickFlare
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Default How important is voice in screenwriting?

Not exactly sure where this question goes. I was just wondering, because when you're writing a story, I see that there's a lot of emphasis put on the voice of the narrative. I can't tell you how many times I've read from critiques and book reviews, 'The voice is good,' 'I was drawn in by the voice,' 'The voice fits the...' So, does screenwriting follow a similar standard? How distinct and unique does the prose have to be? Sorry if this is a ridiculous question, but it's something I've been curious about. Thanks.
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Old 05-03-2018, 11:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

It is difficult to answer this, because voice is an elusive idea. What, after all, do we mean when we speak of a writer's voice? I think it is the whole ball of wax: style, word choice, subject matter, themes, preferential use of drama or comedy, types of characters (professional class, blue-collar class), and — importantly! — behind all of these an image of the author that we form in response to all the signals that come from his writing.

I do not think that voice plays the same role in screenwriting that it does in a novel. I would say that voice is usually more complex in a novel. But it would be wrong to say that voice has no role, ever, in a screenplay. It obviously depends on the screenplay. A script with people chasing one another and with cars crashing and with big explosions probably has a very simple voice. It does not take much critical analysis to define what the movie is. On the other hand, those "thought-provoking" films that pop up now and then have a more complex voice.

The answer to your question, I think, depends entirely on what you mean by voice.
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Old 05-03-2018, 03:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Voice isn't something you can manufacture. It's something that has to come naturally. I think someone mentioned in another thread here that voice is just "confidence." It's knowing you know how to write and then just writing.
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Old 05-04-2018, 07:32 AM   #4
BrickFlare
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Okay, a lot of this make sense. I guess what I meant by voice was the way someone writes their narrative, like how everyone has their own distinct way of speaking/personality, you can feel a distinct personality shining through a particular narrative. This was a bit confusing to me when it came to screenwriting, because when I look up certain screenplays for movies, some of the writing seems very basic with little in the way of "prose" or personality, but they have a fantastic plot. Meanwhile, there are other screenplays I read that have a certain flare to them, and the writer is using a lot of colorful words to help carry the script, ie, they have a lot of "voice." Guess I was just wondering if the latter was a better way to do things.
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Old 05-04-2018, 10:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

In screenwriting you just naturally develop your voice by being the person you are with the particular taste you have and themes and genres that call out to you. You can't really force it. You are who you are, and it should show in your writing along with your mastery of your craft and ease (or perceived ease) of expressing yourself.
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:52 AM   #6
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrickFlare View Post
Okay, a lot of this make sense. I guess what I meant by voice was the way someone writes their narrative, like how everyone has their own distinct way of speaking/personality, you can feel a distinct personality shining through a particular narrative. This was a bit confusing to me when it came to screenwriting, because when I look up certain screenplays for movies, some of the writing seems very basic with little in the way of "prose" or personality, but they have a fantastic plot. Meanwhile, there are other screenplays I read that have a certain flare to them, and the writer is using a lot of colorful words to help carry the script, ie, they have a lot of "voice." Guess I was just wondering if the latter was a better way to do things.
I'm guessing some of those that seem "very basic" where written by the director and are (more or less) outlines, something used as a placeholder for the dialogue, scenes and camera directions. But I suppose a great plot could overcome clunky (step-by-step) writing.

Regardless, voice is kind of a Catch-22 thing. If you're worried about your "voice" you're not going to develop one.
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Last edited by Centos : 05-04-2018 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Quote:
Centos: [Slightly edited] If you worry about your "voice," you are not going to develop one.
That is a wonderful quote.
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Old 05-06-2018, 10:42 AM   #8
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrickFlare View Post
When I look up certain screenplays for movies, some of the writing seems very basic with little in the way of "prose" or personality, but they have a fantastic plot.

Meanwhile, there are other screenplays I read that have a certain flare to them, and the writer is using a lot of colorful words to help carry the script, ie, they have a lot of "voice."

Guess I was just wondering if the latter was a better way to do things.
I think a good “writer’s voice” is very important during the reading of the screenplay. A good voice helps the reader enjoy the read. But a good voice won’t overcome a poor plot, poor dialogue, or other story problems.

So I think both story and voice are import. A good voice is definitely a plus.

The director and others involved in the finished movie bring plot and other story elements, and their own voices into the movie. I don’t know how much of the writer’s voice, no matter how good it is, remains in the finished product. But even if your writer's voice is lost in the production process, it has served its purpose.
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

In a screenplay voice is the what/how the writer feels. And the style is way the writer presents their voice on the page.

The more truthful the writer is to oneself the more passion will make it into the story. And the clearer the message will be.

The voice doesn’t have to be good to be a good voice. The voice just has to be true to the writer. If the vilest, most bigoted, most horrible writer does an accurate job at presenting his feelings, he has a good voice.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:12 AM   #10
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Default Re: How important is voice in screenwriting?

I think the greatest threat to voice is listening to all the bullshit rules about not using certain types of verbs or words or describing action in a certain way or what you can and can't include... If you're worried about putting in a song or ending a word with "ing" or saying "we see," you're already drowning out your voice.
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