Awesome Landscape Descriptions

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  • Awesome Landscape Descriptions

    Looking for scripts with majestic, alluring landscape descriptions of farmland, forests, mountains, etc. ON THE PAGE that makes the reader wishes they were there. Specifically from POV of a car or train or even from a hotel room.

    Have seen movies with such grand scenes but when you go to the script, on the page, it's 2 or 3 sentences of blah.

    Thanks,.

  • #2
    That's because on the page it will read like a novel and not a script -- so you are better off doing enough so the reader imagines the great landscapes you see very very quickly.

    Let me try:

    Epic mountains. Nothing but blue sky. If your car broke down here, you're dead as no life for 100 miles.

    ---
    So magically beautiful this forest looks like a Mac pre loaded screensaver. But it's very real. And we pan to see how vast it all is....



    I write comedy. But some sh&t like that is what you should aim for. Because less is more on the page. I find when people describe too much it ruins what i have in my head. Let the imagination fill in the holes.

    When they say "don't direct on the page" i feel they are talking more about stuff like this. If it's a shitty hotel you don't have to describe it all. You just write

    INT. SH*TTY HOTEL - NIGHT

    As disgusting as you can imagine. A prison cell is cleaner.


    And the director and other depts will be so excited to get their vision on the screen of what that looks like...

    I think the script to Braveheart was like 73 pages and movie is 3 hours long -- some scenes I recall just being THEY FIGHT. And in movie that's 5 pages of brutal ness. And Clerks is 93 minutes but the script is 163 pages long (due to dialogue that's very long) because 1 page per minute rule is another BS rule that doesn't really work in real life a lot of the time.

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    • #3
      I think it's a matter of taste. If you want to be a bit more descriptive with a landscape, go for it. But you need to be able to do it very well without lapsing into purple prose.

      You don't need to use florid adjectives to establish the Vista you're describing.

      Consider the song, America the Beautiful. The opening: Spacious skies. Amber waves of grain. Majestic purple mountains. It's like quick cuts that establish the landscape in very few words.

      We get it. We see it. Quickly. And I'm certain a filmmaker shooting it will see it too.

      This relates to what I was talking about in the poets and novelists thread. I personally believe we can learn something about evocative prose from other fiction disciplines.

      BTW. Most modern literature does not overly describe landscapes. Novels from other centuries, when the naturalism movement was the thing, did tend to over describe.
      Last edited by sc111; 03-26-2021, 12:13 PM. Reason: Typo
      Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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      • #4
        I've never read a Terrence Malick script, but his more recent movies (post Badlands and Days of Heaven and a long pause from filmmaking) have long voice overs describing nature and god. It's not scene description but similar to what you want.

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        • #5
          You guys are great for getting these "stuck on idle" brain cells moving again. Thanks!

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          • #6
            We are ducking great.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
              You guys are great for getting these "stuck on idle" brain cells moving again. Thanks!
              Speaking of brains, try this: when reading the work of other writers' description, pay attention to the images your brain shows you as you read.

              These images are likely detailed, based on your own mental database, even though the writer didn't use specific details. Because the reader's mind will fill in those details.

              Like Bono's example above, first two words: Epic mountains.

              What you "see" and what I "see" upon reading these two words may be completely different from each other and different from what Bono "sees."

              "Epic mountains" is like a search term entered into the reader's mental search engine. Their brain pulls up an image.

              Depending on your own style, you may add an adjective or two. But you don't have add many details about those mountains.

              In fact, if you overdo the details, you may lose them because you're adding stuff they don't need to plow through after their brain generates its version of epic mountains.

              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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              • #8
                Bono -- I agree... usually... LOL

                sc111 -- I like... good food for thought.

                p.s. Your tagline of, "Advice... " ALWAYS brings a smile to my face.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by sc111 View Post

                  Speaking of brains, try this: when reading the work of other writers' description, pay attention to the images your brain shows you as you read.

                  These images are likely detailed, based on your own mental database, even though the writer didn't use specific details. Because the reader's mind will fill in those details.

                  Like Bono's example above, first two words: Epic mountains.

                  What you "see" and what I "see" upon reading these two words may be completely different from each other and different from what Bono "sees."

                  "Epic mountains" is like a search term entered into the reader's mental search engine. Their brain pulls up an image.

                  Depending on your own style, you may add an adjective or two. But you don't have add many details about those mountains.

                  In fact, if you overdo the details, you may lose them because you're adding stuff they don't need to plow through after their brain generates its version of epic mountains.

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                  • #10
                    To clarify, you're saying, Bono's "Epic mountains" is not enough description for a script?

                    Just a note: with your description, IMO the second clause isn't necessary. You've told us the peaks pierce the sky. Which is a cool image. Then you tell us the peaks reach
                    Last edited by sc111; 03-28-2021, 10:32 AM.
                    Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
                      Looking for scripts with majestic, alluring landscape descriptions of farmland, forests, mountains, etc. ON THE PAGE that makes the reader wishes they were there. Specifically from POV of a car or train or even from a hotel room.

                      Have seen movies with such grand scenes but when you go to the script, on the page, it's 2 or 3 sentences of blah.

                      Thanks,.
                      A few considerations.

                      POV. Views from a car, train, or even hotel room, unless a very high floor, can be limiting. Many "sweeping shots" come from a bird's eye view, which is on a plane (not airplane) above a person's POV at ground level.

                      When writing scene description word choice and focal points become vital. There is no need for excess here. A talented writer can imbue majesty or dystopia with a few well-chosen words. Often it is poetic. Look for inspiration in more than a typical travel postcard shot, because you can learn a lot from hellish visuals as much as from the beautiful-- think the opening war scene of GLADIATOR (war). Dances with Wolves might be another place for inspiration.

                      Think in filmic terms. Shots that move, from smooth flowing ones that glide to ones that jar us with turbulence. Nothing is more boring than a static shot, unless there is a provocative reason for it.

                      Use motion: speed, rising, falling, spiralling, inverted, floating, sinking, gliding, rocketing.

                      Use creative visual techniques: temperature, light, color saturation, contrast, depth of field, shifting focus, scale.

                      Use sound-- from concussive beats that wake us up to sounds that calm and even barely audible sounds that make us "lean in" to concentrate (ex. tape recording scene in The Sixth Sense).

                      Consider seasonality and extreme locations (frozen landscapes and arid deserts) and TIME of day.

                      Mislead the audience with an image that transforms/reveals itself into something unexpected. Use tempo, cadence and sentence length... shorter burst of descriptive action move faster, complete sentences can allow a scene to breathe. You can use one word sentences... for example: "One. Last. Time." They can even be one word per paragraph. A good example of this is the script A QUIET PLACE. Unique in its execution, really.

                      You can even use smell and taste... A couple quick examples.... "Choking black clouds so dense they leave an acrid taste in our mouth." Or, "She stands stock-still beneath the canopy of cherry blossoms, inhaling their sweet fragrance one last time before cocking the hammer back and filling her head with lead." I could see that as a shocking opening line.

                      One of my favorites?From the opening of The Bourne Identity...
                      DARKNESS. THE SOUND OF WIND AND SPRAY.

                      MUSIC. TITLES. 1

                      EXT. OCEAN -- NIGHT 1
                      The darkness is actually water. A SEARCHLIGHT arcs across heavy ocean swells. Half-a-dozen flashlights -- weaker beams -- racing along what we can see is the deck of an aging FISHING TRAWLER.
                      This isn't about overwriting. It's about careful selection to execute your vision/intent. Sometimes a full paragraph is most effective, sometimes it's a single word. Narrow your focus to the most impactful imagery/sounds to 1) produce an emotional response and 2) provide enough for the reader's mind to fill in scene. You have a lot in your toolbox to draw from.

                      Lots to consider.
                      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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                      • #12
                        Re: finalact's, sc111's and the other responses made me realize my original thought was too simplistic. But have given me new ideas already. Thanks.

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                        • #13
                          Tip -- Get to the cool stuff! I don't think scripts sell based on just your description of mountains. We know what mountains look it.

                          But when you have to write action or horror or you are set in a place that isn't what normal world like The Matrix -- then you do have to set up a ton more than a Western in my opinion.

                          If you write what I write my action can be very little.

                          Keep is make your action not boring like any words you put down.

                          If it takes 3 sentences -- go for it. But my guess is you can get away with 2. And really maybe 1. And if you can used just one word -- just do it.

                          EXT. SPACE - DAY

                          A scene out of Star Wars.

                          I cheated - but we've seen this. So that's more helpful I think than 10 action lines.



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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
                            Re: finalact's, sc111's and the other responses made me realize my original thought was too simplistic. But have given me new ideas already. Thanks.
                            I just want to add one thing: though you can't predict it, the reader's taste in how much non-action description they'll tolerate is also a factor.

                            My bestie, also a writer (prose), has no patience for a lot of description even in a novel.

                            I sent her the first 10 pages of the novel I'm working on specifically to see if she blew her top over the descriptive prose.

                            She laughed saying she was glad I put on the brakes in the opening after 3 sentences but a 4th sentence would've pissed her off. You'd be surprised how many readers reject too much description.

                            That's why, in my scripts especially, I strive for "less is more."
                            Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                            • #15
                              It's the main reason I don't like to read books! I love the stories in them, but I'm the reason they adapt everything because I feel most people just want a good 100 page story and don't want to read 500 page novels of the same thing when less would do.

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