How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

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  • #31
    Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

    Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post
    finalact4, your opinion is confusing me.

    I thought muckracker was talking about the writer's overall voice, which includes tone, but you say muckracker was talking only specifically about tone.

    Are you saying muckracker's point is that if you take 10 writers and give them a comedy premise/concept the tone of the material would end up being told with ten different attitudes, such as, farcical, dark, arrogant, formal, informal, etc.?
    he said, beat for beat... he believes the choice of words will make him the Edgar Allan Poe of screenwriters... at least in his children's eyes
    Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

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    • #32
      Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

      Originally posted by Julysses View Post
      he said, beat for beat... he believes the choice of words will make him the Edgar Allan Poe of screenwriters... at least in his children's eyes
      Now I'm really lost. Where's my North Star?

      Comment


      • #33
        Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

        Originally posted by Julysses View Post
        I really am confused as to how a choice of words in the action lines can raise tension -- sure, it makes for a better read, but it's is all about the beat and scene writing
        If you're intending to direct it yourself and you've lined up the financing, then I'd agree.

        But if you're going through the traditional route of getting producers, execs, talent, and financers to believe in a film when all they've seen is a screenplay, then words are important in conveying a vision.

        That's not to say that action lines require long descriptions, intricate poetry, or snarky Shane Blackisms. But every choice a writer makes is a creative decision that impacts the read and, therefore, the viability of the project.

        So, yes, word choice in action lines is important in conveying tone and pace, and is therefore important in getting a film from page to screen.

        Choosing the right word for the right moment is just part of writing. I don't know why there's an argument about this.

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        • #34
          Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

          Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
          I don't know what you mean by having fun.

          And you can keep on saying the above and, sorry about this -- you can just plain keep being dead wrong.

          A screenwriter has a voice in every word of the screenplay.

          Yes, every word. Even slug lines -- because every word you write is a choice you make that informs the tone of your work.

          I've written slug lines like these:

          EXT. A REALM OF FIRE AND DARKNESS

          EXT. NOWHERE - NIGHT

          EXT. THE DEPTHS OF SPACE - LATE AFTERNOON

          You read these slug lines and, before you read a single word of the action or a single word of dialogue and you've already been given a sense of the tone of what's going to follow.

          I don't know what you mean by "contrive to the usual format."

          Really, it just has nothing to do with how real screenwriters right real screenplays.

          Formatting has to do with margins and what gets capitalized and scene headings and things like that.

          There are more general rules that relate to readability and clarity but the broadest and most central "rule" is to engage the reader and write scenes that are memorable -- and that doesn't just mean writing dialogue that is memorable.

          If you don't want to believe this -- that's up to you.

          NMS
          I've heard people pushback on sluglines like these ("Hey man, you're breaking the rules!"). Personally I like them better than the flat ones. Btw - I've also done "NOWHERE".

          I've written some like EXT. ASPHYXIATION - NOW

          I know some people don't like that because "where the hell is that, and when is now?" Too cute? Maybe. But if in the following action line we see a guy trapped in a box sinking to the bottom of the ocean fighting to free himself and I clearly describe it as night, I told you where we're at one second later, so I personally like those intriguing sluglines. They make me actually want to READ the slug instead of skipping it.
          Bruh, fukkin *smooches*! Feel me? Ha!

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          • #35
            Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

            Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post
            finalact4, your opinion is confusing me.

            I thought muckracker was talking about the writer's overall voice, which includes tone, but you say muckracker was talking only specifically about tone.

            Are you saying muckracker's point is that if you take 10 writers and give them a comedy premise/concept the tone of the material would end up being told with ten different attitudes, such as, farcical, dark, arrogant, formal, informal, etc.?
            sorry to confuse you JoeNYC.

            either way, it doesn't matter. tone could be different. and voice will absolutely be different.
            "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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            • #36
              Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

              Originally posted by Julysses View Post
              so the words I choose in the action lines will raise tension in the movie that's show in theaters?
              the way the words on the page are written, raise the degree and intensity of the tension and suspense in the script.

              the director's interpretation of those words through visual images, editing, and sound determine the degree of tension and suspense in the finished film.

              No, it's the beats on the page that raise tension in the script
              you're wrong, imo. it's the way the words are written that raise and increase the tension in the script.

              These are basic to do with being a screenwriter or playwrite .. are there times I would break the rules? sure... if there's a reason to do so... it's all about the pejorative and concept of the script

              A screenwriter could conceive that they don't want to break up dialog on the page, and after the initial slugline, write a paragraph description of direction -- use only dialog until the next slug or scene

              you could write a script about a deaf person and have no dialog and write sparingly, down the page to fit the concept of a screenplay format
              i honestly don't know what your point is in the last paragraph. sorry.

              here's an example of the exact same beats. which one has more tension? which one is more entertaining to read? can you feel the difference in tone? which one has a vision a director might be attracted to? can you feel the difference in rising tension and anxiety. can you hear the writer's VOICE?

              EXT. PLAINS - DAY

              Three men walk from the shade.

              Bald. No ears. Hairless. And white.

              They could be tall.

              They are ENGINEERS.

              Two of them wear robes. One is naked.

              One holds a box. He opens it. A cake inside it. It's dark.

              The naked man moves to eat the cake.

              Bugs crawl out of the cake onto the man. There are a lot of bugs.

              The bugs eat the man.
              now compare the tension and anxiety to this... the exact same beats. tell me which is more entertaining? tell me, if you wrote the same 'beats' it wouldn't feel different from either of these in tone and voice.

              EXT. LOWLAND PLAIN - DAY

              THREE FIGURES walk out of the shadow.

              They are men - and yet not men. Their skin is snow-white.
              Their features heavy and classical - as if Rodin’s Thinker
              had risen from his seat. Their smooth heads are earless and
              hairless. Their glittering eyes entirely black.

              Against the stark land their height is impossible to judge.

              They are ENGINEERS.

              Two of them are cloaked in dark robes of strange design.
              The third is naked.

              One of the cloaked Engineers opens a featureless black box:
              inside lies a cake of dark, sticky material.

              The naked one lifts the dark cake with ceremonial slowness.
              It hums and buzzes. Foams into iridescent spheres. He raises
              the seething cake to his mouth like the sacrament.

              BLACK SCARABS boil out of the dark material. Swarm over his
              lips. Glittering insects that chitter and bite.

              Under the swarm his lips melt away. A horrific vision of
              teeth, black blood, dissolving bone. They are devouring him.
              word choice matters. this example is from Jon Spaihts Alien Engineers.
              "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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              • #37
                Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                the way the words on the page are written, raise the degree and intensity of the tension and suspense in the script.

                the director's interpretation of those words through visual images, editing, and sound determine the degree of tension and suspense in the finished film.



                you're wrong, imo. it's the way the words are written that raise and increase the tension in the script.



                i honestly don't know what your point is in the last paragraph. sorry.

                here's an example of the exact same beats. which one has more tension? which one is more entertaining to read? can you feel the difference in tone? which one has a vision a director might be attracted to? can you feel the difference in rising tension and anxiety. can you hear the writer's VOICE?



                now compare the tension and anxiety to this... the exact same beats. tell me which is more entertaining? tell me, if you wrote the same 'beats' it wouldn't feel different from either of these in tone and voice.



                word choice matters. this example is from Jon Spaihts Alien Engineers.
                Funny you used that script as an example. I actually attended a cocktail party at Jon's house while he was writing it. He showed me his white board. Sorta interesting to see his breakdown. I don't remember if I had fallen into writing yet at that point. I don't know him personally, I was dating his friend, and considered renting another of his friend's houses.

                But, yeah, I prefer his version.
                Bruh, fukkin *smooches*! Feel me? Ha!

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                  Originally posted by Bunker View Post
                  If you're intending to direct it yourself and you've lined up the financing, then I'd agree.

                  But if you're going through the traditional route of getting producers, execs, talent, and financers to believe in a film when all they've seen is a screenplay, then words are important in conveying a vision.

                  That's not to say that action lines require long descriptions, intricate poetry, or snarky Shane Blackisms. But every choice a writer makes is a creative decision that impacts the read and, therefore, the viability of the project.

                  So, yes, word choice in action lines is important in conveying tone and pace, and is therefore important in getting a film from page to screen.

                  Choosing the right word for the right moment is just part of writing. I don't know why there's an argument about this.
                  obviously you want to choose your words wisely, but you're writing stage direction, not a novel

                  I don't think that a great choice of words with the action lines going to sell a script, it's going to be concept and execution

                  if you want to be creative, you should focus on characterization and dialog(as originally stated)
                  Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                    Final, I think you are hyperfocused on that you can tell a story with the action lines... you need to the Actors and Director do their work

                    here I'll write a short scene:

                    INT - KITCHEN - DAY

                    Judy chops vegetables. John enters...

                    JUDY
                    I got a call from your girlfriend, Carol is it? She says she's pregnant!

                    Judy grips the knife tightly

                    She lunges at John

                    -or-

                    INT - KITCHEN - DAY

                    Judy chops vegetables. John enters...

                    JUDY
                    I got a call from your girlfriend, Carol is it? She says she's pregnant!

                    Judy falls to the ground and weeps uncontrollably

                    she raises the knife to her throat
                    both are hugely different and give all the stage direction an actor needs.

                    if you're writing a description and want to add a little bit, maybe, but I would keep it tame, IMHO
                    Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                      Originally posted by Julysses View Post

                      Quote:
                      INT - KITCHEN - DAY

                      Judy chops vegetables. John enters...

                      JUDY
                      I got a call from your girlfriend, Carol is it? She says she's pregnant!

                      Judy grips the knife tightly

                      She lunges at John

                      -or-

                      Quote:
                      INT - KITCHEN - DAY

                      Judy chops vegetables. John enters...

                      JUDY
                      I got a call from your girlfriend, Carol is it? She says she's pregnant!

                      Judy falls to the ground and weeps uncontrollably

                      she raises the knife to her throat

                      both are hugely different and give all the stage direction an actor needs.

                      if you're writing a description and want to add a little bit, maybe, but I would keep it tame, IMHO
                      Julysses, Your two examples tell us and the actor two different ways for the actor to behave in a situation. How do your examples pertain to tone and voice in the narrative of a screenplay?

                      Why even give that kind of specific stage direction? The actor will know their character and do what she thinks is right for the moment.

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                      • #41
                        Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                        Originally posted by Julysses View Post
                        obviously you want to choose your words wisely, but you're writing stage direction, not a novel

                        I don't think that a great choice of words with the action lines going to sell a script, it's going to be concept and execution

                        if you want to be creative, you should focus on characterization and dialog(as originally stated)
                        I'm not quite sure what position you're arguing. I agree - a screenplay is fundamentally different than a novel or a poem. I don't see anyone disagreeing with that. Other posters are using examples from novels and poems as illustrations of the power of word choice, but I don't see anyone advocating for writing screenplays in verse or long blocks of 3rd limited past-tense.

                        If you're arguing that writers can go too far with their action lines, then sure, I imagine that everyone agrees with that too.

                        But you seem to believe that there's an either/or at play here. That, somehow, conveying tone and pace in the action lines is done at the expense of story, character, and dialogue. Maybe that's true for some writers. Good writers can do both.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                          Originally posted by Julysses View Post
                          Final, I think you are hyperfocused on that you can tell a story with the action lines... you need to the Actors and Director do their work
                          i am focused on talking about the written word, which is the point of this thread. i'm not talking about how directors and actors interpret a screenplay into a finished film.

                          actors and directors are not present in a screenplay. they are not influencing the story, its narrative direction, or the characters with their own vision or interpretation of the written word.

                          the screenplay stands alone on the words on its pages.

                          i stand by the two examples i gave. the exact same beats-- one is more entertaining and presents better storytelling. it has tone and voice, which infuses the pages with a sense of wonder, dread, anxiety and horror, whereas the first does not.

                          the scene in the second example was basically the opening scene in Prometheus. watch it and you'll feel the same tone as in the script.

                          i'm not sure what you're trying to say with the two examples other than action lines dictate intention, which i agree with.

                          Bunker said it well-- good writers can do both.
                          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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                          • #43
                            Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                            Originally posted by Bunker View Post
                            I'm not quite sure what position you're arguing. I agree - a screenplay is fundamentally different than a novel or a poem. I don't see anyone disagreeing with that. Other posters are using examples from novels and poems as illustrations of the power of word choice.
                            Originally posted by muckraker View Post
                            I've read BALLS OUT back in the day and sure it's good.

                            The example actually seem to be confirming the OP's hypothesis, which is that the way it's written helps it stand out and heightens the storytelling. The voice.

                            I would argue that ten people can write the same screenplay, beat for beat, without altering the dialogue even, and convey the story in a different voice. Having a good voice can be the difference between a great story poorly or competently executed and an all-around great script.
                            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                            i agree completely.

                            of course, changing some of the dialogue would be optimum to capitalize on the overall tone as well.
                            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                            what mudraker is saying is that if you took different writers.. Shane Black, Jon Spaihts, James Cameron, and even any one of us, that you could... have a different tone and would definitely have a different voice... from each of them, even if they were writing the same beats.

                            this has nothing to do with the difference between screenplays and novels. btw, you can be poetic in screenplays and still be efficient, concise, and economic.
                            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                            you have a scene. you have an emotional word that you want to express in that scene. for example dread and you write the entire scene from that point of view. if there is more than one character one character's words and expressions can apply "dread" and the other can contrast "dread." this technique can amplify the emotion, heighten the experience.

                            it taught you how to communicate a feeling, mood, and emotions through word choice and sentence structure to create fear, dread, tension, suspense, surprise, rising action, etc. and the beauty of it, is that once you understand how to do this, you just always do it. it becomes a part of your style.
                            ...haha

                            in the in-fighting about semantics in sorta out of hand at this point, but yes.

                            you're like the 100th person to come on and debate the subject instead of discussing the actual topic.

                            Originally posted by Bunker View Post
                            If you're arguing that writers can go too far with their action lines, then sure, I imagine that everyone agrees with that too.

                            But you seem to believe that there's an either/or at play here. That, somehow, conveying tone and pace in the action lines is done at the expense of story, character, and dialogue. Maybe that's true for some writers. Good writers can do both.
                            my point would be that you have a very limited space to convey a lot of important information

                            I would focus on Dialog and Characterization to build tension in screenplay
                            Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

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                            • #44
                              Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                              Originally posted by finalact4 View Post

                              ... i stand by the two examples i gave. the exact same beats-- one is more entertaining and presents better storytelling. it has tone and voice, which infuses the pages with a sense of wonder, dread, anxiety and horror, whereas the first does not....
                              I agree. And I'll go further -- for an unknown, unsold writer it's even more important to make anyone in the industry reading your pages "feel" something. Feel a genuine emotion.

                              Many moons ago, when I was still actively trying to break in, a previous manager wanted to go wide with a script and got an agent to hip-pocket me after she read the pages. He forwarded her email to me. She stated that the reason she would rep the script was because a particular scene made her "cry a little."

                              That took me by surprise and ended up being very educational.

                              I realized that, if an industry person reading your work feels a genuine emotion -- as you said, wonder, dread, anxiety and horror (and any other number of emotional reactions including positive emotions) -- it creates a connection not only with the work but also with the writer.

                              But here's the catch -- to elicit genuine emotion in a reader, the writer must also genuinely "feel" something when writing it. This requires brutal honesty in the work. Attempting to strategically push emotional buttons in a by-the-numbers script lapses into melodrama and will turn professionals off.

                              Lastly, what amazes me about a lot of the people who give unsolicited advice online is a tendency to underestimate the intelligence of people working in the industry who can actually move your work closer to production.

                              They're smart people. You [collective you] can't easily trick them into thinking you're a better writer than you are simply because you've followed "rules" in some screenwriting guru's book.
                              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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                              • #45
                                Re: How Tone and Voice = Writer's Style (attitude and personality)

                                Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                                I agree. And I'll go further -- for an unknown, unsold writer it's even more important to make anyone in the industry reading your pages "feel" something. Feel a genuine emotion.

                                Many moons ago, when I was still actively trying to break in, a previous manager wanted to go wide with a script and got an agent to hip-pocket me after she read the pages. He forwarded her email to me. She stated that the reason she would rep the script was because a particular scene made her "cry a little."

                                That took me by surprise and ended up being very educational.

                                I realized that, if an industry person reading your work feels a genuine emotion -- as you said, wonder, dread, anxiety and horror (and any other number of emotional reactions including positive emotions) -- it creates a connection not only with the work but also with the writer.

                                But here's the catch -- to elicit genuine emotion in a reader, the writer must also genuinely "feel" something when writing it. This requires brutal honesty in the work. Attempting to strategically push emotional buttons in a by-the-numbers script lapses into melodrama and will turn professionals off.

                                Lastly, what amazes me about a lot of the people who give unsolicited advice online is a tendency to underestimate the intelligence of people working in the industry who can actually move your work closer to production.

                                They're smart people. You [collective you] can't easily trick them into thinking you're a better writer than you are simply because you've followed "rules" in some screenwriting guru's book.
                                you empathize with a character and a situation, not a choice of words in an action line... not sure a women getting emotional is... what book are you talking about?
                                Ricky Slade: Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.

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