Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why Screw It Up With Writing?

I got into a minor tiff with a client the other day because they were of the (wrong) opinion that a sell sheet needed more copy on the cover. I argued (and won) that if I were to write what we're already seeing in the artwork, it would be an oxymoron.

As writers we tend to overwrite and describe things in dialogue we are already seeing onscreen. We have to remember that first and foremost we are visualists - we "see" the movie in our head and it tells us the story. Why tell the same story twice?

What's needed and what we're looking for of course is an added layer of story.

What's interesting in design is that we work in layers. Photoshop stacks as many layers as is required to create an image. You can have your base image, background, texture, color and then text.

Same with writing. Every layer needs to be different and distinctive and yet work with the whole. Dialogue should not reinforce action or image but supplement it. Together they create the story you want and need to tell.

And then there's the moments like the above example when you just need to shut the fuck up and let the visuals carry the story. A really good visual allows the audience to bring some of themselves to it - to feel the power of the invading spaceship as it looms overhead, or wonder how the knife blade will hurt as it punches into a set of lungs, or how cool it would be to kiss that beautiful girl's soft red lips. You don't need to say how cool or painful it is - we can see that.

And boy, in the right moment do we feel it.


wcdixon said...

Can you post said example yet?

Cunningham said...

Not yet. It comes out in 2007.

wcdixon said...


Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused by the vocabulary word. This might make me sound like a jackass, but did you mean "oxymoron"? An oxymoron is two opposite words or phrases used to describe the same thing, like "idiot savante" or "bittersweet". Did you mean "redundancy"?

But as for the sentiment, good for you. Tell 'em.

Cunningham said...

They are redundant and not incongruent as in an oxymoron.