Emotional Density

Many times screenplays are simply dry. They may be cleanly written, even well written to some degree. The plotting can make sense. The characters may even be charming. But they leave me feeling thirsty for more. The experience of the script feels like tissue paper – it just has no density. As a reader, I experience a physical sensation of lack.

Well-written screenplays are dense. There may only be a handful of words in a sequence, but those words will be evocative enough to create a dense, rich world. The characters feel alive – I feel as though I know them. The world feels real.

That is what you should aspire to in your work.

Many scripts in today’s world may look great on the page and even have a clever or fundamentally interesting premise. Sometimes a concept can be enough to propel the reader along the journey, especially if it’s a good enough concept to think, ‘this could get rewritten and be a great script.’

However, if the words on the page start to accumulate and the world doesn’t gain density and richness because of it, it’s disappointing. There just isn’t enough emotional density to the journey to warrant the read and make it stand out.

As a reader, I want to feel along with the characters – love, loss, excitement, thrill, fear, etc. If I’m reading and I’m not feeling anything other than ‘I’ve seen this before’ and feeling bored, that’s not good.

Emotional density usually comes from rewriting. It’s layered in. The more revisions, the more layers, the denser the read.

Give those moments to the reader where we feel for your characters, with your characters. Let those moments breathe.

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