NonFiction ~~- The 10 Commandments Of ScreenWriting

Screenwriting Is Songwriting

Communication 2580 Characters =~2.6Min. Reading Time
Screenwriting is a type of lyric writing in which dramatic flow is essential, and rhyme and music are optional.

The below is abridged/adapted from Terry Rossio, co-author of Shrek the Movie:
WRITE YOUR SCREENPLAY IN LYRICAL STYLE:
People tend to think of screenplays [as] novels.
In truth, a script [is a form of] poetry.
[In a script as in a song,] form and structure are paramount;
the goal is to convey as much information as possible in as compact a form as possible.
Not only does every word count, every syllable counts.
Song lyrics are poetry.
I think of screenwriting as song writing.
Consider the following line as the first line of a screenplay:

The screen door slams.
Mary's dress waves.
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays.


Springsteen fans will recognize [this as] the opening line to "Thunder Road."
But [the lyric] reads great as a [screenplay's] descriptive passage.
If a screenplay began with such a simple, evocative line, I'd know I was in good hands;
I'd be hooked.
[Springsteen's] line conveys setting, tone, character, situation, with incredible efficiency [unlike long-winded prose.]
[The songwriter] describes time and place using a tiny number of syllables
-- which is what an effective style is all about.


The jobs of the screenwriter and the songwriter are identical:


The only difference is that the songwriter makes a lead-sheet, containing chords, melody, and lyrics, and style cues, whereas a script-writer writes a page of stage instructions interspersed with dialog.

We writers serve the creative artists by giving them a field to play on, and providing the balls, uniforms, goals, umpire, scoreboard, and rules of the game.
Then we let them play the game.

The person most responsible for the revitalization of animation and current golden age of animation is [songwriter] Howard Ashman. Make no mistake about it, the man was a genius, with story structure and characters as well as music. His talents and abilities are sorely missed, and may never be replaced. The songs he contributed, with Alan Menken, to LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN revitalized the entire animation industry. - Terry Rossio, co-screenwriter of Shrek