Many times, screenwriters try to tell the actors how to react to situations through dialogue and action sequences. While this may seem like a good idea, because honestly, how is a stranger supposed to know how to invoke the spirit of your character? Answer: because they are actors, and that’s what they do. The best screenplays are those that provide actors with a blueprint for a character, but then allow the actor to make his own choices regarding emotional exaggerations.
As a screenwriter you must learn to leave all exaggeration on the cutting room floor. Don’t ever include unnecessary exaggerations as this will read very strange during rehearsals.
Understated is Always Best
Understating the emotional landscape of a character through dialogue is one of the most challenging aspects of being a screenwriter. The reason for this is because as a writer you intimately know your character and the challenges they are currently or will be facing in the future. With this type of knowledge, it’s easy to exaggerate certain emotions – especially when it comes to interacting with other characters.
One of the most important rules to remember while writing is understating the true emotional intention and feelings is always best. Don’t take this to extremes, though. Understated emotions doesn’t mean ignoring them – it simply refers to keeping emotions from being too exaggerated. Sometimes in the scope of screenwriting it can be difficult to keep emotions diluted; however, you must do so as you must provide actors with an opportunity to explore this character and reveal what is necessary.
You’re Writing a Blueprint for Actors
It’s very common for screenwriters to forget that they aren’t writing as an actor, but rather, they’re writing to provide actors with a blueprint for emotions and relationships. When you look at produced screenplays you’ll notice that much of the emotional subtext or actual text is left out of the script. The reason for this is because actors are the ones responsible for providing this element to the performance.
Always make sure you’re writing with the understanding that you’re providing an actor with a blueprint. This blueprint is then transformed into an actual building by the skills and talents of this performing professional.