In the realm of storytelling, authors face the legitimate challenge of describing in physical terms the whirlwind of details and complexities circulating throughout their mind. As a writer progresses in his knowledge and artistry, he develops his own method of conveying his story within the parameters of his art. While the cultivation of these individualized techniques is not universal, the delivery of stories through screenplays offers guidance through established writing techniques, or suggestions. Perhaps the most important of these guidelines is determining if you’re telling the story too much through dialogue and not enough through visual artistry.
Falling into the trap of over-using dialogue is universal amongst all genres. The true fault with this technique is the limitation of visual storytelling.
Importance of Visual Storytelling
When is comes down to it, screenwriters are storytellers. They have a desire to put an internal story onto paper so others may enjoy and possible grow from its cloaked messages and lessons. Here lies the problem, many screenwriters (especially those just venturing into this method of storytelling) fall into the belief structure that dialogue quantity directly affects the audience’s ability to follow the story or understand hidden story lines/messages. This is a major flaw within the mindset of these screenwriters.
While dialogue is very important for many films, some of the most highly acclaimed films are those with minimal dialogue. These movies are regarded as having wonderful dialogue not because of the amount but because of the quality.
You must learn to tell the whole story through dialogue and visual elements. The goal of every scene is to maintain audience interest from beginning to end. You could have a wonderful story, but if it’s delivered in an easy manner (all major story plots are clearly identifiable and explained) the audience will likely grow tired of the story.
Modern audiences prefer stories that provide all necessary information to truly delve into their world, but they don’t necessarily want all vital story clues simply handed out to them through dialogue (or visual markers, for that matter).
Throughout my experience, I’ve found this situation occurs when a writer chooses to over-explain through dialogue. While certain gems are found amongst the block of text nestled underneath character names, the bulk of what’s said does nothing but detract from mystery every screenplay must contain whether a comedy, suspense, horror or drama.
Challenge yourself as a writer and attempt give away vital story clues not through dialogue, but hidden through visual storytelling elements you construct to navigate with mystery.