Part 2) What Makes Your Voice Fresh?
In Part 1 we brought a better understanding to what the Screenwriter’s Voice is, and equally important is understanding what makes the screenwriter’s voice Fresh. Every writer has their own unique voice, but what makes their voice fresh? For a voice to be considered fresh, it needs to connect with and excite an audience.
Film is one of the most powerful forms of communication known to man. Why would somebody make a film just to keep for themselves? The point of film is to show, and for the viewer to share the experience. The very purpose of film is to reach, entertain and sometimes even influence the public.
Unlike many other artistic endeavors, film is hugely expensive and labor-intensive. Film is a multi-million and these days even a multi-billion dollar business. It is to be respected as a business as much as an art form. Even the cheapest of films cost a lot of money to make and no investor would give money to a project that didn’t have an intended audience.
Crafting a story that resonates with an audience will determine whether a voice is fresh or not. So ask yourself as you write, who your audience is and why they should care about your story. What part of my story will resonate with an audience and why? Knowing this vital information early in the process will pay dividends throughout.
Consider this. In most forms of writing other than screenwriting, there is a direct relationship between the writer and the audience. The audience, or the reader, absorbs the writers’ words and those words have a direct impact on them as they read. In film and television, however, the writer is faced with certain limitations in connecting with their audience. Firstly, during the writing process a screenwriter is restricted by only being able to write what is seen and heard on screen. This becomes especially tricky when trying to convey a character’s thoughts or motivations. Secondly, after the script is written, the writer’s voice is constantly being reinterpreted and envisioned by dozens of individuals, from the producers to the director, the actors, the cinematographer, the production designer, even to the editor, before the final product reaches its audience.
Have you ever played the schoolyard game Telephone? By the time you get around the circle of people the original message has been reinterpreted and become something very different indeed. In the same way, you can imagine a writer’s voice effectively being lost during the collaborative process of film. It stands to reason then that the screenwriter must have a powerful voice that is able to retain its essence through the various interpretations, to still have the intended impact on its audience.
Your writing essentially needs to elicit an emotional response from an audience who will never read your words. It is for this reason that in writing for film, unlike other written mediums, you must be conscious of whom you are writing for. The relationship a screenwriter has with their audience may understandably feel like a distant one, but it is in fact a very unique one that allows a writer to touch their audience in very potent ways. Indeed, it is within this dichotomy that the beauty of screenwriting is found.
Remember, film and TV audiences do not read a script; they see it, they hear it, they experience it and they feel it. And when that voice connects with an audience, when it resonates, when it transcends the page and takes the audience on a transformative and emotive journey, it becomes “Fresh”. Take advantage of this as you write and consider your audience early in the writing process as they will ultimately be the ones who determine whether you voice is fresh or not.