When I first decided that I wanted to have a go at “film-making” rather than just recording events as they happened, I knew that one of the key things I would need would need would be a script. However, I’d never really looked at a script before, and didn’t know what should be in it.
I’m somewhat embarrased to say that what I produced and gave to my actors was not really a script at all. What I gave them was just the dialogue, with no indication of what was happening, or why. Naturally the actors found it very hard to work with such vague information. If I had not been both writer and director, it would never have happened at all.
To avoid mistakes like that, it’s important to read lots of scripts. It’s also vital to practice writing the stuff that goes in between the dialogue (known as “action description”) so that everyone involved gets the same feel for what the production is all about.
Derek Haas at The Blank Page has some useful tips on how to improve your action descriptions. Read more at The Blank Page: Fatal Mistakes: Boring Action-Descriptions.