COVERSCRIPT TIPS – A Heated Disagreement

A heated disagreement.

In this case, about two teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy phrases. And a personal much-detested pet peeve.

Contained wrath is the immediate reaction when I run across them during a screenplay or teleplay read/analysis.

They make me rant and rave like a lunatic, the air turning blue with the off-color language that’s streaming through my head, making its way to my vocal chords to escape through clenched teeth, inarticulately mumbled to keep from shocking my tough-as-nails cat sprawled at my feet.

Some screen writers, including some who are very successful, use them and argue their virtues. And I still fail to see anything virtuous about them.

These two phrases are: “We hear” and “We see.”

My immediate reaction is, “Who the Hell are ‘we’?” Followed by, in no particular order, “Are ‘we’ in this film, perhaps invisible?” “Do ‘we’ get paid like the other actors?” “Is someone else reading this with me?”

The cat doesn’t count since he hasn’t yet learned to read.

Using these two phrases is a writing cop-out.  Because it’s easy; without them a screen writer is forced to Show not Tell.

Besides, “we” are in the theater seats watching, or in our office chairs reading, not in the &%#$@% story!

With the dreaded phrases:

“We see a magnificent horse canter across the field.”

“We hear a train traveling down the tracks getting louder as it goes past the old town hotel.”

Without the dreaded phrases:

“A magnificent horse canters across the field.”

“The railroad tracks quake as the Baltimore-Pacific thunders past the old town hotel.”

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