COVERSCRIPT TIPS – Adverbs are Evil

Adverbs are evil…at least when writing screenplay action blocks/narrative description.

Writing action blocks using adverbs is yet another writing cop-out.

It makes for easier writing, yes. But it’s also telling the story, not showing it.

And the screenwriting mantra is SHOW DON’T TELL.

In fact, writing narrative description using adverbs is not only telling, it’s telling how.

“He loudly talks.” He talks. How? “Loudly.”

Writing narrative description without the use of adverbs actually forces a screenwriter to write visually. Visual screenwriting is much more enjoyable for the reader of the screenplay, and it also allows the reader to “see” how the film would play out on screen as the reader is reading — something you want a reader to be able to do.

With adverbs:

The beastly monster relentlessly chases Frank through the house, following him to the door, which Frank quickly closes after rapidly running outside. But the monster angrily breaks through the door.

Without adverbs:

The Beast stomps after a hell-bent for leather Frank. Headed for the door, Frank plows through it, slamming it behind him. The Beast roars! A split second ticks…and the nightmare’s ten-inch talons make confetti out of the door.

If you were a reader, which would you rather read, and which would you more likely give a favorable review?

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