Just came down from the high that was the Nashville Screenwriters Conference. I don’t know if it’s the best screenwriters conference in this great United States, but it’s close. It’s better than Austin, I can tell you that. You get the same amazing A-list talent that you get at Austin, and the same massive infusion of wisdom flowing from panelists to attendees… but the Nashville conference is a much smaller crowd and attendees have a ton more access to the visiting dignitaries.
Check it out. None of the panelists will read your script after the conference is over (it’s Nashville, not Bizarro World) but you can talk to them and rub elbows with them and ask any question you want and find out what sort of cigars they smoke if you want to give them a nice gift.
Over the three day event, one thing was hammered home more than any other.
It is what they are looking for. Really and truly. The panelists said it over and over and OVER. Buyers want to read a screenplay that sounds like YOU wrote it. They really want to read a screenplay that ONLY YOU could have written, which is a combination of tone, subject matter, and voice.
Voice is how the words sound on the page.
How you use language.
If you have a rhythm to your speech.
Does the scene description sound like a bland robot wrote it… or a WRITER with a point of view?
Does it sound like this person is “in charge” of the read?
Does it sound like only one person could have written it?
Does it read like it’s going to be interesting?
Does the script read like it’s the only script in the history of the world that reads like this?
Are we entertained by the writing or bored?
The screenplay still has to move and be clear and tell the story and all those things… but “don’t be boring” applies to voice as well as story.
Man, they talked about it and talked about it.
Readers want to pick up a script and know ON PAGE ONE that they’re being taken on an interesting ride. Emphasis on “ride.” I almost said, “journey” but that sounds a little dull. An E-ticket is what they’re looking for, those readers, and an E-ticket means story as well as the reading experience. If you have got a great story, they can’t tell that on page one or five… but if you have a masterful, original, interesting, compelling VOICE, they are going to know that on page one.
They’re going to know that on the top half of page one.
So find your own unique voice and have at it!
Check out the Black List for examples of superb, unforgettable voice.