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On What's a Screenplay

By Syd Field

What is a Screenplay?

Most people ask me the same thing about the craft of screenwriting: What's the most common problem I find with people writing scripts? I tell them that most of the problems I encounter deal with 'telling their story in dialogue,' not pictures. A screenplay is a story told with pictures, in dialogue and description, and placed within the context of dramatic structure.

On Exposition

The most evident change in screenwriting within the last 10 years is this: There is no explanation needed. As a writer, you do not have to explain to the audience the thoughts, feelings or emotions of your character. No explanation. That does not mean you don't need some exposition -- that is, 'information necessary to keep the story moving forward.' A scene in the screenplay will always serve one of two functions: either it moves the story forward, or it reveals information about the character.

Meet the Author: Syd Field

Acclaimed as "the guru of all screenwriters" (CNN), Syd Field is regarded by many Hollywood professionals to be the leading authority in the art and craft of screenwriting in the world today. The Hollywood Reporter calls him "the most sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world."

His internationally acclaimed best-selling books Screenplay, The Screenwriter's Workbook, and The Screenwriter's Problem Solver have established themselves as the "bibles" of the film industry. They are used in more than 395 colleges and universities and have been translated into 19 languages.

Field chaired the Academic Liaison Committee at T...