David Mamet is an amazing writer, known for his award winning plays, screenplays, books and televisi¬†on shows. He’s also a director and he has a quite famous rant in the form of a letter that he wrote to writers of The Unit, a¬†TV show since cancelled.

It shows how well he understands dramatic writing (he won the Pulitzer Prize for drama) but also visual storytelling.

Here’s one of my favorite sections: (The original is , famously, in all caps.)

REMEMBER YOU ARE WRITING FOR A VISUAL MEDIUM. MOST TELEVISION WRITING, OURS INCLUDED, SOUNDS LIKE RADIO. THE CAMERA CAN DO THE EXPLAINING FOR YOU. LET IT. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERS DOING -*LITERALLY*. WHAT ARE THEY HANDLING, WHAT ARE THEY READING. WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING ON TELEVISION, WHAT ARE THEY SEEING. IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA. IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF NARRATION, EXPOSITION,INDEED, OF SPEECH. YOU WILL BE FORGED TO WORK IN A NEW MEDIUM – TELLING THE STORY IN PICTURES (ALSO KNOWN AS SCREENWRITING)

 

Print Friendly