Screenwriting, Structure

Screenwriting: A Double F*#%ing Rainbow

0 Comments 12 August 2013

Can you imagine that somewhere there exists a colour that no one has ever seen?

Sure you can.

Can you imagine that colour?  What does it look like?

No, right?


That’s the conundrum of learning screen storytelling.  It’s easy to imagine that there’s something else outside the familiar story spectrum. So we convince ourselves that there must be.

But then when you try to imagine what that is, you find everything you come up with sits inside the story spectrum.

How many colours are there in the rainbow?  8 right? Our old friends ROYGBIV

So how come my computer monitor claims to display 16million colours?  WTF?

How is that possible?

Through the magic of combination. The subtle shades in between pure colours.

Just like a rainbow, the familiar story spectrum isn’t restrictive. Any more than the existing visible light spectrum is restrictive.

Embrace it.  Learn how to harness it and the rules that govern how its relationships work and how human beings perceive it (just like painters and photographers do! Just like musicians, composers an music producers do with auditory spectrum!) then you will be equipping yourself with the ability to access and employ virtually infinite story variations / colours.

Alternatively, you could waste years of your life and energy chasing the illusive idea that there is a colour outside the familiar visible spectrum that, if we try hard enough, we can make people see.

Reality check.  It’s never going to happen.

Screenwriting is not about finding a new unseen colour. It’s about what you do with the ones we’ve already got.  Accessing the universally shared perceptions and experiences of the familiar spectrum, and combining and presenting them in ways that make the viewer see them afresh – an appreciate the full value that they always possessed.

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Script Dojo is the screenwriting blog of Steve Vidler, screenwriter, script consultant and film-maker. It's where I come to wrestle with ideas about what makes great screenwriting. After more than 20 years in the business I still find it challenging and exciting every time I take on a new story idea. Sometimes I emerge victorious. Sometimes I get kicked in the face. All part of the fun. By sharing my thoughts here I hope to help you get kicked in face less often.

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