Monday, April 1, 2013

How technical to get when talking about futuristic settings?

I confess... right up until the end, I considered laying an April Fool's prank on you guys.  I even got as far as writing up some of the post until I remembered that three years later, some people STILL stumble across that fake Wonder Woman script review and buy it as legit.  (This, despite the fact that if they read the comments, they'd see people call it out for what it was.)

So today is going to be a serious post.  My apologies to all of you who are now denied my take on BACK TO THE FUTURE PART IV.

Scott asks:

With a story taking place in the not too distant future, how much technical stuff should I be including in the script itself? My script is set in NYC in the year 2026 A.D. I find myself trying to explain technical gadgets and futuristic surroundings. Should I leave these things up to Mr. Cameron when he decides he can’t wait to turn my script into his next Avatar?

My take: I don't know if "technical" is the right word.  My own feeling is that if you're trying to create a futuristic world, your description should actually do everything possible to create that sense of the advanced.  If I read a script that takes place in 2073, that would shouldn't feel like our present.  There needs to be a feel and a texture to everything that makes it evident on every page that when I watch the movie, I will not be seeing the visuals of the present day.

This is a hard thing to do.  I once read a pro script set almost a century in the future, but the writer didn't push himself enough in painting the picture of that world.  Despite my best efforts, my visualization of the script kept defaulting to present day environments.  The trick is, you still can't get caught up in technical details.  If a character gets into a flying car, obviously that needs to be said, but you don't have to spend three paragraphs explaining how the anti-gravity inducers operate.

But think about what it must be like to write a Star Wars film.  If you have characters walking through the halls of Cloud City, there are certain visuals that need to be brought to mind.  We should have a sense of what's being seen through the windows, the sorts of people filling the halls, the ornate doors, perhaps the maintenance workers who are repairing the lifts, and so on.  If you're describing the carbon freezing chamber, don't just say it's a big room with smoke and a platform, really try to give us a sense of what it feels like to be in that room.

Think of any major scene in the Star Wars trilogy, and it's a good bet that it's in a memorable environment, whether it's the cantina of Mos Eisley, the Emperor's throne room, the corridors of the Death Star, or the decadence of Jabba's Palace.  A reader doesn't necessarily need technical details like the exact dimensions of the room, but it sure helps us to have enough information to visualize those settings.

We're not mind-readers, so if you envision a setting that goes beyond run-of-the-mill, make sure the words on the page aid us in that.


  1. the wonder woman thing was genius. I still remembering reading it, being pretty new to the blog and being like, what? I read it twice then said, okay, he's got to be fucking around. lol. First impressions are very hard to shake.

  2. A Fan's Cut

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    if you have time then please take a look.

    I'm also looking to collaborate with a screenwriter.

    Comments are welcome

    Sorry for disturbing,thanks.