Wednesday, January 14, 2015


This book has been in my 'to read' pile for a while now. Curiosity finally got the better of me.
Do you emotionally connect with your audience?

As a writer/reader I've read a ton of scripts for clients over the years, some good, some bad and some indifferent. It's the indifferent screenplays that have been the biggest disappointment for me, as clearly the writers had talent, their ideas were solid, but their work lacked any emotional depth and therefore lacked appeal. No emotional impact = no connection with the reader. Very frustrating!

A new writer recently sent me the first two screenplays he had written and while they lacked any technical ability, I could clearly see the emotional core in each piece. The fact his writing lacked technicality in structure, plot, character and dialogue didn't matter, as I could tell he was writing from the heart, and his stories drew me in. I know for sure that when he learns the technical side of his craft he's going to be a very powerful writer indeed.

I've always been of the opinion that an emotional connection with an audience is something that comes naturally and can't be taught. I find it easy to write with an emotional eye, creating ideas and characters than move me, most of the time without even thinking about it. Surely it couldn't be taught? Karl's book was to prove me wrong.

Unlike other screenwriting books Karl's focuses entirely on how to emotionally connect with your audience, to involve them in your characters' journeys and have the audience hooked from start to finish, which sets it aside from pretty much every other screenwriting book I've read previously. At the most other screenwriting guides have only briefly touched on the subject.

Karl doesn't just talk about high concept, he delves deeper, investigating what makes an idea appealing in the first place, going beyond the story to discuss genre, ways to improve your idea's appeal and how a screenplay's title can be used to draw an audience in. He doesn't stop there. Theme and uuniversal meaning are also explored, empathy with characters, their situations, the obstacles they face, what they say, what they don't, rising tension, mesmerising moments, engaging the audience and most importantly, how every scene plays a part in building a memorable experience for the audience.

In fact since reading Karl's book I've been trying to remember reading another book that goes into so much detail and examines so microscopically how every written word can have an emotional impact, and I have to admit I came up blank.

The biggest idea (and revelation, if I'm honest - why I never thought of this before I have no idea) in the book for me was Karl's insistence that we, as screenwriters, are only writing for one person and one person only. That person is the READER. And he's right. We're not writing for those movie goers sat munching their popcorn in the cinema, or those couch potatoes sat at home watching TV, we are writing to please the READER - who will be the one deciding whether our screenplay is worthy of progression or not. When you think of it like that it truly helps to focus the mind and helps make the whole process seem that little less daunting.

If you haven't got a copy of this book go and buy one right now, your writing will be a lot richer for it.

Happy writing.

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