In screenwriting, you have to cover a lot of ground with very few words (a mentor of mine once described it as "the thong bikini of writing.") Instead of spending a half page describing a character, I have to do it in a sentence. And it better be a good sentence, specific and vivid enough to help everyone from a casting director to a costume designer bring that person to life. ...Read the whole thing. Though Wech claims screenwriting in particular is known for its economy of language, I'd argue that all good writing involves putting the perfect word in its particular place. Even the efforts of authors who churn out epic sentences and paragraphs feel more impressive than expansive when they're paying attention to craft. The challenge for me (and a few others, I bet) lies in wanting that not-a-word-wasted draft right out of the gate, in trying to shortcut the tedium of composition and revision. Unchecked, that yearning for immediately beautiful writing becomes instead a recipe for no writing at all.
When the script runs long, decisions about what goes and what stays hinge largely on the story's spine. The spine is its essence, the thing you can't change without fundamentally altering the whole piece. I've thrown away exquisite pieces of dialogue, set pieces that made me giggle, characters I've lived with for months, because at the end of the day, they weren't necessary to the story.
(Picture: CC 2007 by mchlmbrk)