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Describing the Scene: BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK

Seeing that our news writers came up with a random and interesting short bio of Classic Hollywood Screenwriter Millard Kaufman, I thought I’d look at the script they found. It only took a moment to find something instructive.

Here’s a description from the 1954 script for the town of Black Rock:

“The town is minute, dismal and forgotten crouching in isolation where the single line of railroad track intersects a secondary dirt road.”

This opening captures you attention by the fairly unique use of creative word selection.

As opposed to say something like this:

“In this small, dirty and old town there are a series of buildings bordering Main Street where it intersects the railroad.”

Nothing wrong with this description. I’ve written more than my fair share of such bland drivel.

However, I’d much rather read about the “minute, dismal and forgotten” town than one with some old buildings. The creative voice of the writer commands my imagination far more than the second. Screenwriting like this is always more enjoyable to read.

Continuing, Kaufman, finishes his description: “The town and the terrain surrounding it have, if nothing else, the quality of inertia and immutability – nothing moves, not even an insect; nothing breathes, not even the wind. Town and terrain seemed to be trapped, caught and held forever in the sullen, abrasive earth.”

By being more creative with word selection, the screenwriter allows your own imagination to participate at a more enjoyable level as a reader.

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