Specialized Writing Styles for the Medium

Over this past weekend I watched Miracle at St. Anna, Spike Lee’s fanciful World War II flick from last year. Based on a novel of the same name, the movie follows a company of African-American soldiers in the Italian countryside during the height of the war. The concept was great, and there were many compelling scenes from a direction standpoint. Unfortunately, though, I found the dialog almost impossible to get past.

Because it was based on a novel, the producers of the film must have thought it was a good idea to hire the author as their scriptwriter. I can tell you right now this was a bad idea. A novel is not a movie script. Lines that sound great in a reader’s head as he pages through a gripping novel come out terribly when read aloud by actors. The points in the movie where the characters actually had to speak to each other played out as if they were reading for a high school stage production, and I truly don’t think it was the actors’ lack of experience that caused it.

Don’t get me wrong; there were a couple of very powerful scenes, particularly those detailing the friendship of a young Italian boy and a hulking, yet gentle giant of a soldier named Train. In the context of those scenes, the situation takes on an almost fanciful, fairy-tale vibe, and the simplistic, expository dialogue actually seems to fit. But put that same stilted banter between soldiers marching into an ambush, and it suddenly becomes much more noticeable (and ludicrous.)

Writing style differs depending on the medium – it has to. Writing for this blog, writing a novel, or writing a script for a client’s next medical training video at DDA; all of these need to be approached in entirely different ways. For instance, when DDA writes content for build out on a marketing website, we’ll make sure to optimize the pages for search engines, by using words that are regularly searched on the bigger engines like Google and Yahoo. When writing scripts for voice-over on a medical device training video, we make sure the language is as clear and concise as possible. And if we’re writing a fast-paced, 30 second TV advertisement? The script will be sure to be as snappy and informative as it can be.

Remember, just because someone can write a novel doesn’t mean they can write a script. So if you need something written for your next corporate, marketing or medical training project, don’t forget about DDA’s expert scriptwriters!