What I really like about screenplays is that a lot of them have minimal descriptions of objects or the environment. By contrast, novels usually have detailed descriptions that I have difficulty getting through... a lot of times I will just skim these parts.

The words of a screenplay mostly involve either dialogue... or describing "actions". Things to keep the story moving. Any descriptions of objects are people are kept terse.

Is there any tradition of novel writing that involves writing more like a screenplay (in the ways mentioned above)? To be clear, I'm not really thinking about "format" here, like the format of a play. I mean more the contents of the novel itself.

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    It's a very broad question; You might want to be a bit more specific. Hemingway is a writer whose voice is considered active and succinct. His work in general did not use a lot of adjectives. His dialog carries a lot of the character development and story. But novels tell more detailed stories than movies do, and while screenplays may be mostly dialog, a film made from a screenplay can have any amount of focus on objects, scenery, non-dialog and non-action. Look at L'Avventura by Antonioni. It is almost entirely long shots of nothing much happening, with only minimal, cryptic dialogue.
    – user8356
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


If you're referring to the description of the setting itself, I would suggest giving a quick, cursory description of a place that is only going to show up once, that isn't going to be important for the story. As for a place that you know will be the setting for multiple scenes, try giving a detailed description once and update the reader of anything that has changed since the last time the characters were in that place. Make sure not to info dump or make it seem like they are reading a whole laundry list of detail after detail, it may bore the reader and make them not want to continue. Hope this helps.

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