I sometimes just describe where the people are located in a scene, but those sentences sound very blocky, should I change them and improve them or is it completely normal to do this in a screenplay?

For example:

SCENE 1: Anna stands next to the stairs. Michael stands right in front of her. Next to him, stood his brother Jim. He looks at her and the reaches for his smartphone to text something to a friend.

Should you fix these sentences and what can be done to make these descriptive sentences sound less blocky?


2 Answers 2


Such description is sometimes called blocking because it was sometimes done on a mini stage using small blocks of wood to represent the actors. So being "blocky" is not a big deal.

Keep in mind that, when performed, the audience does not see them. The audience sees their results. So you want to write them in a fashion that is easy for the people putting on the performance.

Also, unless you are very experienced with camera work, the director is likely to do a lot of damage to your blocking. He likely wants to make changes to where people stand, how they are lighted, where the camera is, and so on. So it may not be all that useful to write a lot of details. I would suggest only to put in the details that actually affect the performance or the story, and that are not obvious from the dialog.


Let's start by what makes these sentences sound 'blocky': repetition of sentence structure and reuse of synonyms for 'stand'.

Alternatives include:

Anna stands next to the stairs with Michael in front of her and Jim next to him.

(You probably shouldn't need to explain Jim is Michael's brother.)

Although poorly written stage/camera directions aren't going to matter in one way, they affect how the reader perceives the script and you. If you write crisp, precise directions, the reader is going to think you know what you're doing. They are then more likely to regard your dialogue as being good.

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