Screenwriting : V.O or no V.O by Tony McFadden

Tony McFadden

V.O or no V.O

I'm writing a couple of screenplays based on some noir-ish PI novels I've written. Two of the three are written in 1st person and lend themselves to VO in the screenplay. I agree that VO can be overused, improperly used and is generally frowned upon, but if the genre lends itself to VO, is it more generally accepted in the industry?

The best example of its use was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (at least in my opinion). Not looking at THAT much, but in a similar vein.



Beth Fox Heisinger

V.O. is just another writer's tool and/or writing device. When used effectively it can work well. It's not whether V.O. itself is generally accepted or not within the industry (it is), but rather if it is used well and effectively within the context of a specific screenplay. The problem (or myth) is that new writers do not use the tool correctly nor effectively, which has lead many to assume all use of V.O. is "bad" and thus falsely place blame upon the tool itself. Blame bad writing, not the tool! Many tell all new writers to not use V.O., which is just easier, but that's reductive and unfortunate. However, V.O. can be a tough device to master, hence new writers are often wary of it. Nonetheless, if you feel it would be effective as a storytelling device in your adaptation, then go for it. Perhaps study other examples, the latest adaptation of The Great Gatsby written by Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce opens with and uses V.O. throughout. ;) Hope that helps!

Dan MaxXx

What's your reviews and sales of your novels? Ist, 2nd, 3rd person - book to script is never a 1 to 1 exact crossover.

The only folks who really care if VO works or doesn't work are your partners (Rep, collaborators, Talent, Crew) backing your material.

William Martell

Billy Wilder (who won a bunch of Oscars and wrote 2 of the best Noir movies) said: "In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they're seeing."

Tamim Almousa

Narration DING

D Marcus

What is generally accepted in the industry is a well written screenplay with memorable characters and a compelling story. If using Voice Over adds to that, it is generally acceptable in the industry. The reason some script gurus say VO is frowned upon is because many writers use it poorly. I don't believe VO is generally frowned upon.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

William M:

Good advice from Billy.

Tony M: I use it often. If you want to read a great example of voice over narration, look no further than the script for Taxi Driver. When the Travis character is in his lonely apartment or driving his cab, the dialogue is mostly VO.

Jorge J Prieto

Taxi Driver indeed and a classic of classics "Double Indemnity."

Steven Michael

7EVEN is also good.

Paul Mahoney

Thanks for sharing the link, William. Jane the Virgin has a brilliant VO.

Tony McFadden

Thanks for all the comments, folks. Very helpful.

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