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Screenwriting : When discussing locations such as mall or cafe. by John Michael German

John Michael German

When discussing locations such as mall or cafe.

Do you have to be specific as to a name of a mall or cafe or other organizational place or can you keep it generic for whoever picks up your script to decide where? For instance "they went to the local mall" or "everyone decided to meet up at the pub". There is no specific pub named but just where they decided to meet.

Lisa Clemens

I keep in generic other than if the pub/restaurant needs to be a certain type. I specified an Irish pub for one recent script, but didn't give it a name.

Pierre Langenegger

I agree with both Lisas, you don't need a name.

Richard Toscan

Lisa and Pierre are right about this unless... this particular mall and pub are critical locations for the story you're telling, meaning that much of the film hinges on these two locations or at least significant plot points happen in or outside them. In those cases, locations like this can become "characters" in the screenplay. But if the characters just go to the mall or the pub in only a few scenes, we don't need to know what these are called in a draft screenplay.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Adding to what Richard said, DO give locations names or at least some sort of description, especially if they are significant. It's an opportunity to add some nuance, flavor, or instantly set the scene for a reader. Names convey so much information. Hints. They give something specific about the environment or about the region or about the community. Naming fictional locations also creates the illusion that you are writing about "real" places, buildings, stores, pubs, areas, et cetera. They give your story validity. More importantly, why waste a creative opportunity? :)

Cheyenne L. Harlow

Hm, I wouldn't think it would matter to give it a name unless it was like how Richard described.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

"The Bookshop" by Penelope Fitzgerald is a downbeat story set in a British seaport town whose citizens gang up on a widow who uses her savings to open the only bookstore in town. Fitzgerald calls the town Hardborough" -- fictional but says it all.

Steven Fussell

Unless it is important to the plot, or if there is more than one pub (for example) probably not necessary to name it. The most important thing is to inspire the person who is finding the location or designing the set. Even if you don't care what sort of pub (although you probably should) your script will be more memorable to read, and if it gets made you want to give them something to go off, and matches the tone you want. Anyway, a name can mean anything or nothing unless you describe it. "The Fox and Hound is an inner city pub that desperately tries but fails to live up to its name." "The Mayfield is a corner pub with well-worn stools at the bar and the football constantly playing on he TV." Even if a mall is generic, the way you portay it is subjective. As a writer I wouldn't miss an opportunity to use location to enhance characterisation, theme or plot. If your Character is struggling with the prospect of becoming a parent, the mall will be full of toys shops, crying kids and bratty teenagers. If your theme is consumerism the mall might be cold and uninviting, filled with jewellry shops.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Very helpful, Steven!!!!

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