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An introduction to voice in screenwriting

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This article explores the concept of an identifiable screenwriter’s voice, proposing that voice in a screenplay can be understood and described based on its formal and personal characteristics. The term voice can be understood to refer to the authorial presence of the screenwriter(s) whose consciousness has shaped every aspect of the text. This article also argues that the authorial presence is inscribed in a screenplay through the decision-making processes within screenwriting practice which lead the screenwriter to make many concrete and conceptual choices based on their own knowledge, perceptions and sensibilities. By disengaging the argument for voice from questions of quality, any voice is opened to interrogation and description based on its stylistic continuities. The article presents the conceptual framework for screenwriter’s voice, which is argued to be an effective tool through which a screenplay text can be interrogated to locate voice, whether this voice is created by a single or multiple authors.
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Keywords: authorial presence; dramatic voice; narrative voice; national voice; screenwriter’s voice; screenwriting craft

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

Publication date: 01 June 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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