I recently read this this fabulous post over on 2amt by Trisha Mead: Kill the Adjective- 3 Reasons to Make Your Descriptions as Action-Packed as Your Plays.
In it, Trisha advocates us to get rid of adjectives when writing our play descriptions. Truth is, many adjectives are over-used, and what do they actually mean? If we use the really exciting ones, can we deliver what our adjectives are promising?
My name is Rebecca, and I rely too heavily on adjectives.
Okay, so we can’t just give up adjectives all together. They are an important part of our language. But I do agree that sometimes they get overused.
For me, the issue is, if we use words like “exciting” or “thrilling” or even “life-changing”, what happens if the audience comes, and they don’t find it exciting, thrilling, and their lives don’t change even one bit? Then we’ve dissapointed our audience. Let them down. And maybe they won’t give us a second chance to excite them.
So, let’s not use adjectives for that purpose.
Last week, I heard this great expression: You don’t buy a drill because you need a drill. You buy a drill because you need a hole. What is it that you want your audience to walk away with? What is the emotional journey or experience you want them to have?
I’ve been doing publicity for a local production of ‘Night, Mother. In case you’re not familiar with this play, it’s about a mother-and-daughter relationship. Essentially, the daughter, Jessie, on page 13 of the script, tells her mother, Thelma, that she’s going to kill herself, that night, in the first few minutes of the play. Thelma then spends the rest of the play trying to convince Jessie not to kill herself, and Jessie tries to spend the rest of the night putting her affairs in order.
Here’s what I wrote in the press release:
‘Night, Mother is an intimate portrait of a mother-and-daughter relationship, set in an intense, edge-of-your-seat drama that will keep the audience guessing the outcome to the very last second.
You judge if I did my job.
Trisha’s point is well-taken. The next time you write a show description, try to focus more on what you want the audience to take away from the piece, instead of using objectives that may or may not live up to the audiences’ expectations.
Just watch the first 10 seconds of this: