Spec Killers #2

It always seems like such a good idea. What better way to put your reader into a story than "We See"? Example:

"We see the boxer swing his last right cross. We follow his body as it slumps to the ground.”

That worked right? We were right there with that boxer. We were right there to feel his pain, right?


1) It's Breaking the Fourth Wall

A good screenplay is like a good novel; you get lost in the world. You forget that it's only a story.

You forget you're only reading.

So when a "we see" pops up, our brains go, "We see? Who's we? I'm we. Oh right, this is a screenplay."

Thus, breaking the forth wall.

As a screenwriter, you must put the reader in your world without breaking the spell.

2) It's Still a Camera Angle

Your job as a screenwriter is to tell a story in pictures. It is not however your job to describe how those pictures should be shown. That's the directors job.

Camera angles are very much forbidden in a screenplay. It may be true that a quick "we see" is better than:


But it's only a step behind. "We see" is still a camera angle. It's still you as the writer trying to tell the director how to do his job.

Same with the use of "we follow". Yes it's better than:


But not by much. You must come up with a more kinetic description
without using a camera angle.

Once the script ends up in a director's hands, it's their story and they get to shoot it how ever they want.

A hard truth that every writer must accept.

3) It's Lazy

Descriptions can be hard work. So can orientating who is in what scene and what they are doing.

It's very tempting to slap a "we see" down and keep writing. During the first draft that's fine. It makes a great placeholder. But when the presentation script is written, you need to come up with something more active.

The thing you have to remember is, a screenplay isn't just words and paper, it's a professional document that has a price tag of at least eighty thousand dollars.

An executive has no time for you to be lazy.

Now keep in mind, I'm not saying that if you have one or two "we sees" in your screenplay your script is doomed. Used in moderation, no one will notice. The phrase is used so often in professional screenplay's that it's just white noise at this point.

It's when the phrase is used excessively when we start to have a problem. You become a "paper director". A writer who directs on the page.

In a spec script you're trying to sell not just a story, but a GRIPPING story. A story that grabs the reader and refuses to let go.

A shortcut is never gripping. It's like reading the cliff-notes of an amazing novel. You get the gist of it, but you never get engrossed.

When it comes to "we see", it's best to just let the pros have it.

Don't worry, you'll get to use it soon enough.

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