I picked up the book The Technique of Screen Writing (published in 1944) about ten years ago at a used book store in Baltimore, Maryland. Not to take anything from any screenwrtiting gurus, but contrary to belief screenwriting books did not begin with Syd Field’s classic book Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting. Was Syd Field even born in 1944? Screenwriting books didn’t even begin with Eugene Vale’s The Technique of Screen Writing, but since we admire many movies from the 30s & 40s, it’s good every now and then to find the kind of thinking that was kicking around Hollywood during that golden era.
“It is necessary to understand that a story is nothing but a series of items of information. The story teller informs the listener about persons and events….The best approach is to ask: what is essential? In reducing the total information to that which is important, the good writer can tell a story in a smaller amount of space than the writer who is not capable of picking out the essential facts. Since the space of the motion picture is limited, the writer who knows how to select essential information can tell about more events and happenings than the writer who has mixed essential and non-essential information…While the means of expression must be handled in the most economical way, the amount of information must not be sparse but adequate.”
The Technique of Screenplay Writing (1944)