on visual writing


Readers are entirely dependent on you. There is no movie unless you put it on the page. So, you have, absolutely have, to give readers a visual.

This does not mean a map of the furniture layout in the protagonist’s room. This means an impression of the location.

Is the furniture out of Salvation Army or out of a French showroom? Does this location scream cash? Or last dime? What does the location tell you?

The three most important elements of location are, space, light, texture.

Consider these two examples:


The kitchen is ugly, small, cramped beyond thought, one small bare bulb overhead tries to illuminate the dirty linoleum floor and old Formica table without any help from windows.



The kitchen is huge, spacious, whoever lives here has more money than God. More than modern refrigerators with glass doors going on forever line the wall, frosty interiors illuminated by harsh artificial light….


Those are examples from yours truly just making up two very different kitchen locations on the fly. Notice how different the locations are using just three elements: Space. Light. Texture.


•Excerpted from the lecture series “On Visual Writing” by Max Adams
Academy of Film Writing | Visual Writing