Literary genre of screenplays

Screenplays have continually evolved alongside the most popular and influential form of visual storytelling — from the movies — and have taken their cues from this fast-paced and plot-centric medium. Mostly, they consist of action descriptions and dialogue, and their wording is clear, concise, and metaphorical. Hence, reading a screenplay comes closest to the way we consume audiovisual content and usually takes a few hours, since one page equals about one minute of screen time. Screenplays excel at showing external conflict and saying much in a few words, while still carrying enough subtext to illuminate the inner life of a character.

Screenplays also enlarge and improve us as human beings. According to the study “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind” (Science/AAAS 2013: 342, 377) conducted by David Comer Kidd et al. at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, people performed better on tests measuring emotional intelligence after reading literary fiction (as opposed to popular fiction or non-fiction). The same applies to screenplays. The reason is that a screenplay often leaves more to the imagination, inspiring readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

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