RIP We See

Let’s talk screenplays for a moment. (I don’t often talk screenplay land stuff on my websites, simply because there’s no money in spec work, but this topic covers any form of script writing.)

I know I already have an article explaining why you should cut your passive writing…


It always amazes me how vehemently people fight for what they know is wrong.

Actually, it doesn’t surprise me too much. Anchoring yourself to bad habits is a hard pill to swallow. People will generally throw themselves in front of train, before admitting their entire body of work is flawed.

Ok, before we get into it… take. this. to. heart.

There are only two kinds of writers.

The first, an editor or someone who knows writing, picks up their work and says, “Oh yeah, this guy knows what he’s doing. Well done. What a pleasure to read.”

The second, an editor or someone who knows writing, picks up their work and says, “Good grief, this guy has no idea what he’s doing. I don’t really have to read this, do I?”

That’s it.

Now, maybe you don’t care which of those writers you are. I spent most of my life slacking off and didn’t give to effs about anything. If that’s you, I pass no judgement.

But, let’s square it up right now. If you want to be a writer in the first group, in any way shape or form, YOU MUST, come to the understanding… I won’t even talk about right or wrong… but instead, LESS EFFECTIVE and MORE EFFECTIVE. Period. If you don’t acknowledge that dichotomy exists, you will never be a writer of any merit.

A’ight, here we go…

We see Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent. We see Maximus slam to a halt.  We see he’s stunned.

We see Commodus stand before him.  We see Lucilla stand in a corner of the tent, head down.

We see Marcus Aurelius dead, lying on his bed. We see Maximus stare at Marcus.

How did that read?

Now, let’s look at the actual script.

Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent — Maximus slams to a halt.  Stunned.

Commodus stands before him.  Lucilla stands in a corner of the tent, head down.

And Marcus Aurelius dead, lying on his bed. Maximus stares at Marcus.

How did that one read in comparison? This second one is the actual script…


If you’re a fan of using “we see” in scripts, I’m sure you’ll immediately say, “This is stupid, nobody uses ‘we see’ that much, that’s obviously wrong…”

OK, how many “we sees” is the proper number for a script, because I never got that memo.

I’ll wait.


We see Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent.

Ok, maybe we see is there for clarity? If it wasn’t we see, it might be something else and without we would be confused!

Maybe it’s:

We smell Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent.

We taste Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent.

We feel Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent.

We hear Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent.

Mmm nope. None of the other senses work, except for hear… but everyone who knows anything about screenplay writing, knows, sound effects are CAPPED and written for what they are not described long-hand. So that’s out.

Nope. The ONLY POSSIBILITY we see represents, is in fact, something that can be seen.

In otherwords,

Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent.

There is no other possible assumption, BUT, this is a visualization.

One more, let’s go with a snip from Bladerunner,

The human Deckard exits the elevator and approaches his door. The human Rachael is behind him, she’s desperate.
The human Deckard takes out his wallet, it drops to the floor scattering his cards. The human Rachael picks up the cards.

I just hit you over the head with this one. I really only needed to use “the human,” once or twice.

But hey, they are–SHIT! lmao, man this was a bad example. Figures I subconsciously grabbed the one movie that actually has non-humans… lol, that’s really funny.

OK, I’m not gonna change it…

just pretend it’s NOT Bladerunner and some drama set in 1970’s NYC.

Point is, in every other script but Bladerunner, OBVIOUSLY, the characters are all human. Declaring a character as human, even though it’s correct… just like saying “we see,” ok, we are actually seeing… but it’s a waste, because there is no alternative.

There is no other assumption but human.

“Hmmm, wait a second, the script doesn’t say “The Human Deckard,” let’s get the writer in here, is this guy a lizard-man? an elf? Shit. Makeup, do you have anything on Deckard?”

For the “we see” writers, in the last non-cyborg script you wrote, how often did you declare the characters “human?”

Why not? You used “we see,” didn’t you?

Same difference.


Obviously, if you throw a handful of “we sees,” across your 90 page script, it’s not gonna break your script, and yes…

There may be 1 or 2 occasions with a weird POV, where “We see” actually clarifies something, but make no mistake…


“We see” is completely superflous 99.99% of the time.


Brevity in script writing is always more effective.

A cleaner, sharper read is always MORE EFFECTIVE.

Strive for these latter points and YOU WILL be standing out above those who engage in less effective writing.


Let’s shift gears and talk specific to comics for a second.

I came across a crowdfund for a comic floppy showcasing three pages. Clearly, the writer never read any of my writing articles or books.

Here were the three pages.

Page 1: Character makes tea. This is decompressed. It shows extreme close ups of the tea cup and sugar.

Page 2: Character answers the door.

Page 3: Character finishes making tea. Offers tea to the visitor.

For fuck’s sake, I shit you not. Those are three actual pages.

Folks, 3 pages of a 22 page comic is 13%.

Bro presented 13% of his book of making tea and answering a door.

Less effective. More effective.

If your story’s most engaging scene is someone making tea and answering a door, you’re screwed.

If making tea and answering a door, is NOT the most engaging scene in your story, but that’s what you’re showcasing to hook new readers, you’re screwed.


Of course, an argument can be made, “But the visuals are so purty.” “I’m hitting mood, tone, style, writer’s voice… yada, yada, yada.”

Yeah, those are all good, important points to have in a comics.

But you know what, people who enjoy writing will look at those pages hitting on purty visuals, mood, stone, style, writer’s voice, and see that everything else is missing. That the narrative drive of the scene itself is dead on arrival. People who enjoy well written work will put the book back on the shelf, or simply not back the crowdfund. And the question you need to ask is, why did you lose them? Why didn’t you just showcase a more effective scene. A scene that grabbed the attention of the people looking for purty visuals and a well written story.

I hope this article put you in the right writing mindset. Don’t be bound by dogma, or bad habits. WRITE BETTER!

Now, leme plug my new PDF guide I made available a few days back.

If you’re writing horror, thrillers, action, or drama, you’ve probably already read the 10 page or so, preview on my genre articles over at Story To Script

Well, now you can get access to the full genre articles without becoming a member on the site.

If anybody buys this guide and tells me it wasn’t worth every penny.

If the tips didn’t actively help you improve your story by a dramatic measure…

I’ll hit you with a fresh piece of sushi, because that’s what I usually do to liars.

About the Author —
If you enjoy this article, please share the direct link on your social media.

Newcomer or veteran writer, if you’re working on a project that needs commercial success, Nick urges to you read this intro article.

Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, Amazon, and in select stores around the U.S.