A Screenwriter's reality hunger

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‘A screenwriter’s Reality hunger’ contributes to contemporary debates about what it means to write in a digital era. David Shields has described his book Reality hunger (2010) as an ars poetica for a burgeoning group of contemporary writers and artists injecting reality into their work. Media scholars suggest that, as we move towards multimodal writing incorporating text, images and sound, the spaces of the page and the screen are becoming more like each other. As a form, the essay aims to ask questions, to probe and test ideas; ‘thought does not advance in a single direction, rather aspects of the argument are interwoven as in a carpet’ (Adorno 1991). This essay extends David Shield’s argument to consider writing for the screen. It draws on key thinkers from the history of screen media and the author’s own practice to consider the relationship between words and images in the writing process. Whilst there is a long history of critics using the essay form to think through ideas, the form has found new resonance in the shift towards more fluid digital environments in which text, images and sound can be cut, pasted and reassembled relatively easily. ‘A Screenwriter’s Reality hunger’ employs the segmented essay to open up new possibilities for scholarly writing, developing an argument through the essayistic modes of accretion and layering. It takes up the idea that writing increasingly has a design element and invites readers to construct meaning in the spaces between text and images.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • screenwriting
  • essay film
  • segmented essay
  • nonfiction film
  • multimodal writing
  • David Shields


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