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  • The Grim Brothers

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    October 8th, 2008Jane EspensonOn Writing

    I noticed something in my own writing the other day that I’d never consciously been aware of before. It’s kind of a neat little distinction you might enjoy.

    This is about a short little scene I wrote that went something like this (names and content changed to prevent Battlestar webisode spoilers):

    DAVE
    I don’t think we’re gonna find a way out of here.

    TOM
    There has to be a way out. Keep looking.

    DAVE
    (realizing)
    That rockslide back there — the exit could be blocked.

    Grim:

    TOM
    Keep looking.

    That’s the end of the scene. Notice what I did with the word “grim”. It’s hanging out at the left edge there as a stage direction when it usually would be a parenthetical on that last line, the way “realizing” was on the previous line.

    I made it a direction because I wanted it to be bigger than those two words. I wanted to succinctly convey that it wasn’t just the tone of one man’s voice that grew grim, but rather that the tone of the whole scene changed. By taking it out of the dialogue, and putting it into the stage directions, I made it more inclusive.

    It’s a neat little trick. Look at the tonal shifts in your script — are they at the line-level or the scene level? Consider moving your adjectives around appropriately.

    Lunch: leftover ribs from Ribs USA! Perfect.

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