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Home » Archives » February 2006 » I Googled Goggles!
[Previous entry: "Funny = Sticky. Sticky = Funny"] [Next entry: "Don't Order the Cricket Salad!"]

02/26/2006: I Googled Goggles!

I have very poor eyesight, and I hate wearing contact lenses (I can get 'em in, can't get 'em back out). So I wear glasses. (Did you ever think that this might be the last generation to wear glasses? We're going to look really weird in old photos with these odd little sculptures on our faces.) Anyway, I can't wear my glasses when I'm snorkeling. So I recently ordered a prescription swim mask on the internet. It arrived the day before yesterday. I haven't had it in the water yet, but it works really great for walking around my apartment looking like a freak. A freak who can SEE, thank you very much.

This will allow me to see many more fish underwater. Until now I was only able to see those who swam directly in front of my eyes. Saucy little exhibitionists.

Hey, you know what that reminds me of? Script readers who don't read the stage directions. They only look at the dialogue and therefore only see some of the fish. How can we put our fish in front of their faces?

It's terribly easy to blip right over stage directions when reading. And since spec scripts are destined not to be produced, and only read, this is of crucial importance to you, the spec script creator. We've already talked about putting some of the staging into the dialogue. Here's a way to do something similar.

What I'm talking about here is putting stage directions into parentheticals. This is of course, immoral and wrong. But it can also be effective.

Here's what I'm talking about.


Ooh. Nice place.

Character feels the fabric of the drapes.

CHARACTER (cont'd)
Or maybe not.


Ooh. Nice place.
(feeling the drapes)
Or maybe not.

Parentheticals are supposed to be used to indicate how a line is to be read. Not to describe action. But it sure makes the action harder to miss if you sometimes put it in there. It's nicely mixed in with the dialogue, like putting a fish right in front of a person's face. This is a common and unremarkable violation of the rules and I recommend it if you have any concern that the action is going to be missed. Sticklers might disagree, but I like this technique. Possible parentheticals under this system could include:
(dodging a blob of taffy)
(noticing the door is on fire)
(kicking the otter out the window)

Here's a more extreme example:


Guess they didn't find the murder weapon.

One of the nearby COPS hands him a knife. Instead of blood, the knife is covered with a thick GREEN GOO.

CHARACTER (cont'd)
Am I the only one who thinks this is strange?


Guess they didn't find the murder weapon.
(taking KNIFE from cop. Re: GREEN GOO on knife)
Am I the only one who thinks this is strange?

Now, this is a really extreme example. A cop, a prop and some goo are all introduced in a parenthetical here. This is really against the rules. It is a lot harder to miss the action in the second version, don't you think? Also, look at the extreme space savings. That could totally help pull up a page if you need the space. But my instincts tell me this one is going a little too far.

Probably the best answer in this case, is to give the reader TWO chances to see the important info.


Guess they didn't find the murder weapon.

One of the nearby COPS hands him a knife. Instead of blood, the knife is covered with a thick GREEN GOO.

CHARACTER (cont'd)
(Re: GREEN GOO on knife)
Am I the only one who thinks this is strange?

There. Now the parenthetical isn't quite SO ridiculously overloaded and the reader has two chances to observe that goo and to fathom the fact that a knife was found. Isn't that cool?

LUNCH: Went to a Greek street fair thing. Lamb! Innocent and delicious!


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