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Home » Archives » May 2006 » Hide in Plain Sight
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05/17/2006: Hide in Plain Sight

Hi all! This is staffing season, and the game of musical chairs is getting pretty wild. As a result, I only have time for a quick posting today, but it's a neat little nugget. Suppose your spec has a whodunit structure. Like, say, a House or perhaps a Veronica Mars or, depending on the story you've chosen, pretty much any show. (House is totally a whodunit, always, just with microbial bad guys). One way to keep the audience from correctly guessing the identity of the culprit is to raise the actual baddy as a possibility early on and dismiss him. This keeps the audience from screaming: "Why aren't they considering the sheriff?!" (or "rickets?!") and correctly guessing the bad guy.

We did this, at Joss's direction, in my Buffy episode "Earshot." Xander made a joke, early on, about the ultimate identity of the would-be-killer, which turned out later to be correct. The fact that it was done as a joke was especially nice since audiences tend to dismiss jokes anyway. It kept the moment from calling too much attention to itself.

This same thing was done effectively, but without jokes, on the House episode this season in which the little boy had the same disease as the old woman who had died previously. A cause was proposed, then rejected, and then brought around again.

It's hard to stay ahead of an audience. This way, you're banking on their active minds, acknowledging the fact that they'll have theories of their own, instead of hoping they don't.

Lunch: In 'N' Out burger. With half-Dr. Pepper, half-Coke. I love it when you can mix your own.


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