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07/18/2006: A Happy Medium
When I opened the letter from Shelah of Studio City, I was excited to see a page from a produced script fall out. It was like being a spy and getting a coded note. She enclosed the page, from an episode of Medium, so that she could call my attention to the show's stage directions. She asks about the degree to which someone writing a spec Medium should imitate the show's style when it comes to writing stage directions.
Here is a sample of what she's talking about, taken from the script page:
…HEARING the DOOR CLOSE behind her. And she looks at the small mountain of files. And after a moment pulls herself up and out of her seat and makes her way over to them. And without all that much enthusiasm, picks one up and opens it, turns herself around and leans against the table as she reads…
…filled out in pen. And as Allison and we SEE IT, Allison HEARS IT…
Hmm. They're good, evocative directions. But they're very detailed ("… leans against the table…"). Especially for a series of actions that aren't especially complex. To me, they feel like the writing of someone who wants to make very sure that a director films something a certain way, and that an actor gets the mood of the moment. They're directions tailored for a production.
If I were writing a spec Medium, I would probably dial it back a bit. I want the script to *feel* like a real ep of the show, but I simply don't want or need to go into this much detail. Although I want a reader to be able to "see" the actions, I don't want to exhaust their patience with a lot of detail about who is leaning on what. I'm not writing for a director or an actor.
And what about the "Ands"? I've never seen that particular quirk, of starting so many of the directions with "And." It's clearly a device the writer is using as a sort of substitute for bullet points. If EVERY produced ep of Medium uses this technique, I would probably adopt and adapt it for my script… it could be done very subtly. But if it doesn't seem to be an established trademark of the show's scripts, I would probably just write the directions in the way that feels the most natural to me. After all, whoever reads your spec probably won't have read so many produced Mediums that they'd notice or care about that particular difference.
Shelah apologetically uses the title of this blog entry in her letter. And I think it's very apt as well as delightfully punny. Sometimes a compromise between your own style and the show's style is the best solution.
Lunch: Chicken from Koo Koo Roo. No yams though. Sigh.