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Home » Archives » December 2006 » Christmas Fudge
[Previous entry: "Happy Christmas Eve!"] [Next entry: "Davy Jones Collapses Under a Load of Pipe!"]

12/25/2006: Christmas Fudge

Sometimes there's something in your script that doesn't *quite* stand up to logical questioning. Why didn't the villain shoot the hero on the spot? Why didn't the crew beam the alien directly into a holding cell? Why didn't they rig that door, hide the treasure, have the pivotal conversation in the cab on the way home? In general, of course, you want to avoid stuff like this.


The first priority is telling the emotional story. If there's a little "buy" that the audience has to make in the logic of the piece, it's often fine to simply allow it. Show runners, when they notice one of these little logic bumps, tend to turn to their staffs and ask: "Is the audience asking the question?" Sometimes the staff will decide they are. But often, it's pretty clear, they are not. If they're hooked into the bigger stakes, they're along for the ride and they're not asking why the hero's wife seems to know where he is when we never actually saw her get that information -- or whatever the issue is.

If there's no cost to patching the logic, of course, do it. A spec script is your chance to present something that's as close to perfect as it can be, and sloppy logic isn't ideal. If it can be fixed without long labored dialogue or damage to the emotional arc, do it.

And if you can't fix it, sometimes you can get good results by simply acknowledging the problem. This is called "hanging a lantern" on the problem. By this I mean something like having a character say, "Damn, we should've beamed him right into a holding cell!" This will at least let the audience feel that the issue has been addressed. I love this solution myself because it often adds a humorous - and human - moment right when you need one.

And then there's the fudge. You know how that goes. It's a sort of half-fix that seems to address the problem unless you look at it too closely. Have a henchman working in a way that seems to run counter to his boss's plan? Well... the henchman misunderstood the plan. Sure. Good enough.

You'll have to decide, of course, on a case-by-case basis, whether a logic problem needs to be eliminated, acknowledged, fudged or ignored, but it's worth noting that those are all valid options. You don't have to be on a water-tight ship to get where you're going if you don't mind getting a little bit damp.

Lunch: warm fresh-baked cornbread with butter and honey, and grapefruit picked fresh off the tree.


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December 2006

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