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Home » Archives » January 2007 » Scripting Spontaneity
[Previous entry: "A Rule To Not Obey"] [Next entry: "Giving 'em Wrinkles"]

01/12/2007: Scripting Spontaneity

When I used to work on multi-camera half-hour shows, there was always a live audience. The audience was "warmed up" (or "alienated") by a stand-up comic who entertained them and prepared them to do their part in the production. "Laugh when you HEAR the joke..." this person would always tell them, "...not when you GET the joke." Oy.

I was reminded of that sentiment recently when I was watching television and saw a scene that bugged me. It was a scene of a group of people assembled around a television set, watching a news report on an event they all cared about. It appeared to have been scripted something like this:

...judge found the defendant not guilty, and in so doing concluded the trial that began nearly three long weeks ago.

The crowd watching ERUPTS into cheers and applause.

Really? They waited all the way until the end of that sentence? Really?! Hmm. People tend to react the moment they hear that one crucial piece of information. I think at the very least the line of stage direction here should have been changed to something like...

But we don't hear much after "not guilty," because the watching crowd has ERUPTED into cheers and applause.

The same principle applies to one-on-one conversations too.

You could write:

I'm leaving you, and there's nothing you can say to change my mind.

God, no. Wait. Marie-- There has to be something...

But isn't it more interesting and realer like this?

I'm leaving you--

God, no.

(forging ahead, talking over him)

Please, wait...

There's nothing you can say to change my mind...

And this was without my even using dual dialogue, which can be great for this kind of thing, despite the awkwardness of dealing with it in Final Draft. (And my total inability to render at all in this blog.)

My point is to keep in mind that you can let characters react instantly to new news. Don't feel that script format requires you to let everyone finish their thoughts. Cut 'em off or let people talk over each other. Your scripts will almost instantly gain a feeling of realism and you will be loved and praised.

Lunch: shabu shabu, beef and veggies dipped in boiling water and then swabbed through sauces... mmm.


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January 2007

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