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Home » Archives » March 2007 » Putting the Cart Before the Horse (and Getting Rid of the Horse)
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03/28/2007: Putting the Cart Before the Horse (and Getting Rid of the Horse)

Here is a sentence you sometimes hear in a writers' room: "What if we took that big event in the fourth act and moved it up to the first act?" Here is a sentence you never hear: "What if took our teaser and made it the big conclusion?" Jump-starting the action is almost always better than delaying it. And this is especially true with a spec script, because most of your readers aren't going to make it past page fifteen unless they're hooked and hooked good.

Look at the beats as you have them laid out and play around with this idea. You might find that a lot of the early scenes in your episode are there to lay out a series of logical steps to get your characters into position for a big event. Series of logical steps can feel plodding and dull. Try putting the big event earlier and see if you can move those plodding steps into "stuff that happened before the episode started". Of course, you'll have to come up with brand-new, even bigger and more exiting stuff to replace the thing you moved up, but if you find it, you can create a real rip-snortin' episode.

It won't always work, but when it does it can take a slow fuse and replace it with an explosion. And in a world of busy readers, that can really really help.

Lunch: salad bar and tortilla soup


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March 2007

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