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Home » Archives » May 2007 » Also Good for Swimming Pools with Diving Boards
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05/04/2007: Also Good for Swimming Pools with Diving Boards

Is there conflict in your spec script? Yes, of course there is. You might even have a scene of two people disagreeing, arguing, maybe even screaming and throwing punches. Great stuff. But here's a little trick to make that scene even better:

Imagine that at some point in the scene, you are required to give one of the characters this line:

Fightin' Guy
Oh my God. Is that what this is really about?

Don't actually give them the line, just imagine that they had to say it. What would the "that" be? What is the underlying emotion that's being expressed in the conflict between the two characters? Is there one? It'll be a much better fight if there is. They don't have to comment on it explicitly, but if you go into the fight knowing what underlies their animosity - beyond the immediate issue of the script - you'll find all sorts of tricky little ways to let the audience in on the fact that there's something deeper going on, without having to actually use the on-the-nose line above.

And remember that the "that" which the fight is "really about," doesn't actually have to be a conflict in itself. It can be a denied attraction, or a self-hatred, or a too-long-suppressed secret, or whatever. If you're writing a spec for an established show, then you can draw on existing dynamics for the "that." If you're writing a spec pilot, a fight like this in which the deeper motivation is exposed can be a great way to clue the audience in to a history between two characters -- exposition and backstory are always better if fists are flying when they come out.

Deeper! It's good for pizza and it's good for scripts.

Lunch: In 'n' Out burger, fries, Dr. Pepper


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