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Home » Archives » July 2007 » Setting the Setting on your Scene Setting
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07/11/2007: Setting the Setting on your Scene Setting

When you're actually at the point of converting your detailed outline into a script, you will be faced by choices you'd probably never considered. For example, which of these do you prefer?

Joe joins Adam, who is waiting impatiently for him at a table.


It's rush hour and there are two or three CLERKS behind the counter, maybe a half-dozen CUSTOMERS in line, waiting more or less patiently. Joe enters and moves through the crowd to join Adam who's waiting for him at a table.


We're close on a BELL. It JANGLES wildly.

Shows that the bell was fixed to the door of...

...Where Joe, who has just entered, lets the door fall closed behind him. He makes his way through the madding crowd to Adam, who's already waiting for him at a table.

Notice that these aren't just about different degrees of granularity of description. There's information in option one that isn't in two or three, and info in two that isn't in the other ones, etc. And, believe it or not, none of these is strictly preferable. It's just a matter of what you need to emphasize to the reader. If the meat of the scene is in the emotional conversation, go with option one. If you're trying to convey a stylish tone, use option three. If that line of customers is going to be important, use option two.

Chances are, you'll instinctively write this stuff so that it serves your purpose. Just remember that there are options and that they're there to serve your script, not to tie you down.

Lunch: Lamb, potatoes, Caesar salad, cucumber salad, date bar


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