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Home » Archives » October 2007 » Knight Writer
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10/04/2007: Knight Writer

Friend of the blog Jeff has directed my attention to this excellent piece by E. E. Knight on writing blunders. Knight is not specifically talking about television writing here, but much of it translates to our favorite genre.

Several of these entries are very relevant for the writing of stage directions and parantheticals. I was really struck by the admonition against telling us what a character "almost" did. He writes: "'He almost screamed' doesn't tell me what he did do. Did he choke back a scream, bite it off, or did the scream come out as manic laughter?" That's an extremely good point.

In other entries, he touches on other aspects of indicating a character's emotional reaction, making sure it's not overly-amped for the situation or so flatly described that it's meaningless.

In our natural inclination as screenwriters to fuss over the dialog, we sometimes forget that the stage directions are our opportunity to speak directly to the reader and tell them what the characters are feeling without the biased and unreliable characters getting in the way. Think hard about your characters' emotions and reactions -- think about them as you would if you were an actor who had to play that role. Now make sure that your description does them justice in succinct and precise and creative language.

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Lunch: sopes -- have you had these? A Mexican dish built around a little corn-flour patty. Yummy.


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October 2007

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