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Home » Archives » October 2007 » Damp Thoughts
[Previous entry: "Back to the Drawing Board and Loving it!"] [Next entry: "Look Alive"]

10/21/2007: Damp Thoughts

Hello, Gentle Readers. I'm still in beautiful (and rainy) Vancouver. Posting may continue to be a little sporadic, but I'll do my best to bring you the freshest in writing advice!

Know what can help enliven an otherwise static scene? Give the characters something to do. Let 'em play poker or unstick a stuck window or wash dishes or eat. I know this may seem like more of a production detail than a writing one, but actually it can be a huge help in the scripting. You can demonstrate a character's reluctance to talk, for example, by having them suddenly talking too much about the task at hand. Or you show their sudden attention to a topic by indicating that their hands go still, or betray a sudden shock by showing them dropping something.

Action like this, especially something with a verbal component ("I call," "hand me the thing," "watch out"...), also helps break up the dialog so you're less likely to have big blocks of text as one person pours out their opinion. It can also help keep minor characters "alive" in a scene.

And here's the important part -- the activity you choose helps give depth to your characters. Are they Scrabble people? Or are they at the gun range? Trying to get gum out of their son's hair, or clipping their overweight husband's toenails, or typing out a warrant? You can help deepen the illusion that this character has a real life by picking the activity wisely. It's not just staging. It's personality.

Lunch: ketchup-flavored Pringles, Coke


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