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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Here are some more contributions to the jargon preservation dialog that John Rogers and The Artful Writer are so usefully having.

Laying Pipe -- I've heard this in an SF context, not just comedy, to describe a scientific explanation you make in Act 1 that will pay off in Act 3 or 4, akin to installing pipe so you can just turn the faucet later.

Taking the curse off -- tweaking a too-familiar segue or scene so that it's fresh enough to use.

Hanging a sign on -- Making a moment of something apparently trivial, so that the audience remembers it, because you're going to need them to remember it later.

Shoe leather: I've heard more in terms of the narrative hoops you have to jump through to set something up dramatically -- e.g. establish that Tony's an orphan, remind the audience of Sally's psychokinetic abilities, etc. all so it pays off later.

Couplet: two brief lines, one answering the other, sometimes used to button a scene. "But how are we going to know he did time?" "C'mon, you can do that in a couplet."

The following are idiosyncratic:

Subtitles for the nuance impaired: explanatory text in the "blacks" (action description) written for people on the crew or at the network who are going to read the script too fast and not get it. (Yes, that is a big coincidence. That's the point.) Alternately, Subtitles for the Nuance-Impaired are what you're not allowed to have, and therefore you have to write the scene so it's clear without them.

I've always wanted to put thematic commentary on the Second Audio Program...

On Charlie Jade we used the expression "Ross's monkey" to refer to various elements of the template that probably seemed like a cool idea in the first few episodes, but that actually got in the way of the storytelling later -- like Ross's monkey, abandoned after Season One of Friends. Get me drunk enough and I'll tell you which they were...

PS John, don't forget joke spiral: when the writing room writes progressively less and less funny jokes into the script at some point because they're in an unfunny mood. Why you should stick with the first blurt: the first joke pitch that made everybody in the room laugh.

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