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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Continued from this post.
Q. Interesting, I never thought of doing that way. Splitting up the B story "beginning" would be tough the way it's written though -- over a four page span the intensity builds from minor mystery to apprehension to tense action, and concludes all in its own little container, and I'd hate to lose the moment unless I could come *right* back to it quickly. [...]I was so enthralled by how fast and solid that first act was written (3-4 hours for 14 pages) that it just never occurred to me to slow down for this.
First of all, get over how easily it came to you. Sometimes it comes easy. Sometimes it comes hard. Easy doesn't mean good. Hard doesn't mean good, either.

The reason you're uncomfortable splitting up your A story is that you feel each scene builds on the previous one. So does the B.

That's great. Except that you've got it exactly backwards. Movies flow, TV pulses. Each time you build to a mini-climax in one story, that's where you want to cut away to the other story line. You want to hold the audience. Cutting away at the moment of decision keeps the audience in suspense. By cutting away to the B, you're actually raising the tension on the A story. The hero opens his dresser, pulls out a gun and-- CUT TO: the B story. The audience has to wait to find out what's going to happen in the A.

Having got into the habit of writing multiple story lines, I find writing single storyline movie scripts actually a bit tedious. I like bouncing between story lines -- the end of each scene or sequence propelling me into the other story line.

Also, interweaving gives you the opportunity to cut out more flab. It's easier to skip explanations that are necessary for the characters but not for the audience -- you just cut away from the story line, and when you come back, the characters have given each other all the info they need, and you just show the tail end of the conversation so we know everyone's up to speed.

Don't look at cutting away as losing steam. Done properly, it increases tension, pacing and rhythm.


Thanks Alex, that's going to help me quite a bit. Rather than pollute your comments with my babbling on the subject, I did a lengthy post about how I'm going to apply this stuff to some degree, over here if you're interested in reading that.

It's a bit strange feeling that I didn't have my head in the right mode when I was doing this, because I didn't have this problem at all with my first spec. Must be it's just something I need to work on.

By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 4:30 PM  

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