Q. How should you handle characters who have been in the show before, but only briefly? Do you need to remind the reader how they fit into everything, ie:
Jake walks over to Ellen, the waitress/one-night stand who is now carrying his baby.Should I try to find a way to fit it in the dialog?
No, actually, I think what you've done here is the Right Thing. It's concise, it doesn't derail the read or slow it down. Don't put exposition in dialog unless you think the audience won't remember her, either. Clarity and precision are good. Don't be afraid to do anything for clarity so long as it doesn't bounce the reader out of the read.
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Thanks so much for answering my question. It'll definitely help me with my spec!
One drawback as stated is the direction has "secret information" that the reader gets but the viewer does not, namely that it is his baby. A more honest version might be...
"Jake walks over to Ellen (Episode 103's waitress/one-night stand) and double-takes on her very visible pregnancy."
This is where dialog might be needed, though his reaction might be enough to reveal his probable fatherhood.
A flashback could be useful in this situation.
Or, as when you watch episodes of Lost and they bring up some minute detail that happened 17 episodes earlier, it could simply be shown in the "previously on..." section before your teaser. Which makes it so you don't need to add any clunky exposition.
Speaking of which, do the writers specify which "previously on..." details are shown? What's the correct format for that?
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