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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Q. I'm not a songwriter, so it's probably a bad idea for me to pretend to be, no?

But then what do I do in the script? Especially when the lyrics are helping move the story forward?

  • JOHN
  • (song)
  • [Verse 1]

But that doesn't tell you what the content of the song is.

Another idea is:

  • JOHN
  • (song)
  • [Verse 1, about how he wishes she would stay]

I'm hoping neither of those is right, because they're awfully clunky. And I'm hoping I don't have to write the lyrics myself, because chances are the lyrics wouldn't be more elegant than what's above. And I can't afford to bring a songwriter aboard before I get funding.
If you're not a lyricist, just describe the song. But I would do it in the action, not in dialog. It confuses the reader when there are things in dialog that aren't dialog.

I would venture to say it is almost impossible to get a movie musical set up that's not based on a Broadway musical that's already a hit. The person writing in, though, is writing a short film, and the financing is apparently not an issue.

You can do the same thing if there's a song on the radio: "There's a song on the tinny radio, a sad song that sort of fills the air without grabbing your attention." You don't need to write the lyrics for that, either.

Labels: ,


The script of "8 Mile" is online ( and shows a very interesting approach to the problem!

By Blogger Russ, at 4:28 AM  

Short films have "financing"? I've been doing this all wrong.

By Blogger Seth, at 3:10 PM  

The 8 Mile script is so bizarrely formatted.

By Blogger PP, at 3:38 PM  

The lyrics may be important to the plot, but the music isn't. So just lay them out like a lyric in dialog:


Here I stand, head in hand
Turning my face to the wall.

As John sings, Jane gently closes the door behind her.

If anybody wants to hear the tune, great!

By Blogger blogward, at 9:06 AM  

Ah - reread the post, properly this time. If you're not a lyricist then saying the song 'does such a thing' without specifying is a bit like writing:

JOHN (Says something that moves the plot forwards)

Blah, blah.

Isn't it? No offence.

By Blogger blogward, at 9:17 AM  

No offence at all, blogward, thank you for your courtesy.

No, it's not the same as "something that moves the plot forward." It's more like saying "the two men duke it out. The fight is fast and furious. In the end, Jim Bob has George in a headlock." In that case you're leaving the fight choreography to the fight choreographer and the director.

Me, I'll try to put in some cool fight stuff, but I won't write out the entire fight. And I'd probably write out some lyrics, in case someone famous later records the song. But you don't strictly speaking have to.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:03 AM  

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