Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Working on the part of my book about going from beat sheet to pages -- outline to script. Not sure exactly what to say about that. "That's the easy part!" quoth Moira Kirland, Supervising Producer for "Medium." And it is easy ... for those for whom it's easy. I have no trouble cranking out ten pages in an afternoon. The most I've written in a day is probably 27 pages. (Not claiming they were brilliant pages, just finished pages.) But if it's not easy ... what do you tell someone?

Oh, sure. "Get in late, get out early" is one.

And, "the end of your scene has to pop. Far more than the end of a scene in a movie, the end of a TV scene has to propel you into the next scene, assuming it's not already an act out, in which case it has to propel you so hard you're still going when the show comes back from commercial."

But how do you tell someone how to button a scene, or make it pop?

That's what I'd like to know.


Consider close-reading some scripts to get the idea for how other writers have done it. (Or if you don't have other people's scripts on hand, you can use your own scripts. Or just watch a show and make note of the specific ways of buttoning a scene.) "Making it pop" might be hard to find a script, but there should be plenty of buttons, and specific examples might help.

By Blogger Peter, at 2:51 AM  

This is coming from the perspective of a fiction writer and teacher who's dabbling in screen, so take it for what it's worth. Positive and negative examples would help--scenes that pop well, and scenes that spectacularly fail to pop.

I've been drilling my fiction students on two aspects I call texture and position. Perhaps screenwriters would call them something else. Texture comes from little touches that make the fictional world real for us--characters' habits, perspectives, favorites, the color of the couch she's sitting on, whether he eats Chinese food off a plate or directly from the takeout container. Position is the character's proximity to their goals and the nature of the obstacles in the way. A change in position gets the reader/viewer invested in knowing the ending.

The difficulty here is that writers (tend to) fall in love with texture. We love knowing our characters inside and out. But if you expect a reader/viewer to care about your characters, either the texture has to be unbelievably memorable, or there has to be a change in position. Seinfeld got away with all texture and no change in position, but few others do.

Most writers, people who love to write, will err on the side of not enough emphasis on position. If we have an outline, a list of the positional changes that will occur in the script, we'll probably tend to write this way: A scene starts, we learn about a change in position, then we spend the rest of the scene with texture, seeing how the character reacts and how the change fits into their world. If we have better instincts for the screen, though, we'll write more like this: A scene starts with a reminder of the character's current position. We see the texture of how the character is currently dealing with that position. Then something happens that obviously changes the position. We see the character's look of shock or surprise--then cut to commercial.

Or maybe that's just the way it happens in Buffy.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:03 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.