FOLLOW THE PAINComplications Ensue
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


Monday, June 26, 2006

I'm revising Unseen, which had felt a little young. A 16 year old protagonist doesn't have to mean a tween movie. Just look at Harry Potter. I think what makes a tween movie is soft jeopardy. E.g. What a Girl Wants the jeopardy is ... her father's relations won't like her. Ironically movies for kids usually have harder jeopardy, e.g. the protagonist's death. And, in this case, the jeopardy ought to have been there. Her mother was in danger of death. Her father (whom she hadn't known was alive) was in danger of death. And she was up against deadly critters. Yet, somehow, it felt young.

Part of the problem was I was taking the fear for granted. I wasn't selling the emotion. When the situation implies danger, the actor will give you fear on screen. But to get past the reader, you have to sell it. You have to give us the hero's reactions. If her dialog is tough, you have to show us that she really is scared in spite of the tough talk.

I wasn't doing that enough.

Another thing that was getting in the way of feeling adult was that I was taking the supernatural situations for granted. The story's about a girl thrust into a situation she would previously have thought was the stuff of fairy tales. And I jumped the gun on that. As I wrote it, I wasn't very interested in the experience of the heroine doubting the reality of her situation. After all, I knew it was real. So I emotionally fast-forwarded through those scenes.

Consequence: hard to take the situation seriously. Because the heroine wasn't taking it seriously.

Now I'm letting the moments where she doubts her own grasp on reality breathe. And it's feeling much more grown-up.

Unless you're an actor, you probably try to avoid emotional pain in your life. But emotional pain is compelling on screen; it is the basis for drama. If you elide the pain, you'll throw a wet blanket on the drama. That gets you a James Bond movie. Which is okay, if you have $200 million to spend on spectacle. And even then it's not that great.

Follow the pain. If something in a scene is pushing you away -- is urging you to skip ahead, is making you uncomfortable -- that's a good sign that you're on to something. Push back. Push into the pain. That's going to provide a compelling scene.


Thanks, Alex. You've given me some ideas here.

I was running into similar problems with THE KNIGHTMARE. While the action was exciting (it's modeled after the cliffhanger serials) the situations don't read 'frightful' yet, which is a major motif of the whole story. The main character has to harness the fear within himself before he can instill it in others (his superpower).

By Blogger Cunningham, at 1:32 PM  

That's a common problem when writing supernatural-related stories. How to logically push through that moment when the protagonist first discovers that there's something really, really wonky going on (i.e. did I just see a ghost/demon/UFO?) to that moment of clarity when they must deal with the fact that the things that go bump in the night are actually real -- and they're out to get you!

Thankfully, I was able to avoid that situation with my 15 year old protagonist -- since she quickly learns that she IS one of those things that go bump in the night.

By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 3:00 PM  

I would like to rephrase your advice as "follow the emotion" in the given scene - within the limits of reason ofcourse. The more I write the more I come to realize that screenwriting is very much like painting - emotions being colors, and information the canvas. Without canvas (info and all that plot-related stuff) you have nothing to paint on, but what matters is the colors and their juxtaposition. (Sorry for the metaphor, I could not help it :)

By Blogger gezgin, at 4:55 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.