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Ivonia
08-29-2004, 09:08 PM
When a character is thinking stuff, kind of like talking in their mind, how is that expressed on the page?


John starts pondering thoughts.

John:
I wonder what's going to happen next now.

Or is it done differently?

whistlelock
08-29-2004, 09:19 PM
JOHN(V.O)
I wish I could think of something, anything, even just words but I can't.



you could maybe stick a note to the reader above the first time he thinks out loud.

Ravenlocks01
08-29-2004, 09:52 PM
When a character is thinking stuff, kind of like talking in their mind, how is that expressed on the page?
It isn't. Imply it through action.

You can express thoughts through V.O. if you absolutely must, but it's hard to do it effectively.

Fortean
08-29-2004, 10:00 PM
I've known people whose lips moved, without saying what they were thinking, (just not out loud).

How about "thought balloons"?

"My balloons. Those are my balloons. He stole my balloons!" ~ The Joker in BATMAN (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096895/combined)

altoption
08-30-2004, 06:33 AM
Woody Allen used subtitles in ANNIE HALL.

NikeeGoddess
08-30-2004, 07:52 AM
yep - Imply it through action.

but the ease of this depends on what your character is thinking.
ie:
"which toilet paper should i buy?" - have them finger the rolls of toilet paper while they shake up and down trying to keep from peeing their pants

"i could throw that hunk down and pounce on his @#%$ right here, right now" - have him bend over and twist his ass in the dude's direction

TwoBrad Bradley
08-30-2004, 11:29 AM
Why not "inaction"?

If your character is just standing there (or sitting), staring off into space, and thinking ... and the audience can tell what the character is thinking just by the tone (the way you structured events leading up to this moment) then you are doing your job as a screenwriter.

Ivonia
08-30-2004, 12:16 PM
Well, for the specific scene I was doing, I have a general who just ordered the slaughter of innocent civilians and military personnel. He doesn't feel right about it, but he does as he's told, like any good soldier would. I have a scene where he's looking at the aftermath and then he thinks "I truly hope that this was the right decision".

So it's because of this why I wasn't sure how to portray it as a thought in his mind (he's not going to say it out loud as others around him would question why he just said that). Outwardly, he still seems to have a look of approval so that he doesn't seem "weak" to his men, but inside he's conflicted because of what he just ordered them to do (wow, a bad guy with a conscience hehe).

So how should I write it? Just as a voiceover? Or is there another way?

ComicBent
08-30-2004, 12:46 PM
Bringing these things out, with subtlety, through dialogue is better. But if you must reveal what a character is thinking, use voice-over.

Be aware, though, that using voice-over changes the nature of the relationship of the character to the audience. Frankly, voice-over is probably not a good idea for the particular situation that you have mentioned.

wcmartell
08-30-2004, 01:27 PM
Movies are NOT about characters thinking, they are about characters DOING.

Novels, on the other hand, are often about characters thinking - maybe remebering their past as they eat a cookie in their pjs.

Are you trying to write a novel story as a movie? That probably won't work. Find a story that is about what people DO, not what they think.

Showing characters thinking on screen is boring - we can't know what they are thinking, so we just see some dude standing there.

You *can* show a character making a decision (which requires thought) by showing the two paths they can take (both must be something we can see) and then showing which they select.

There's a shot in BLOOD SIMPLE where the camera slowly moves around the protag's head, ending on his eyes. Thinking - but what he's thinking about has already been established (his gf's husband is dead in a chair and his gf's gun is on the floor). I think that shot is a director's choice, but showing the dead husband and the wife's gun is part of the writing.

- Bill

Deus Ex Machine
08-30-2004, 02:36 PM
Drama expresses the internal through the external.

Ivonia
08-30-2004, 03:19 PM
It's just this one scene where I wanted this thought in. While the general is one of the "bad guys", I figured by having this scene, it would show that not all of the bad guys are cruel (as I will show in later fights with different units fighting). I guess you could say I want to show this general as one of the "lesser evils".

Upon rethinking the scene though, I think I'll just have the general tell one of his trusted officers about his thoughts on these orders, since everyone under his command is pretty loyal to the general anyway. I just thought that having him "think" the thought would be a good way to show some characterization, but then when thinking about it again, I realized that having him talk to someone will be better, at least for a movie.

zz9
08-30-2004, 03:33 PM
Have him do something, like ordering his men to give all the dead decent funerals or put a man on a charge for stealing their belongings. Showing his anger towards a subordinate should make it clear that his anger is aimed at himself and his superiors.

TwoBrad Bradley
08-30-2004, 04:12 PM
This is one of the important threads on this board.

Technically, thinking, staring, and doing nothing is Action in the "screenplay sense" and is as necessary as "doing active things" when that is what the character is supposed to be doing.

It's obvious in movies like The Shining and Lost in Translation. Perhaps a bit more subtle in Girl with the Pearl Earing and The Station Agent. But, it is happening to some extent in every movie we see.
we can't know what they are thinking
Yes ... we can.
I just thought that having him "think" the thought would be a good way to show some characterization, but then when thinking about it again, I realized that having him talk to someone will be better, at least for a movie.
You do know how you're supposed to go with your first impression. So you decided to go with a bit of "Tell, Don't Show". Oh well ... though you probably have quite a few rewrites ahead of you.

There are many things to screenwriting that separates the "men from the boys". This is just one of them.

Get the audience inside your characters heads.

pantalone
08-30-2004, 11:09 PM
Ivonia, what you are talking about is acting. Watch "On the Waterfront". Everything Terry Malloy thinks about is eventually brought to the fore in the scene in the back of the car - the I coulda been a contenda speech.

Please don't beat the audience over the head with a character's thoughts, like in Schindler freak out scene (with this ring I coulda bought the freedom of one more jew!) from Schindler's List.

Upon rethinking the scene though, I think I'll just have the general tell one of his trusted officers about his thoughts on these orders, since everyone under his command is pretty loyal to the general anyway.

Please don't just give us exposition of thoughts inorder to give us thoughts. Have you seen Dances with Wolves? In that film, the general shoots himself. So does the warden in Shawshank Redemption. If the acts of your general hurt him so much, have him react as his station allows. Maybe he kills himself, maybe, like in The Last Samurai he drinks.

But please don't have him explain how much he hates himself or for what he did.

Ravenlocks01
08-31-2004, 04:59 PM
If you've characterized the general correctly up to the scene you mention, we'll know what he's thinking as you show him watching the aftermath of slaughter.

Ivonia
08-31-2004, 11:27 PM
Right now the general will have a troubled look on his face, as if he's really worried about something (whether he did the right thing or not. I'm sure you've seen that look before in movies where people seem to have this "look" when they've been told to do something atrocious). I also threw in a part where a tear falls from his face (and yes he wipes it from his face) as he's watching his men slaughter the civilians.

I thought that by having him say that, it would show people some more, kind of like icing on the cake.

Of course I will develop the general more later in the story (as well as one of his men, which will form a sort of "friendly rivalry" with the protagonist later on (since they will be dogfighting a lot in planes). However, with this character, I'm going to show this character mainly through actions, partly cause I feel his actions will define him, plus I don't want to write cheesy lines for that character hehe).

JosephScreenwriterMM
09-09-2004, 08:44 PM
FADE IN:

INT. ROOM - DAY

JOHNNY walks in the room slamming the door open. JENNY is startled by this and looks at him.

JENNY
Is there something wrong?

JOHNNY
(calmly)
No, nothing wrong dear.

Johnny grabs a chair and raises it above his head.

JOHNNY
(continuing)
Everything is peachy.

Johnny slams the chair into a table, breaking both of them.

JENNY
(eyes wide)
You don't seem peachy.

JOHNNY
(calmly)
Nonsense. What makes you think that.

Johnny slams his fist into the wall, again and again until blood comes out.

JENNY
Ummm...because your actions show how angry you are.

JOHNNY
(calmly)
What actions, what are you talking about?

Johnny slams his head into the wall several times before passing out on the floor.

FADE OUT.


Actions speak louder than words.