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Old 11-02-2016, 10:32 AM   #21
nmstevens
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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Originally Posted by cvolante View Post
I think you should tell the person. Maybe don't waste your time writing pages and pages of feedback. But tell them.
I've written period stuff where people gave feedback that the dialogue was too STILTED and that it was okay to put contractions in or try to make it more modern. This disaster you read could've been a result of the writer listening too much to the wrong feedback. Or s/he could be just a disaster. Still, you spent that time reading it and you're obviously still annoyed. Find a way to say it so the person will hear it.
I've written period scripts and what I find is -- you do the research on the language of the time and then you have to make a decision as to what's going to work.

So what I found is that contractions were used at the time, but that the preferred contraction was 'tis rather than it's.

'tis good you're here -- as opposed to "It's good you're here."

And I started using it and the more I listened to it in my head and imagined actors wresting with it, the more I felt -- nah. So good bye 'tis. And I just went with "it's."

In the end, in terms of the language, you have to come up with a set of conventions that "feel" right, that give an impression of historicity, not necessarily what's historically accurate.

I mean, let's face it, even if you're going back as far as Shakespeare's time, the common English of the day would be almost incomprehensible to us.

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Old 11-02-2016, 10:52 AM   #22
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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Originally Posted by reiverx View Post
On the total opposite end of the spectrum.

When I was researching WWI for a script, I spent a lot of time reading war diaries. I remember one guy wrote that he was watching a battle from a distance and he described it as a 'virtual display'.

I was stunned that he used that term in 1915. It seemed so out of place.
For a comparable oddity -- in the original True Grit in 1969, in the scene where Ned Pepper has grabbed Mattie he says, "I never busted a cap on a woman or anybody much under sixteen. But it's enough that you know that I'll do what I have to do."

To modern ears it sounds really out of place but it's actually an old phrase "busting a cap or popping a cap" dating back to Civil War times that, for some reason, came back into modern usage, making it sound anachronistic - which is probably why it's missing from the remake.

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Old 11-02-2016, 01:06 PM   #23
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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Originally Posted by nmstevens View Post
This sort of anachronistic screenwriting is all over the place. I just started watching STRANGER THINGS on netflix.

Period piece taking place back in the Seventies. Wow, way back then before everyone was born. At any rate, obviously long before the writers of this show were born.

I know this because they had a scene where the telephone (a dial phone) blow up. So, of course, since this was seventies, what does she do? She goes to the store and buys another phone.

Right. Except no, she doesn't. Because back then, you couldn't do that. And anyone who lived back then would know that. Back in the days of dial telephones, when Bell Telephone had a monopoly, you didn't own your phone. You leased it from the phone company. So if your phone broke (and that almost never happened because you could drive nails with those things) you had to call the phone company on somebody else's phone and they'd come and replace it.

You couldn't buy a phone from a private retailer.

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Stranger Things took place in November 1983, which is after the breakup of Bell's monopoly. Pretty sure people were able to buy phones in that time period.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:32 PM   #24
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

There is also danger in actually using terminology or slang relevant to the time period of your story. Kevin Jarre did a fantastic job with his dialogue in the movie Tombstone, but it really confused a lot of people and has even led to arguments about the meaning of some phrases.

The best example is probably Doc Holliday's line, "I'm your huckleberry." This was a common expression in the south. Doc was effectively saying to Johnny Ringo, "I am your guy," in response to a challenge for someone in the Earp gang to fight him.

To this day, some people insist that Doc said, "I'm your hucklebearer," (meaning "pallbearer") in spite of the fact that the written screenplay has "huckleberry" as the word.

A lot of people could not not grasp that "going heeled" meant "carrying a gun."

I guess my point is, although I am all in favor of accuracy in historical dialogue, such accuracy can cause minor problems.
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Old 11-06-2016, 12:11 AM   #25
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

Giving my pal Marshal Bill an assist here ...

Yeah, Tombstone, which is one of my favorite films, had some great dialogue. There were also references to "skinning" and "throwing down" in the sense of drawing a gun.

I am flabbergasted that anyone heard "huckleberry" as "hucklebearer". I am even more flabbergasted that people kept that argument going in the face of indisputable evidence that the word was "huckleberry".

The word clearly meant: "I am just the man for the job" or "I am the man that you're looking for." Plenty of evidence supports that. Also, though I cannot prove it, I believe that it had a connotation of chump, sucker, rube meanings that grew out of the original sense of something small and insignificant.

Hucklebearer. Gee.
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Old 11-06-2016, 06:23 AM   #26
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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I am flabbergasted that anyone heard "huckleberry" as "hucklebearer". I am even more flabbergasted that people kept that argument going in the face of indisputable evidence that the word was "huckleberry".
Those people live in bliss, bless their hearts. Either that or they're Yankees and other unwashed heathens.

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The word clearly meant: "I am just the man for the job" or "I am the man that you're looking for." Plenty of evidence supports that.
This reference to the meaning of the phrase was doubtless the driving force behind the naming of the cartoon character "Huckleberry Hound."

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Also, though I cannot prove it, I believe that it had a connotation of chump, sucker, rube — meanings that grew out of the original sense of something small and insignificant.
I never read or heard "huckleberry" used in reference to a "chump, sucker," or "rube," though it could well be yet one more of those things I just plain ol' don't know.

The diminutive size of the huckleberry comes into play in reference to a small amount of something, with respect, for example, to an insurmountable task in such phrases as that something being "a huckleberry over my persimmon," as in, "that's just a tad bit more than my abilities to perform," or "that's just a huckleberry more than I bargained for," or "he's a huckleberry from being a full-blown genius save that he doesn't know what he doesn't know."

Other uses of "huckleberry" seem always to me to be used in reference to something or someone as a term of affection, more or less.
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Old 11-06-2016, 06:38 AM   #27
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

With respect to anachronistic screenwriting, I once proofread a screenplay for someone whose script took place in the 18th century. The writer used the word "saloon" throughout the story as the room in the mansion in which the potential lovers and other characters often would meet. The term was historically accurate for the time of the story.

To be an ordinary Joe reading the screenplay and imagining an 18th-century aristocracy as the story rolled along then suddenly be given a thought of an Old West drinking establishment was jarring to the imagination (and took me out of the story momentarily, too).

As it threw me off on the first pass and subsequent ones, too, I suggested to the writer a change of the word "saloon" to the word "salon," which was less historically accurate but a change which would cause no burbles or turbulence for any reader in modern times. The use of the word "salon" even sounded more appropriate, given the time, place, and setting of the story. The writer made the change and went on to do well with that script (no thanks to me, however ... the story was already excellent).
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Old 11-07-2016, 12:30 AM   #28
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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Originally Posted by nmstevens View Post
So if your phone broke (and that almost never happened because you could drive nails with those things) you had to call the phone company on somebody else's phone and they'd come and replace it.
NMS
I didn't realize how indestructible those things were I worked at the Idaho National Laboratories in mid 90s. All the analog phones we used -- probably around 8000 out of the 11000 phones (or so) -- were still Bell System phones. Up until that point I had installed mostly proprietary digital phones. So I was kind of surprised by how heavy and unbreakable these were.

These phones had Touch-Tone dialing (not rotary) and RJ-11 (modular connections), not hardwired.

But...

These phones had all been retrofitted. They had all started life as hardwired, rotary dial phones. I actually had to do the conversion on some of them. New plastic and a new jack on the phone. Remove the rotary dial and replace with the touch dial.

The innards of these phones were stamped with the date of manufacture. Most at this location were from the 50s, so they were pushing 50-years-old. And the only thing we normally repaired was the newer touch pads.

Just in case Stranger Things cares.
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Old 11-13-2016, 01:31 PM   #29
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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Originally Posted by nmstevens View Post
This sort of anachronistic screenwriting is all over the place. I just started watching STRANGER THINGS on netflix. Period piece taking place back in the Seventies. ... they had a scene where the telephone (a dial phone) blow up. So, of course, since this was seventies, what does she do? She goes to the store and buys another phone.

Right. Except no, she doesn't. Because back then, you couldn't do that. And anyone who lived back then would know that. Back in the days of dial telephones, when Bell Telephone had a monopoly, you didn't own your phone. You leased it from the phone company. So if your phone broke (and that almost never happened because you could drive nails with those things) you had to call the phone company on somebody else's phone and they'd come and replace it.

You couldn't buy a phone from a private retailer.

NMS
Stranger Things is set in 1983 and you could definitely buy phones from private retailers in 1983. And not just rotary dial phones you could also buy touchtone phones and even cordless phones. I know this for a fact because I got a cordless phone from Radio Shack for Christmas in 1982.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:07 AM   #30
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Default Re: A springboard observation ...

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That Tarantino script ... I have not read it, nor have I even seen the film. But I have always wondered about that title. I thought it might include deliberate misspelling in accord with some obscure aesthetic intention.

Unfortunately, the success of people like Tarantino (if he really has all those spelling and grammatical errors) becomes an excuse for sloppiness by people who just do not want to learn spelling and grammar. For some reason, the attitude in this country is that grammar is like advanced calculus too difficult to learn, and why would I ever need it? In fact, grammar is really easy, but as with any system that has to be learned, it is easier to make it part of your cognitive apparatus when you are young and in a regimented environment (school). But apparently it is not taught in a rigorous fashion in high schools anymore. As a consequence, people do not learn how to break a sentence down, and if they cannot do that, they will never understand certain features of their own language.

Does it really even matter? The question is a legitimate one, and it has to be raised. I think that it does matter, but I will tell you honestly that I cannot prove it to you. I can only say that I believe that an understanding of your language makes you a better writer, because that understanding provides you with an awareness of tools at your disposal in the form of techniques like subordination and parallelism. And those are just two techniques. Writing is a struggle to achieve a smooth blend of meaning and form. In other words, what you say and how you say it. You want both to be elegant and effective. Sloppiness in writing does not promote that goal. In fact, sloppiness spirals downward, because it accepts the easy path, which is downward.

I like what David said in quoting Stanley Kubrick: "Either you care or you don't."
This is the gold standard guideline, if not response, to those who request a review of their work and then whine their reasons for not wanting to accept legitimate and valid critiques of their writing.
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