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Old 06-24-2019, 04:00 PM   #21
Centos
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

Quote:
Originally Posted by catcon View Post
This is a screenplay, so you should "try" to attain perfect, present action tense by avoiding gerunds, but sometimes it's hard, and not even preferable. We've debated this ad nauseum to death over and over many times, here in this place.
Yep ... discussed many times. But again, I would say there is no "should" here. And gerunds and present participles aren't the same thing (though they can be hard to differentiate). A gerund is (basically) a verb turned into a noun by using -ing. An -ing present participle phrase is a verb modifying the subject (which, I guess, is why I think of them as descriptive verbs). The English language is flexible and using different sentence structures for different situations is how you develop flow, pacing and mood. And I think it's silly to (figuratively) cut off one hand and say "Unlike other writing forms, it's preferable to use only hand when typing a screenplay."

Quote:
Originally Posted by catcon View Post
However, sometimes it makes sense. Take this example:

Quote:
She puts the picture in the box after wrapping it in newspaper.
Isn't this better (and in the correct action order):

Quote:
She wraps the picture in newspaper, then puts it in the box.
On its own, yes. But take fifteen sentences in a row that use the same structure and guess what you get? Stilted ("grocery list") style writing. My writing degraded when I tried to attain a "perfect, present tense" writing style from start to finish. Writing naturally flows from longer, more descriptive sentences to short punchy sentences when moving from mood-setting description to fast-paced action. For me it's tiring to read a screenplay in all "perfect present tense." It reads like a grocery list.

Here's another excerpt from Deja Vu, basically continuous action, except I haven't typed the dialogue. Note how the writers use "stand" and "standing" (and "ring" and "ringing") here. In my mind there is a good reason for that. (Again, -ing is capitalized by me in certain verbs.)

Code:
Doug looks past the cadets — near the dock, a SHELL SHOCKED WOMAN is standING alone, looking lost as the chaos swirls around her. ... Doug turns. Another agent, ANDREW PRYZWARRA, stands there, notebook over his head in the rain. ... Pryzwarra registers the rebuff. He looks out — nearby, the shell-shocked Woman is still standING alone, cryING in the rain. Przywarra starts to move toward her. ... The sudden muffled sound of a CELL PHONE. Both men turn — They're standING near a LINE OF BODIES laid out by paramedics. The cell phone RINGS AGAIN, inside one of the body bags. Never to be answered. Doug stares at it. Then he turns away, back toward his car. Pryzwarra stares at the body bag, cell phone still RINGING. ...
Again, you can see the function of the -ing verbs here. They serve to describe the background action (i.e., modifies the subject), while allowing the present tense verbs to stand out and grab our attention. Specifically note the use of "stands" when the writers introduce Andrew Pryzwarra ... "...ANDREW PRYZWARRA, stands there..." So why didn't they use "stand" or "stands" when they introduce the shell-shocked Woman? ("...a SHELL SHOCKED WOMAN is standING alone...") Because the focus is Doug's action ... he "looks," whereas the woman's "action" (standing) is descriptive. When Doug meets Andrew, "stands" is used because 1) he suddenly realizes that Andrew is there (not ongoing action) and 2) the focus of action is on Doug, we're not describing him.

The same goes for the cell phone. When it "RINGS AGAIN" that's the focus, not Doug and Andrew who are "standING." Then, in the last paragraph, Pryzwarra "stares" (focus on him again) while the phone continues "ringing" (which is now descriptive, setting the mood).

I know, I'm probably just confusing the issue. But I think it's important that writers NOT cripple themselves because of arbitrary writing "rules" dictating what the "shouldn't do."
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Last edited by Centos : 06-24-2019 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 06-24-2019, 04:06 PM   #22
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

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Once again I thank you all. I did find that by eradicating all -ing words the descriptions became stilted and dull. I will try to keep them to a minimal but not remove them simply to remove them.
Which is exactly what happened to my writing when I tried to apply this "rule." This is mostly why I'm so outspoken about the "-ing rule." Personal experience.
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Old 06-24-2019, 05:15 PM   #23
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

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...I know, I'm probably just confusing the issue...
Nope! You took us to school. Never too old to learn - if not the what, then at least the why. Thanks!
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Old 06-24-2019, 05:48 PM   #24
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

Can I ask, without sounding judgmental, who is a screenwriter who is commercially successful? This, out of everyone who responds.

Not to question what anyone does but I am trying to find the answer from people who have sold and I can see their work on screen.

If you haven’t, without prejudice, why not?

I’m trying to suss it all out.

Thanks

J
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Old 06-24-2019, 07:17 PM   #25
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

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Can I ask, without sounding judgmental, who is a screenwriter who is commercially successful? This, out of everyone who responds.
I've never sold anything. I haven't tried to sell anything because I haven't had anything worth selling. I've written about 400 short scripts (which wouldn't sell even if they were any good) and one terrible full-length feature screenplay. That's it. (My signature says it all.)

There are some pros who post here, however (used to be more when the forums were busier). And there are a few who are probably on the cusp.
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Old 06-25-2019, 08:43 AM   #26
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

INT. HOUSE - DAY

Ashlynn walks into the study with a large box. The study is near empty but for a few remaining items. She takes out stuff to pack up.

She opens a draw and gently removes some military medals, from the wardrobe she takes out a military peaked cap gives it a gentle wipe, then she takes a hunting knife from a locked cabinet...

MOMENTS LATER

Finally she reaches for a picture of Bill and Robbie from the fishing trip. It has been reframed.

She wraps it in newspaper and lays that picture in the box that already contains the cap, medals and knife inside.

She closes the box and writes "BILL" on the front.

INT. GARAGE - LATER

She places the box down and places a neatly folded American Flag on top of it. She closes the garage door as Robbie pulls up in the driveway.

EXT. HOUSE - DAY

Robbie talks to...
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Old 06-27-2019, 11:13 PM   #27
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

Rewriting scenes is like catnip to idiots like me.

It seemed like the box and Ashlynn's hands were the main characters in this scene, so that's what I focused on. I was trying to get rid of some of the "She... in the box" lines.

Anyway, for what's it worth, which isn't a lot.


INT. DEN - DAY

A large box sits on the floor of the nearly empty room.

From a drawer, Ashlynn removes military medals and carefully
folds them before putting them in the box.

She gently wipes a military peaked cap from the wardrobe, and
also puts it in. Next a hunting knife from a locking cabinet.

Finally, a picture of Bill and Robbie from the fishing trip.
It is re-framed. She wraps it in newspaper and places it in
the box.

Ashlynn closes it up and writes "BILL" on it.

From the wardrobe she removes an American flag, neatly folds
it and drapes it on top of the box.
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Old 06-28-2019, 02:11 PM   #28
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

Stop worrying about it all so much.

Write action or description in a normal fashion. Keep each paragraph no longer than four lines (most of the time) just to keep the page from having a dense look.

Usually four lines are enough to contain a discrete action or a set of closely related actions or descriptions.

Do not overthink this.

Download Craig Mazin's five Chernobyl scripts. Truly, I think that Craig broke every rule in the book about how to write a script (though I do not remember any specifics about his paragraph lengths; I would have to go back and check).

Stop worrying so much. Just write and make it look like a screenplay.
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:12 AM   #29
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

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Originally Posted by ComicBent View Post
Stop worrying about it all so much.
great advice.

Quote:
Write action or description in a normal fashion. Keep each paragraph no longer than four lines (most of the time) just to keep the page from having a dense look.
one, two and three lines mostly. occasional 4 lines when absolutely necessary to the story. this should an exception.

Quote:
Usually four lines are enough to contain a discrete action or a set of closely related actions or descriptions.

Do not overthink this.

Download Craig Mazin's five Chernobyl scripts. Truly, I think that Craig broke every rule in the book about how to write a script (though I do not remember any specifics about his paragraph lengths; I would have to go back and check).

Stop worrying so much. Just write and make it look like a screenplay.
as far as Mazin is concerned, he didn't break any rules, because there are no rules. i agree with him.

this belief in rules holds writers back. i believe that. i break the 'rules' all the time. it doesn't concern me a bit, and i've never had an exec say, "she shouldn't do this," more often it was, "i can see why you want to work with her," and, "great writing."

what matters is a story well told.

you do have to make good choices in the way you deliver the story. never taking the reader out of it-- always engaging the reader emotionally, intellectually, and in an entertaining way.

episode one of Chernobyl has 8 paragraphs with 4 lines, roughly one in every 6.75 pages. two 5 liners or one every 27 pages.

the rest of the paragraphs are 1, 2, and three lines.

good to keep in mind, i think.
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Old 07-05-2019, 01:58 PM   #30
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Default Re: Scene with no dialogue

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Originally Posted by Jab2019 View Post
Hi Guys,

Please see below what I have written and maybe this will help with my answer. It doesn't read entirely exciting as I constantly have to use the word 'box'. All the items have a reason for being put into the box also.

So, any advice is gratefully received.

Thanks

J

Int.house-DAY

Ashlynn walks into the study with a large box. The study is near empty but for a few remaining items.

She opens a draw and gently removes some military medals. She carefully puts them in the box.

From the wardrobe she takes out a military peaked cap, gives it a gentle wipe and places it in the box.

She takes a hunting knife from a locked cabinet and adds it to the box.

She reaches for the picture of Bill and Robbie from the fishing trip. It has been re framed. She wraps it in newspaper and lays it in the box.

She closes the box and writes Bill on the front.

She reaches into the wardrobe and removes an American flag. She neatly folds it and drapes it on top of the box.

She carries the box downstairs and places it in the garage as Robbie arrives home.
You can cut this back with a few edits. Starting each sentence with "She" and repeating "box" is redundant. You can enter the scene later by starting in the study with Ashlynn already in the process of packing the box. Also -- the last line is a new scene in the garage.

Never underestimate how much a reader's mind will fill in. If I tell you she's packing a box, I don't need to tell you each item is going into the box because that's been established in line one.

Hope this helps.
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