Click here for Done Deal Pro home page

Done Deal Pro Home Page

Loading

Go Back   Done Deal Pro Forums > About the Craft > Screenwriting
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-26-2015, 07:24 PM   #1
Manchester
Member
 
Manchester's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,243
Default Starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

I sometimes end scenes with a setup for a punchline, and the punchline is the first dialogue in the next scene. And when I do that, it often reads better (to me) if, in the second scene, I put the first action text after the dialogue/punchline. For example (I just wrote the following to post here) -

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (to her phone) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce. JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout.
Versus the standard formatting...

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout. JANE (to her phone) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce.
Anyone bothered or confused by the formatting of the first version? Anyone seen pro scripts that use the first version/style?
Manchester is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2015, 11:14 PM   #2
Ronaldinho
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2,288
Default Re: starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

This is absolutely within the realm of acceptable. It's fine.
Ronaldinho is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2015, 03:11 AM   #3
TheKeenGuy
Moderator
 
TheKeenGuy's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Norfolk, VA
Posts: 3,212
Default Re: starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

I suppose that's a similar effect to how, in film editing, dialogue often precedes the change of shot which, in that case, motivates the change of perspective. At worst, it's slightly disorienting to those so accustomed to an establishing action line first, but it does an effective job of indicating the next line of dialogue comes in right on top of the previous one.

In the script I'm currently working on, the one time I do something at all similar is the result of cutting to a flashback. Character talks, new scene heading as we flash black and his dialogue continues as VO, new scene heading as we're back to present, and he finishes his line of dialogue. By not bothering to re-establish the scene in action, I felt it implied that we cut back to the very same shot.
TheKeenGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2015, 07:56 AM   #4
Paul Striver
Regular
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 373
Default Re: starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

I don't think the way you're doing it is confusing, but the more standard way is to explicitly call it out as a PRELAP (or PRE-LAP)

People indicate a prelap in a variety of ways all of them acceptable and widely used. Some examples:

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! JANE (PRE-LAP) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce. INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout, talks on her phone.
Or:

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! JANE (V.O., PRELAP) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce. INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout, talks on her phone.
Or:

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! PRELAP: JANE (V.O.) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce. INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout, talks on her phone.
You can also prelap other sounds, e.g.,

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! PRELAP: A siren wails. INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY Something about an ambulance.
Paul Striver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2015, 12:05 PM   #5
Jon Jay
Member
 
Jon Jay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 478
Default Re: Starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

Re: prelap, I think in the original example the point is that we cut to the new location then get the line of dialogue. A prelap would suggest we stay in the kitchen, hear Jane's punchline then cut to the gym.

I found the first example works perfectly fine.
__________________
My stuff
Jon Jay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2015, 12:29 PM   #6
Paul Striver
Regular
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 373
Default Re: Starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Jay View Post
Re: prelap, I think in the original example the point is that we cut to the new location then get the line of dialogue. A prelap would suggest we stay in the kitchen, hear Jane's punchline then cut to the gym.

I found the first example works perfectly fine.
You're right. I misunderstood what the original poster was trying to do.
Paul Striver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2015, 05:10 PM   #7
ScriptGal
Regular
 
ScriptGal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 294
Default Re: Starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

Paul may have misunderstood, but I liked his versions better.
__________________
ScriptGal
Screenplay Consultation & Analysis
Fifteen Years Development Experience
http://www.scriptgal.com/

Discount for DD Members!
ScriptGal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2015, 03:29 AM   #8
bioprofessor
Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 2,408
Default Re: Starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manchester View Post
I sometimes end scenes with a setup for a punchline, and the punchline is the first dialogue in the next scene. And when I do that, it often reads better (to me) if, in the second scene, I put the first action text after the dialogue/punchline. For example (I just wrote the following to post here) -

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (to her phone) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce. JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout.
Versus the standard formatting...

Code:
INT. KITCHEN - DAY JACK (35) chopping up veggies, JOE (35) at the kitchen table. JACK Joe -- guaranteed, Jane will love it! INT. HEALTH CLUB - DAY JANE (35), on a bench, sweaty from her workout. JANE (to her phone) Sure, Joe. And then, on Monday -- I'll file for divorce.
Anyone bothered or confused by the formatting of the first version? Anyone seen pro scripts that use the first version/style?
I get it, but from a purely staging perspective, isn't Jane the first "thing" we're going to see when we cut to the next scene? I also think what Jane is doing informs her response. If we see her agitated, pacing rapidly, then that reveals something much different about her personality and state of mind, compared to if she's kicking back, sipping a smoothie and checking out the studs in the gym. And how is she communicating with Joe? On the phone? In person? I wouldn't say confusing, but it may be sacrificing depth and context for comedic timing.

ETA: Disregard the communication comment. I missed the parenthetical, (to her phone).

Last edited by bioprofessor : 03-29-2015 at 05:05 AM.
bioprofessor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2015, 06:01 PM   #9
Manchester
Member
 
Manchester's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,243
Default Re: Starting a scene with a punchline/dialogue before any action

Thanks all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Jay View Post
Re: prelap, I think in the original example the point is that we cut to the new location then get the line of dialogue.
Thanks for your help with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScriptGal View Post
Paul may have misunderstood, but I liked his versions better.
How so? You think his versions are funnier?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bioprofessor View Post
but it may be sacrificing depth and context for comedic timing.
To me, that's a winner. As long as it's not unclear, I'll go for comedic timing every time, because I'm hoping to get a visceral reaction from the reader. And even if I don't get that, my concern is the reader won't get that Jane is delivering the punchline, versus simply starting a new conversation that begins after the HEALTH CLUB slugline.

OTOH, I can certainly see other writers doing it action-then-dialogue.

After reading the posts about pre-lapping it, I realize it could be more likely the reader would get the joke/timing if I write it as pre-lap, even if I wouldn't want it on the screen that way.

Again, thanks all.
Manchester is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:36 PM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Done Deal Pro

eXTReMe Tracker