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Old 11-04-2017, 08:17 PM   #1
jeanpaul
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Default Rules for description/action in TV spec pilot?

I've been told in features the rule of thumb is one line for each action or movement. Is this the same for TV?

For example, which one is proper:

Joe stands at the bar. Bert enters and scans the room. Joe downs his drink.
Bert slides in next to Joe and pats him on the shoulder.

or

Joe stands at the bar.
Bert enters and scans the room.
Joe downs his drink.
Bert slides in next to Joe and pats him on the shoulder.

thanks.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:27 PM   #2
TwoBrad Bradley
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Default Re: Rules for description/action in TV spec pilot?

Feature or TV: Either way is okay. It's a personal style thing.
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Old 11-05-2017, 03:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rules for description/action in TV spec pilot?

whatever the least boring, most engaging for the reader way is
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Old 11-07-2017, 11:35 AM   #4
jeanpaul
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Default Re: Rules for description/action in TV spec pilot?

thanks for the replies. I'm surprised though as example 1 takes up less space thus allowing for more pages. I suppose its considered a negligible difference by readers then.
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Old 11-08-2017, 05:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: Rules for description/action in TV spec pilot?

Quote:
Joe stands at the bar. Bert enters and scans the room. Joe downs his drink. Bert slides in next to Joe and pats him on the shoulder.
As many professionals have observed here through the years (sometimes with venom dripping from their fangs ), there are no rules. Well, of course, the script still needs to look like a screenplay, but within that general parameter you have a lot of flexibility.

The notion of one action for each paragraph is not a bad principle, but you should not carry it to an extreme. Sometimes the "action" is really a sequence of closely related small events that all together represent a moment of interest.

That is really what you have going on in your example. You could write it in several ways, depending on how you see things playing out in your mind. What happens first is an important consideration. If you want us to see Joe at the bar before we see anything else, then you need to open with that, as you did, or make things a little less choppy with something like this:

Code:
Joe is standing at the bar. Bert enters, scans the room, and sees Joe as he downs a drink. Bert slides in next to him and pats him on the shoulder.
Or if the emphasis is not on Joe as the first image (we see Bert first, maybe this):

Code:
When Bert enters, he scans the room and sees Joe downing a drink at the bar. Bert slides in next to him and pats him on the shoulder.
Quote:
I'm surprised though as example 1 takes up less space thus allowing for more pages.
In my opinion, you should never massage and adjust your writing to make your page count come out greater or smaller.

Yeah, if your page count is running high, and you have a lot of purely extraneous description in your script, you can cut that out. But it should never have been there in the first place.

Keep your actions together in logical units and make everything flow naturally. In general, action paragraphs do not need more than four lines. If you exceed that, you may be trying to put too many things into one paragraph. But that is a general guideline, not a rule.
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rules for description/action in TV spec pilot?

Write it like Buffy the Vampire Slayer scripts.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0743419340...oding=UTF8&me=
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