Click here for Done Deal Pro home page

Done Deal Pro Home Page

Loading

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

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-15-2018, 06:10 PM   #1
Centos
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 1,932
Default Importance of cadence in screenplays?

I think cadence and voice are closely related. I think cadence should come naturally when writing. And I think this is also something else that the "never do" screenplay gurus "short circuit" for new writers.

I think the following description of cadence in writing (not specifically screenplay writing) pretty much nails it ...

Quote:
Cadence in writing is a sense of rhythm and pace, it lifts the narrative from the page and makes it dynamic; brings a certain tempo to the words and sentences; it’s what makes prose poetic, layered and fluid without it being extravagant. Cadence makes the writing visual and evocative, and to an extent, beautiful. It’s an important element in fiction writing, because without it, narrative certainly won’t be as effective.
...
By combining many of the elements listed here, a writer can create cadence, something that would emphasise mood, tone and fluidity of prose. Done properly, the reader won’t know that the rhythm, pitch and flow of the prose is cadence at work, but they’ll read it and enjoy it. Without cadence, narrative wouldn’t be half as effective or indeed as beautiful to read.
http://allwritefictionadvice.blogspo...n-writing.html

I maintain that "ing" verbs, the "ly" adverbs, the using "is" and "are" come naturally when writing establishing shots, introductions, or building suspense. And that the gurus' "never dos" work better when the action starts. That those who try to follow the "never do" gurus' advice often try to apply the action style of screenplay writing to the whole script. So what you end up with a soulless, step-by-step, "mechanical," "paint-by-number" (boring) script – where your character's actions don't stand out from the background because everything is written in the urgent now. I think new writers need to know that using the "never do's" advice is not how you break in. And that, no, this is not something experienced writers can "get away with" – good, "evocative" writing is how they got noticed in the first place.

At any rate, just curious if you notice cadence when reading or writing screenplays.
__________________
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.
Centos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2018, 10:15 AM   #2
sc111
Member
 
sc111's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 7,322
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

Yes -- cadence is important. Not only in screenwriting -- in all forms of writing including non-fiction and journalism.

The reason: our first experience with language is the spoken word. And there's cadence in human speech. It sounds natural to us even when we're reading print on a page.

That's why a lack of cadence in a written piece is far more noticeable and, well, irritating. Without cadence, the reader is thrown out of the narrative, wondering, "Wait. What did I just read?" And they return to the beginning of the passage to read it again. Or, worse, they zone out completely and stop reading. "Boring."

When I worked on staff at ad agencies I was often tasked with training junior copywriters. Many would hang in my office and tell me stories about things that happened to them. Interesting stories with a natural cadence. Using a mix of long sentences and short sentences they created a rhythm infused with the emotion they wanted to elicit in me.

Yet, when they handed me their work it was often one long drone. I found myself constantly advising, "Write the way you speak." Some got it immediately. Others didn't. That's when I told them to close their eyes and listen as I read their work aloud. It always drove the point home.

The Lethal Weapon pages you posted in the other thread are a perfect example of spoken-word cadence in action lines. You can imagine Shane Black sitting at a table with friends telling this story over cocktails. He's writing the way he speaks.

I'm a passionate lover of language and evocative writing. When I read a piece of kick-ass writing like this I mentally high-five the writer. I'm seduced by their fearlessness and want to read more. And learn all I can from what their writing can teach me.

I'm not talking solely about action lines. Skilled plotting. Out-of-the-box twists and reversals. Brilliantly-drawn characters and the strategy of the words coming out of their mouths.

Yet, after far too many years here on Done Deal, it still surprises me to find a number of aspiring writers appear unable to discern kick-ass writing from horribly bad work. As a result, they can't be objective about the quality of their own work. Lack of objectivity is the kiss of death for a writer.
__________________
Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. ďTry this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.Ē
sc111 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2018, 11:07 AM   #3
Joaneasley
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,442
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

I find when I'm rereading what I've written, parts of it need to be faster and tauter to project more urgency, while other parts need to be slowed down to give enough weight to an emotional moment.
Joaneasley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2018, 03:04 PM   #4
TwoBrad Bradley
Member
 
TwoBrad Bradley's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,018
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

I donít drive myself nuts thinking about cadence. Itís difficult enough to write the exact words I want the actor to say without the way I want the actor to say them.

I can point the actor in a certain direction with what happens before or next. I trust the actor to do it right, or even better.
__________________
"I am the story itself; its source, its voice, its music."
- Clive Barker, Galilee
TwoBrad Bradley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2018, 06:39 PM   #5
Joaneasley
Member
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,442
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

For me, that's not about how fast or slowly I want the actors to say the words. I choose to use more sparse and staccato words and phrases when conveying urgency, and I tend to use more lines of dialog -- sometimes incomplete thoughts -- and take more time when I want a character or characters to have trouble saying something difficult for them to say.
Joaneasley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2018, 11:10 PM   #6
TigerFang
Member
 
TigerFang's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: 39į 6' 11.2284'' N, 84į 30' 43.2576'' W
Posts: 1,108
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

The importance of cadence in life; a cadence-related article: “The Surprising Benefit Of Moving And Grooving With Your Kid”
TigerFang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2018, 05:34 PM   #7
Centos
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 1,932
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sc111 View Post
Yes -- cadence is important. Not only in screenwriting -- in all forms of writing including non-fiction and journalism.

The reason: our first experience with language is the spoken word. And there's cadence in human speech. It sounds natural to us even when we're reading print on a page.

That's why a lack of cadence in a written piece is far more noticeable and, well, irritating. Without cadence, the reader is thrown out of the narrative, wondering, "Wait. What did I just read?" And they return to the beginning of the passage to read it again. Or, worse, they zone out completely and stop reading. "Boring."

When I worked on staff at ad agencies I was often tasked with training junior copywriters. Many would hang in my office and tell me stories about things that happened to them. Interesting stories with a natural cadence. Using a mix of long sentences and short sentences they created a rhythm infused with the emotion they wanted to elicit in me.

Yet, when they handed me their work it was often one long drone. I found myself constantly advising, "Write the way you speak." Some got it immediately. Others didn't. That's when I told them to close their eyes and listen as I read their work aloud. It always drove the point home.

The Lethal Weapon pages you posted in the other thread are a perfect example of spoken-word cadence in action lines. You can imagine Shane Black sitting at a table with friends telling this story over cocktails. He's writing the way he speaks.

I'm a passionate lover of language and evocative writing. When I read a piece of kick-ass writing like this I mentally high-five the writer. I'm seduced by their fearlessness and want to read more. And learn all I can from what their writing can teach me.

I'm not talking solely about action lines. Skilled plotting. Out-of-the-box twists and reversals. Brilliantly-drawn characters and the strategy of the words coming out of their mouths.

Yet, after far too many years here on Done Deal, it still surprises me to find a number of aspiring writers appear unable to discern kick-ass writing from horribly bad work. As a result, they can't be objective about the quality of their own work. Lack of objectivity is the kiss of death for a writer.
Worth repeating! I've never actually read anything by Shane Black before, but I was blown away by the excerpt quoted in the other thread. Not necessarily by the style but by the result, how clearly you could SEE what he was describing. The purpose of that post was not to get people to write like Shane Black – I think that would be as useless and silly as slavishly following the never do "rules" – the purpose is to let people know that using your own voice (with confidence and honesty) is WHY people break in. Again, ignoring the "never do" rules and having confidence to use your own voice is not the exception, it's the rule for those who break in.

As for your last paragraph ... "can't be objective about the quality of their own work" ... it was the reading another break-out script is that basically made me figure out that I probably didn't "have it" (when I had thought I was getting close). I realized I wasn't writing near that level. (Still not.)
__________________
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.
Centos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2018, 05:36 PM   #8
Centos
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Idaho
Posts: 1,932
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
I donít drive myself nuts thinking about cadence. Itís difficult enough to write the exact words I want the actor to say without the way I want the actor to say them.

I can point the actor in a certain direction with what happens before or next. I trust the actor to do it right, or even better.
There's a lot more to cadence than dialogue.
__________________
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.
Centos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2018, 08:52 PM   #9
catcon
Member
 
catcon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: London, Canada
Posts: 1,891
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

I just wrapped up a viewing of Rod Serling's "Patterns", which I'd never seen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMnU4faUMUY

Brilliant pacing, not to mention a master course in conflict. Cadence? You're carried along in one furious debate after another, and then total silence takes over to let it all sink in. Your ears pop.

And all without a single left hook or a display of pyrotechnics or a dollar in CGI:

To my mind, as good as "12 Angry Men".
catcon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-27-2018, 08:44 AM   #10
Crayon
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: ME3/EN/GB/UK/EU/UN
Posts: 608
Default Re: Importance of cadence in screenplays?

Wast a single satyr e'er to play Pan's wanton pedant, then such a ragged faun may wonder wherefore thee drapeth 'cadence' upon Dionysus, our premier patron, whilst dost not fervent quills more gaily tailor 'prosody' to fit his form most fair?
__________________
Know this: I'm an amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
"The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." - Oscar Wilde
Crayon 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 03:35 PM.


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

eXTReMe Tracker