On-the-nose and info dump



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  • On-the-nose and info dump

    Okay. I have a general idea of what these two terms mean, and to some extent, can even apply that knowledge. (letting the cheers die down)

    Can someone give me examples of exactly WHEN the lines get crossed?

    And, as always, I thank you for your input.

  • #2
    Re: On-the-nose and info dump

    On the nose = characters explicitly and directly say exactly what they feel and think.

    Info Dump (AKA exposition) = characters explain the story for no dramatic reason. IOW the only reason why the characters speaks is to explain the story to the audience.

    Fortune favors the bold - Virgil


    • #3


      • #4
        Re: On-the-nose and info dump

        Hey Emerger,

        Yeah, I'd pretty much say that's almost total exposition. I guess there are numerous phrases for the concept; another well known one is "Show, don't tell." And this scene is all telling, no showing. Perhaps consider showing the thief entering the city, and perhaps a guard noticing it, and starting in the middle of the scene.


        • #5
          Re: On-the-nose and info dump

          Methinks technically no, these scenes aren't 100% on-the-nose or info dumps, they're partly that and partly something else to avoid if possible: talking heads. Dialogue that goes on for so long that whatever is being discussed becomes a meaningless blah -- a verbal tennis match with no emotional highlights or beats, just a back-and-forth-across-the-net exchange.

          Sure, give the script to Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, Derek Jacobi and other powerful voices with a Royal Shakespearean background and they'll make it sing. But they're not here. In their place, consider setting up love/hate relationships between your characters. Tinker someone's dialogue so he becomes the dissenter, the doubter, the challenger. We cannot wait until Bar Gioras returns! What if he can't raise an army? We must fight now! But we have no weapons! Then we'll use our bare hands! Fool, the enemy will slaughter us! etc. Factor in something to distinguish your characters from one another. Give them individual voices, unique points of view. I care not about Temple Mount, what about my oxen and goats? You North Quarter Jews are all the same, all you care about are your stinking animals. No man calls my goat stinking and lives! Put that knife away! We must fight together as one, or else we all perish! etc. Let their emotional interplay underline the importance of what's being discussed. Joshua, what do we do with captured Roman officers, do we ransom them or what? WE BURN THEM! WE BURN THEM ALIVE! AS THEY BURNED MY FAMILY! Er, okay Zachariah, calm down mate...

          Or not, shrug. Just an idea.

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          • #6
            Re: On-the-nose and info dump

            Emerger you have to find a more visual and dramatic way of giving the information required. This doesn't just mean 'show don't tell' EVERYTHING in a screenplay happens because something else has happened before. That goes for plot, story and character interactions. If all that is happening in your scene is what is 'happening in your scene' then RETHINK your scene.

            Try and get conflict into everything. Two people discussing a situation is DULL no matter how exciting the situation they are discussing is. Get more into your scenes. Disguise the exposition. Make your conversations mean something in addition to what they are actually saying. Right now it is a very flat read.


            • #7
              Re: On-the-nose and info dump

              Emerger, I can see that scene as being played by a group of men realizing their power is being threatened, their world coming unglued. I can see that as a tense scene of building drama. Gangsters sitting around plotting who to rub out. Exposition isn't bad, it's necessary, it just needs to be (as others have said) delivered dramatically and well.

              If we live in a cinema where people are afraid of captivating dialogue, of conflict in words as well as handguns and swords ... we are poorer as writers for it.
              "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world -
              that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves."
              -Mahatma Gandhi.


              • #8
                Re: On-the-nose and info dump

                Your example reads like a play.

                In movies, don't tell us what had already happened (especially if we saw it).
                Don't tell us what is about to happen. Keep each scene in the moment.

                This happens ... and so, new scene ... this happens ... and so, new scene ... this happens ... and so on ... and so on ...
                "I am the story itself; its source, its voice, its music."
                - Clive Barker, Galilee


                • #9
                  Re: On-the-nose and info dump

                  I'm trying to keep this within the five-page limit rule. The short version is that John of Gischala has just outfoxed Titus and escaped the Roman army. He leads his group of fifteen hundred men into Jerusalem with the plan of taking control of the city. After he enters the city, his men disperse throughout a section of Jerusalem called the Lower City. This is what I'm getting at:

                  EXT. JERUSALEM - THE VALLEY GATE - DAY

                  John of Gischala enters Jerusalem on horseback, followed by his band of merry men.

                  A large crowd gathers and follows them through the city.

                  Two of his men hide in the crowd of onlookers.


                  Hail John of Gischala! He has come to save us from the Romans!


                  Hail John of Gischala! He will deliver us!

                  The crowd cheers. As the cheers die down an old MAN in the crowd shouts:


                  Do not listen to that man! He's no soldier! He fled the Romans to hide among us here!


                  YOU! You, sir! Have you ever killed a Roman!

                  The MAN looks down to the ground.


                  I thought as much!

                  (to the crowd)

                  Well I have! A great many of them! On the plains north of my own home! And at the city walls!

                  The crowd cheers.


                  And no, we did not flee the Romans! We were driven from the land of my fathers by the great multitudes of reinforcements they were forced to bring to defeat us!

                  The crowd cheers again.


                  The Romans have taken Gischala!

                  The crowd boos.


                  And this, all of this, was not for lack of courage of the men of Gischala, but for the lack of courage of the leaders of Jerusalem!

                  The crowd boos louder.


                  Where were the leaders of Jerusalem as my brethren fell? Did they come to our rescue?

                  The crowd shouts: NO!


                  Did they send an army to fight alongside us?

                  The crowd shouts: NO!


                  Will they stand and fight the Romans here, and defend you, or will they turn you over to Roman bondage to live out your days as slaves to our enemies?

                  The crowd turns bloodthirsty.


                  Those of you who would die as free men, rather than live as slaves to the Romans...FOLLOW ME!

                  The crowd cheers louder than ever and follows after John.

                  Azriel approaches the MAN from behind and stabs him through the base of his skull. He disappears with the dying man into an alley.

                  Azriel walks from the alley, looks both ways, and rejoins the crowd.


                  A man, URIEL, stands in the shadows inside a second-story window, looking down at the crowd.


                  Ananus sits at the table with Zacharia and Joshua. Uriel stands before them. The room is empty.


                  Is it as bad as we suspected?


                  Yes. The bandit John of Gischala entered the city only an hour ago. Already multitudes are following him.


                  We cannot let this get out of control. There is still a chance to make peace with the Romans if no one acts brashly.


                  All hope for that seems to have disappeared with the arrival of this criminal.


                  Bar Gioras will return soon with a proper Army. We will make our plans then. Maintain order on the Temple Mount until he arrives.

                  (to URIEL)

                  Go now. Stay as close to John of Gischala as you dare.

                  Uriel nods an acknowledgement and leaves.


                  Joseph is right. We cannot make war with the Romans, no one could. We must do what we can to keep the Temple. As long as we have the Temple, we have Jerusalem.

                  Later, all hell is breaking loose, Uriel reports back to Ananus, and Ananus is forced to act, even though he doesn't want to make things worse. I knew enough not to have one of John's men say something like "Well, I'm glad we were able to disperse throughout the Lower City".

                  Thanks again for everyone's comments. You've certainly made me go back and look at it from different angles.