Conscience - How to show the struggle

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  • #16
    Some more examples of what I've been talking about. The final 3 are tailor-made for your needs, especially the last one detailing internal conflict. Just like the example I provided in my initial reply (shameless brag!)


    Ripley steps ack as the troopers shuffle past nodding cursory hellos. She feels isolated by the camaraderie of this tight-knit group.


    Ripley grins. She speaks quietly, not wanting to break the spell.


    Vasquez moves ferret-quick in a pivoting dance. Thunder and lightning. Better than sex for her.


    Ripley shrugs. Drained by the nerve -wracking tension.


    Gorman is ashen. Confused. Gulping for air like a grouper. How could the situation have unravelled so fast?


    Burke, hyperventilating with terror, backs across the dark chamber. Gasping, almost paralysed with fear.


    Tight on Ripley: as she struggles with a decision. She's terrified....of what she knows she's about to do. But more than that, she's furious.
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    • #17
      Personally I wouldn't use the example of someone being asked to slice another person's throat, since most people in such a situation would be horrified, but that makes it pretty easy, actually: she can cringe, close her eyes in revulsion, step back, stammer, shake, etc. Tougher to show are more subtle emotions, but all you really need is a line to say there is conflict (which as someone pointed out will be easy if your character is already well established) and let the actor do the rest. For instance, a character needs to decide whether to report someone or not. Yes means her friend gets in trouble, no means she violates her own ethics and puts the whole company at risk.

      "Mary sighs. Another tough choice in a day of tough choices."
      "Mary closes her eyes. To report it or not to report it?"
      "Mary stares hard a Bill, the conflicting emotions inside her playing across her eyes. He gulps, awaiting her decision."
      "Mary punches the wall. Seriously? After all the crap she's just been through, now this?"
      "Mary opens her mouth and howls at the moon, sick and tired of having to make difficult decisions when she could be at home with a bottle of pinot and some crappy show on NF."
      "Mary runs to her drug drawer and shoots up. She closes her eyes, calm at last and ready to face the difficult choice she has to make."

      It's really up to every writer's own personal style, but the main thing is: don't overthink it. Just say it.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
        How do I show a goody-goody female character struggling with her conscience on whether or not to do an illegal act?

        I have a bunch of scripts on my harddrive and yet can't find a scene like this to give me ideas.

        Thanks, guys.
        Mitzi struggles with her conscience re the affair in The Fabelmans ( https://awards.universalpictures.com..._Fabelmans.pdf )

        But I think the construction is the important thing, she's held back from following her dream, there are characters pushing and pulling in directions, the consequence of choices and so on. It's in the construction IMO.
        Last edited by Timmy; 02-19-2023, 03:10 AM. Reason: spelling
        Story Structure 1
        Story Structure 2
        Story Structure 3

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