LEAN/SPARSE vs ARTICULATE/POETIC/???

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  • #16
    That's tight.

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    • #17
      visionayri

      more novelistic language is used in scripts all the time. but, it's peppered into the narrative - that is, only used when appropriate. i don't think it's right to use this type of writing for every line of narrative, but if used well, i find it a real pleasure to read. i'm talking about produced scripts by leading writers like ronald bass.

      the question should not be whether to use such techniques but when to use them. next question should be 'do i have to talent to write in this fashion?' if you don't, keep it lean and nobody will notice that you don't have the talent for more poetic writing


      zilla

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      • #18

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        • #19
          Of course it's worth pointing out I think that you can also end up underwriting a script, as in I read the odd script on here and the action is so lean that you lose track of what's going on, it might have been clear to the writer but he didn't choose he words carefully enough.

          But yes, more often than not you can cut, cut, cut.

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          • #20
            So high above the world tonight
            The Angels watch us sleeping
            And underneath a bridge of stars
            We dream is safety's keeping
            But perhaps the dream
            Is dreaming us
            Soaring with the seagulls
            Perhaps the dream
            Is dreaming us
            Astride the backs of eagles

            When the Angels fall
            Shadows on the wall
            In the thunder's call
            Something haunts us all
            When the Angels fall
            When the Angels fall

            Sting

            Interesting how poetry IMO is as close to screenwriting than any other writing. Economy with words.

            Wild Sea

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            • #21
              I have less difficulty writing lean readable script than I do at what I'm supposed to include. Little details can get out of hand when all you want to do is move through the scene. But they may or may not be necessary details.

              EG.

              Conflict arises from two cops interrogating a prisoner. Now, the goal of the prisoner is to keep the information to themself, and the cops obviously want to get it out of him.

              You come in too early like the cop tossing the guy to the wall, or getting pissed off and drawing a gun, it's over. So you have to have rising tension to the climax of the scene and then present the information in such a way that the audience wasn't expecting it. Thus another step fulfilled and more work for the protag.

              In reality you can take quite awhile talking, threatening, dealing but not in the screenworld. No way. You gotta get out quick. So the trick isn't lean, it may be a little fat presented in such a way that it's exciting to the audience. Witty subtext, spooked prisoner, aggressive prisoner.

              It's a balance and sometimes I can't find it. The above was an actual scene I was working on and finally gave up. I went the route of the 'fvck accepted procedure' cops taking the prisoner the long way around on the way to the interrogation room. And used the bad cop, bad cop thing with the threat of a rather interesting way of administering pain to the prisoner in a rather secluded place.

              It quickened up the scene, had more conflict, and solved my problem. I just hate talky scenes. Can't do it. And since I suck at prose, getting to the point comes easy. But getting to the point sometimes takes too long. Make sense? :lol

              Probably not. Disregard the babble. I'm having a bad writing day with the above scene topping off the list of problamatic endeavors.

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              • #22
                Revisionist,

                Bad cop, bad cop. Try entering at the point of the silent cop faces expressing the stare-down and the emotional weakening of the prisoner's psyche. Then gradually move into a hostile situation. That should cut a lot of writing and work into a tense ending to the scene. If that's where you're going with it.

                Just an idea. What do you think?

                Wild Sea.

                Trying to give back. Don't everyone laugh at the same time.

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                • #23
                  Man, where were you when I was agonizing over the interrogation scene...

                  Kidding. The problem I had with writing the scene was avoiding cliche. Cliche pisses me off. I went around the whole thing up and down and it didn't matter what I did. On the surface. The visual, not the dialogue, I mean. Was cliche.

                  So I took the whole scene away from the interrogation room and put in a shop. Lotsa tools around. Two hard ass cops who not only hate the prisoner and what he stands for, but dislike eachother... And the choice of enviroment feeds directly from the protag's personality. Was a win, win.

                  What I ended up with was a nice fresh spin on a scene we've seen over and over in the theater. It was well worth the work. And gave me room to advance both characters without the confines of a boring room.

                  Thanks for the suggestions though.

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                  • #24
                    I think what to aim for is to be descriptive *just enough* and remember that the writer is not necessarily the director. I saw an interview with someone, I think it was Tony Scott or maybe Joe Roth(?). He was raving about his writer and said said he likes it when a script leaves a lot to the imagination, it makes his job easier. Try not to insult the director by spelling it out too much.

                    For example. If you have a dog in your screenplay that is mainly a prop to show that your character has a reason to walk every day in the park, don't describe the dog, "A female blonde cocker-spaniel with an agile, feisty disposition" because someone reading your script will roll their eyes and possibly not want to work with someone who is that much of a control freak. Just say "feisty, medium sized dog" Of course, if the dog is the main character and you're doing a live action of Lady and The Tramp, then by all means, describe the dog to the letter.

                    So, in my limited knowledge, it's always best to lean towards lean when you can, but articulate clearly when your story calls for it. Wherever you can give the director and producers some creative freedom, do it, but also don't be so sparse that they have trouble visualizing your story.

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                    • #25
                      Edited because I actually realized what I'd written here, before my first cup of coffee this morning, was beyond irrelevant.

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