Do I have to...



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  • Do I have to...

    ...describe, in detail, the look of every other-wordly character in a sc-fi / fantasy script?

    Say, for example, I have a DEMON MINION. How little can I describe it and not have the reader feel like I've short changed them on what it looks like?

    Anyone got any guidelines?


    See, this is why I typically write comedy...I don't have to deal with this kinda sh!t....

  • #2
    Personally, I don't think you need much detail at all and it may in fact be much better to leave a lot up to the reader's imagination. An image or two should do the trick:

     A DEMON MINION, huge mouth full of razor-sharp teeth,
    or even perhaps simply giving them a name which indicates how they look:

    *shrug* sh!te examples but just off the top of my head.


    • #3
      I agree. You want to give enough to direct the reader's imagination but not so much that it encumbers the read. IOW sell the sizzle not the steak.

      A DEMON MINION, 300 pounds of muscle and teeth.

      A TURD DEMON, a festering repulsive blob with eyes.


      • #4
        I like Deus' descriptions. I think it's also valid to do something like this:

        A TURD DEMON, a festering replusive blob with eyes.

        Stuff happens.

        Dialogue happens.

        Other stuff happens.

        Stumpy the turd demon traps Bruce in a corner. It comes in slowly. Now we see puss bubbling out its ears. One of its teeth stabs through an upper lip.


        Which is to say, only describe what you need to up front. I think it's fair to fill in bits and pieces as you go along. But be careful not to cheat the reader. Don't suddenly introduce additional appendages or a 10 foot scythe that we would have noticed before.


        • #5
          I seem to recall the description of ALIEN was about 4 words in the screenplay.


          • #6
            From ALIEN:

            A red stain.

            Then a smear of blood blossoms on his chest.

            The fabric of his shirt is ripped apart.

            A small head the size of a man's fist pushes out.

            The crew shouts in panic.

            Leap back from the table.

            The cat spits, bolts away.

            The tiny head lunges forward.

            Comes spurting out of Kane's chest trailing a thick body.

            Splatters fluids and blood in its wake.

            Lands in the middle of the dishes and food.

            Wriggles away while the crew scatters.

            Then the Alien being disappears from sight.
            Lean, yeah. All we have is a fist-sized head trailing a thick body. But it sure does the trick.


            • #7
              Good points and suggestions by all. My sincere thanks....

              The only reason I asked for some opinions on the matter is that while developing a sci-fi project with a production company a few months back, the exec I was dealing with made me turn my one-sentence blurb of the creature-in-question into a 3/4 page, insanely-detailed description!



              • #8
                A TURD DEMON, a festering repulsive blob with eyes.
                I spotted one of those last week and that just happened to be exactly how it looked...Amazing.


                • #9
                  In my script, I tried to be as nondescript about the alien as I could without giving up body parts that it needed -- cause who knows what the CGI and Puppet guys are going to come up with?