Advice from Chuck Palahniuk - show, don't tell

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  • #31
    Re: Advice from Chuck Palahniuk - show, don't tell

    When in doubt, use this:

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    • #32
      Re: Advice from Chuck Palahniuk - show, don't tell

      Originally posted by wrytnow View Post
      A movie is not what we write. It's a vision not ours, but a director's. It's characters not ours, but an actor's. Set designs and music and light. And a story that can be changed at any time. A film is a sketch from a writer that other artists color in.
      I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. A script isn't just a sketch to me. It's also the writers vision, filled with characters that they've 'colored in.'

      Do you feel it's any less legitimate than a director or actors interpretation?

      I may have misunderstood, but the statement seems to imply a hierarchy, with the writer at the bottom.

      That's debatable, but certainly far from an absolute.

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      • #33
        Re: Advice from Chuck Palahniuk - show, don't tell

        Originally posted by IGetsBuckets View Post
        I wouldn't say "don't write" those words ever. It's personal preference. Whatever's best for the story. The read. The moment.

        For example:

        Johnson sprints down the street. Turns the corner. And sees--

        --TWO GUNMEN, 20 feet away. GUNS up.

        Johnson dives behind a parked car.

        To me the above just reads better as "dives behind a parked car" instead of "dives behind a parked '94 VOLVO."

        It's a personal preference. Style. Voice. Whatever you want to call it.

        "Precise, not vague" is great advice. But that doesn't mean "don't write" certain words ever. Sometimes it's better for your story and better for the read to write "car, tree, dog" etc. instead of "94 volvo, oaktree, bulldog."
        i agree. but as any advice and rules, they are only recommendations. i find that being precise is in most cases best. in screenplays it's a bit different, it depends on the importance of the subject in question.

        in prose especially, writing precise instead of vague, really gives life to the writing. in many ways it brings out the writer's voice. being precise is being unique.

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        • #34
          Re: Advice from Chuck Palahniuk - show, don't tell

          Originally posted by Anagram View Post
          I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. A script isn't just a sketch to me. It's also the writers vision, filled with characters that they've 'colored in.'

          Do you feel it's any less legitimate than a director or actors interpretation?

          I may have misunderstood, but the statement seems to imply a hierarchy, with the writer at the bottom.

          That's debatable, but certainly far from an absolute.
          I can't recall which screenwriter said the writer isn't at the bottom of the totem pole, he's the part that's buried in the ground that holds up the rest.

          It's also the writers vision, filled with characters that they've 'colored in.'
          Yes, we have a vision. We know our characters intimately. We could easily write a novel, and if we want our visions and characters intact that's what we need to do. We can be Rowling or maybe King. Or someone.

          We reveal character through actions and sketch them briefly with words, but the reader colors them in. The person the reader sees is going to be what the reader brings to that, not what's in our minds.

          Everyone who reads the script, which is every principal player in making the movie, have their own vision and each express that vision. And everyone in the audience brings their own interpretation to what they experience. Cinema is synergistic.

          The most important part of the totem pole is the part buried in the ground. If it's well-made it supports an amazing creation. If it isn't, all that beautiful carving ends up scattered and broken. A great screenplay is invisible in the film. And whatever it is in our minds, no matter how fully-realized, the screenplay is like a sketch others fill in. (Unless they just erase whole sections and re-draw those parts.)

          It's a good thing.
          wry

          The rule is the first fifteen pages should enthrall me, but truth is, I'm only giving you about 3-5 pages. ~ Hollywood Script Reader

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          • #35
            Re: Advice from Chuck Palahniuk - show, don't tell

            Originally posted by SCRIPTMONK!!! View Post
            This is several months old, but it's so good it should be posted for those who have not yet found it.
            -- In my opinion, I didn't think the advice was all that where the link had to be rushed out to the screenwriting community.

            He went on a lot just to get out his point of: "No more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound and feeling."

            He gave a couple of examples, one being: "Adam knew Gwen liked him."

            He says, don't tell us that Adam knew. Show us with those sensory details. Nothing wrong with this advice, but what I don't like is that he made it an absolute. You MUST NOT use "he thinks." Like it would be deemed bad or weak writing.

            Sometimes these things have a place in the storytelling.

            Here's a link to a past discussion on "He thinks to himself":

            http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=70410

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