How to deal with multiple "goons"?

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  • How to deal with multiple "goons"?

    I'm working on a script where my protag is being chased by an organized crime syndicate. Along the way he encounters a number of men I'm currently just describing as "Goons." Sometimes it's just a guy watching a door, sometimes it's a guy with a rifle, or a battering ram. There's a bunch of them and most have no lines.

    I don't know how to refer to them on the page. I can't write GOON 1, GOON 2 and GOON 13 all over the place. It just feels/reads stupid.

    I'm drawing a blank on scripts I might refer to in order to see how others have dealt with it.

    Anyone have advice on how to describe them, or at least on what scripts to track down for reference?

    -Thanks

  • #2
    Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

    Originally posted by OtisLovesUs View Post
    I'm working on a script where my protag is being chased by an organized crime syndicate. Along the way he encounters a number of men I'm currently just describing as "Goons." Sometimes it's just a guy watching a door, sometimes it's a guy with a rifle, or a battering ram. There's a bunch of them and most have no lines.

    I don't know how to refer to them on the page. I can't write GOON 1, GOON 2 and GOON 13 all over the place. It just feels/reads stupid.

    I'm drawing a blank on scripts I might refer to in order to see how others have dealt with it.

    Anyone have advice on how to describe them, or at least on what scripts to track down for reference?

    -Thanks
    You usually try to differentiate characters like these -- minor players who have no lines but pretty much have to be there -- by what they are doing.

    You yourself have indicated as much above. TWO GUARDS, A GUY WITH A RIFLE, TWO BIG GUYS CARRYING A BATTERING RAM.

    And a word or two of description. TWO HALF-ASLEEP GUARDS, or whatever, goes a long way to making things interesting -- to making it more than "THUG 17."

    NMS

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    • #3
      Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

      Okay, I agree in theory. But I've had trouble feeling comfortable introducing secondary/tertiary characters like: A CHINESE GOON HOLDING A BATTERING RAM puts his ear to the door.

      Those long "names" feel ridiculous to me.

      Then, later, on the next page, when he actually breaks down the door, I also have trouble with descriptions like: The Chinese Goon Holding the Battering Ram smashes the door into splinters...

      Also, every one of these goons is Chinese. I've already established early on that it's an expanding criminal group that is just setting up shop in town (East coast, USA), but HQ'd in China. Do I need to bother after that point with specifying that the newly introduced "GOON ON THE ROOFTOP" on page 96 is Chinese, or will my spec-reading audience assume it? And, for that matter, would the repeated term "goon" become tiring to you? Should it just be "man" or "guy" from start to finish, even though "goon" feels more apt to me, in general?

      Honestly, it all seems very tiring to me. This is a fast-paced gritty crime flick. I want this thing to read like lightning, but describing these effing goons alone seems to bog the read down.

      Thanks, NMS.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

        Why don't you just ask Christopher Nolan? I'm not even kidding.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

          Sometimes I've seen instances where writers just arbitrarily assign names to have something to call them, like "Three goons -- MO, LARRY, and CURLY -- pursue him down the alley," or "a hulking goon we'll call TINY appears, blocking his exit," and so forth.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

            I've also seen people do a brief description - FAT GOON, TALL GOON, BEARDED GOON, etc. Or identify them by their weapons, so there's a SWORD GOON, GUN GOON, and NINJA GOON. Something like that.

            Edit: Is the word "goon" starting to look really weird to anybody else?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

              Originally posted by omjs View Post
              I've also seen people do a brief description - FAT GOON, TALL GOON, BEARDED GOON, etc.
              +1

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                I like to give them a personality descriptor which can be played by the actor (often even if there is no dialogue).

                Bill
                Free Script Tips:
                http://www.scriptsecrets.net

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                  Originally posted by carcar View Post
                  Why don't you just ask Christopher Nolan? I'm not even kidding.
                  Dark Knight. Of course. Right in front of my face. Thanks, carcar.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                    Okay, lot's of good advice. What do people think about the Chinese question though? Do I need to have "CHINESE" in each of their descriptive GOON names?

                    Thanks, folks.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                      Just make sure you call one of them Luca -

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_19mxj2LME

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                        If you are saying they are all CHINESE GOONS, you can say that when you first introduce them as a group. Then, the next time you single one out, you can call him SKINNY GOON or whatever without adding "Chinese."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                          Originally posted by OtisLovesUs View Post
                          Okay, lot's of good advice. What do people think about the Chinese question though? Do I need to have "CHINESE" in each of their descriptive GOON names?

                          Thanks, folks.
                          If there are lots of them, and if for most of them we don't need to keep them straight - like, we don't need to recall that the Goon on page 3 with a hammer is the same Goon on page 19 who's holding a gun - then why differentiate any of those at all? IOW, maybe just "One of the Goons grabs a hammer, beats JOE." Then later, "One Goon brandishes a gun."

                          As for "Chinese" - are they goons for a Chinese character? And is every "Goon" Chinese? If so, once you've establish that, I wouldn't see a need to remind the reader that each GOON is Chinese.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                            Originally posted by muckraker View Post
                            Sometimes I've seen instances where writers just arbitrarily assign names to have something to call them, like "Three goons -- MO, LARRY, and CURLY -- pursue him down the alley," or "a hulking goon we'll call TINY appears, blocking his exit," and so forth.
                            My favourite example of this is in KICK ASS:

                            Several other goons surround him - let's call them GINGER,
                            SCARY, SPORTY, BABY and POSH.
                            My stuff

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: How to deal with multiple "goons"?

                              Originally posted by OtisLovesUs View Post
                              Okay, I agree in theory. But I've had trouble feeling comfortable introducing secondary/tertiary characters like: A CHINESE GOON HOLDING A BATTERING RAM puts his ear to the door.

                              Those long "names" feel ridiculous to me.

                              Then, later, on the next page, when he actually breaks down the door, I also have trouble with descriptions like: The Chinese Goon Holding the Battering Ram smashes the door into splinters...

                              Also, every one of these goons is Chinese. I've already established early on that it's an expanding criminal group that is just setting up shop in town (East coast, USA), but HQ'd in China. Do I need to bother after that point with specifying that the newly introduced "GOON ON THE ROOFTOP" on page 96 is Chinese, or will my spec-reading audience assume it? And, for that matter, would the repeated term "goon" become tiring to you? Should it just be "man" or "guy" from start to finish, even though "goon" feels more apt to me, in general?

                              Honestly, it all seems very tiring to me. This is a fast-paced gritty crime flick. I want this thing to read like lightning, but describing these effing goons alone seems to bog the read down.

                              Thanks, NMS.
                              If they're all of the same ethnic group, then there's no reason to keep describing that way. You may describe them way to begin with but after that, why bother?

                              The point is, you want to find some way to differentiate characters that are one-offs -- if all a character is going to do is ram through a door, then that's what differentiates him.

                              If a non-speaking character is going to be appearing in a lot of scenes and just happens to ram through a door in one, then that wouldn't be the way to describe him -- but if he's a really big guy, then BIG THUG, might be a good way to describe him.

                              I tend to avoid giving proper names to minor characters because then you have a situation where proper names tend to proliferate throughout the script and you run the risk of your important character's names getting lost in the midst of all of those other proper names that you're using to describe those minor characters.

                              You want a couple words, three tops, that pick out distinctive characteristics.

                              Tall, short, angry, limping, scarred, one-eyed, fat, skinny, bald-headed, over-muscled, bull-necked -- things like that.

                              So you get to write things like: The Bull-necked Thug muscles his way in through the busted-open door only to be met by a barrage of gun fire. He ignores the numerous bullet hits and keeps on coming, a dumb grin on his dying face.

                              NMS

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