A Question About Action

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  • A Question About Action

    Hi everyone,

    I'm writing a script that's different than anything that I've done before. It's a mix between an independent city-based romance and a supernatural piece. The closest things that I can think of are The Lobster and Let The Right One In, if that helps.

    There are long sequences with no dialogue that occasionally go on for about a page and I know that this goes against standard rules, but is this OK once in a while? I'm breaking the action up into paragraphs of no more than five lines to keep them digestible. Every so often, a short line of dialogue will break them up.

    Also, does anyone have any examples of scripts that do this? I'm looking for action scripts in particular, since most of these instances take place during those sorts of sequences, but anything is fine. Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: A Question About Action

    as long as there is genuine dramatic tension in the scene (conflict) it could be all dialogue

    http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/glengarry.html

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    • #3
      Re: A Question About Action

      Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
      as long as there is genuine dramatic tension in the scene (conflict) it could be all dialogue

      http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/glengarry.html
      What about the other way? I'm referring to the use of mostly or entirely action with little or no dialogue? Thanks!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: A Question About Action

        Originally posted by KitesAreFun View Post
        Hi everyone,

        I'm writing a script that's different than anything that I've done before. It's a mix between an independent city-based romance and a supernatural piece. The closest things that I can think of are The Lobster and Let The Right One In, if that helps.

        There are long sequences with no dialogue that occasionally go on for about a page and I know that this goes against standard rules, but is this OK once in a while? I'm breaking the action up into paragraphs of no more than five lines to keep them digestible. Every so often, a short line of dialogue will break them up.

        Also, does anyone have any examples of scripts that do this? I'm looking for action scripts in particular, since most of these instances take place during those sorts of sequences, but anything is fine. Thanks!
        "Paperman", a Disney short won an Academy Award, without any dialogue. It's animated, but it might give you some ideas on what can be done.

        http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xzt3vb
        "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: A Question About Action

          Originally posted by StoryWriter View Post
          "Paperman", a Disney short won an Academy Award, without any dialogue. It's animated, but it might give you some ideas on what can be done.

          http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xzt3vb
          I remember watching that. It's a fantastic movie. I appreciate the suggestion. The only issue is that the script doesn't appear to be online anywhere.

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          • #6
            Re: A Question About Action

            Look at the script for WALL-E. They do short sentences, each on its own line, and it helps keep the action moving during no-dialogue scenes. ALIEN is formatted similarly. You might also look at the script for ALL IS LOST, which contains very little dialogue throughout.

            I'd advise that if you have a lot of action, do a lot of line breaks. Five lines per paragraph is way too much if it's going on for a long time, IMO. You want more like 1-2 line per paragraph, the shorter the better. It visually breaks things up in a way that's similar to dialogue, so it's easier to feel the rhythm of what you're doing and digest it as individual beats and images.

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            • #7
              Re: A Question About Action

              The way I look at this is that doing something different is never why something is ill received. It's just that your something different didn't capture the reader's attention. Your whole goal of doing something different is to capture the reader's attention, which of course we all know is not very easy to do in the first place.

              What if you look at scripts and you don't see anything like it? Would you not want to do it? What if you see it all over the place in scripts? What you feel comfortable in doing it?

              If you are writing something, your entire goal is to entertain the 'audience' of a given genre. The hard part is that the audience is not stupid, they probably can't name the beats or know what a beat is, but they can sit down and talk about the flow of sci-fi or horror or comedy. The gatekeepers know the audience needs something smart, something that plays with the anticipation of what the audience knows.

              I can't name specific scripts, but in my journey of reading scripts and parts of scripts, I have seen scenes that are either all or mostly all dialogue or all action.

              The people in this industry that we so desperately want to read our material is very familiar with stories and how they work, and the instincts to know when a story is working and when it is not, they can spot solid writing because even with everything they know about the genre the writer can still suck them into a story and keep them on their toes.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: A Question About Action

                Originally posted by omjs View Post
                Look at the script for WALL-E. They do short sentences, each on its own line, and it helps keep the action moving during no-dialogue scenes. ALIEN is formatted similarly. You might also look at the script for ALL IS LOST, which contains very little dialogue throughout.

                I'd advise that if you have a lot of action, do a lot of line breaks. Five lines per paragraph is way too much if it's going on for a long time, IMO. You want more like 1-2 line per paragraph, the shorter the better. It visually breaks things up in a way that's similar to dialogue, so it's easier to feel the rhythm of what you're doing and digest it as individual beats and images.
                This is really helpful. I have the script for WALL-E and am going to make it my next read. Thanks!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: A Question About Action

                  Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
                  The way I look at this is that doing something different is never why something is ill received. It's just that your something different didn't capture the reader's attention. Your whole goal of doing something different is to capture the reader's attention, which of course we all know is not very easy to do in the first place.

                  What if you look at scripts and you don't see anything like it? Would you not want to do it? What if you see it all over the place in scripts? What you feel comfortable in doing it?

                  If you are writing something, your entire goal is to entertain the 'audience' of a given genre. The hard part is that the audience is not stupid, they probably can't name the beats or know what a beat is, but they can sit down and talk about the flow of sci-fi or horror or comedy. The gatekeepers know the audience needs something smart, something that plays with the anticipation of what the audience knows.

                  I can't name specific scripts, but in my journey of reading scripts and parts of scripts, I have seen scenes that are either all or mostly all dialogue or all action.

                  The people in this industry that we so desperately want to read our material is very familiar with stories and how they work, and the instincts to know when a story is working and when it is not, they can spot solid writing because even with everything they know about the genre the writer can still suck them into a story and keep them on their toes.
                  I've already done it and am committed to it, but am trying to figure out the best way to make it effective. Since there are a lot of sequences with lots of action, I don't want to turn people away with paragraphs that are too long. Thanks for your response.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: A Question About Action

                    Originally posted by KitesAreFun View Post
                    Hi everyone,

                    I'm writing a script that's different than anything that I've done before. It's a mix between an independent city-based romance and a supernatural piece. The closest things that I can think of are The Lobster and Let The Right One In, if that helps.

                    There are long sequences with no dialogue that occasionally go on for about a page and I know that this goes against standard rules, but is this OK once in a while? I'm breaking the action up into paragraphs of no more than five lines to keep them digestible. Every so often, a short line of dialogue will break them up.

                    Also, does anyone have any examples of scripts that do this? I'm looking for action scripts in particular, since most of these instances take place during those sorts of sequences, but anything is fine. Thanks!
                    If you can keep it visually interesting on the page, you should be fine. Case in point:

                    INT. WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

                    JOHN VVICK, hair down to his jaw, rifle-scope eyes and Buddhist calm. Ready to bare-knuckle it with VVIGGO, an armed thug on fire.

                    But John is smoke without the fire, faster in every way and knows it. It's about to get real.

                    They fight. A cheetah watches in the b.g.

                    It's finished. Did you miss it? Yeah, I bet you did. So did the cheetah. That's how fast it was.
                    Last edited by nguyensquared; 02-24-2018, 11:22 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: A Question About Action

                      Originally posted by KitesAreFun View Post
                      What about the other way? I'm referring to the use of mostly or entirely action with little or no dialogue? Thanks!
                      Don't know if the script is available (or if a translation is) but you can check out the heist scene in Rififi -- it goes on for something like twenty minutes with no dialogue at all.

                      Same deal with A Man Escapes -- long sequences with no dialogue.

                      NMS

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