Scene with no dialogue

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  • Scene with no dialogue

    Hi Guys,

    I was wondering if you could help. I have been reading Story Maps to help my formatting and have a question regarding action scenes. I have a few scenes which are basically a character performing a list of actions that are all important to the story. I read that descriptions should not be longer than four lines. I have been using Writerduet and the action tab is the description one aswell. How can I make it four lines if that doesn't include all the info?

    Shall I simply make it a new paragraph after every four lines or so? Or is there a completely different way a professional would lay out a scene like this?

    Any help is gratefully received.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Scene with no dialogue

    Hard to tell. Why not post the scene under Script Pages Feedback here on DDPro. Otherwise, any advice may be mostly shooting in the dark.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Scene with no dialogue

      Originally posted by Jab2019 View Post
      Shall I simply make it a new paragraph after every four lines or so? Or is there a completely different way a professional would lay out a scene like this?
      Yep. Find a natural break for these paragraphs where you want your reader to focus on something new and begin a new paragraph. And don't make every paragraph exactly four lines. A paragraph can be one sentence, even one word.

      You also might want to consider breaking this up a bit. A step, by step, by step sequence can veer towards boring really easily.

      EDIT: As catcon says, it might help if you would post something like what you're writing on the feedback forum. That would allow more accurate comments.
      STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Scene with no dialogue

        Hi Guys,

        Please see below what I have written and maybe this will help with my answer. It doesn't read entirely exciting as I constantly have to use the word 'box'. All the items have a reason for being put into the box also.

        So, any advice is gratefully received.

        Thanks

        J

        Int.house-DAY

        Ashlynn walks into the study with a large box. The study is near empty but for a few remaining items.

        She opens a draw and gently removes some military medals. She carefully puts them in the box.

        From the wardrobe she takes out a military peaked cap, gives it a gentle wipe and places it in the box.

        She takes a hunting knife from a locked cabinet and adds it to the box.

        She reaches for the picture of Bill and Robbie from the fishing trip. It has been re framed. She wraps it in newspaper and lays it in the box.

        She closes the box and writes Bill on the front.

        She reaches into the wardrobe and removes an American flag. She neatly folds it and drapes it on top of the box.

        She carries the box downstairs and places it in the garage as Robbie arrives home.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Scene with no dialogue

          Also it isn't broken up line by line as it appears above. I'm guessing that is just forum formatting.

          Thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Scene with no dialogue

            It's important for us to see how it looks, and your posting it here with copy'n paste doesn't do it. The top 'sticky' post (How To Post - 07 April 2013) under the forum I mentioned above describes how to post stuff here that looks exactly like it does in the PDF. I think the line-by-line appearance you're describing is important for us to evaluate.

            Follow the steps in that post, download the free 'Some PDF to Txt Converter' as it suggests, and you'll be able to convert any PDF to a text format document that includes the formatting, like this:

            Sample only: (see how it looks better?)
            Code:
                            MISTER BUTTLE'S GREAT ODYSSEY
            
            
            FADE IN:
            
            EXT. CITY/CHICAGO - DAY (1933)
            
            The city's limestone towers hover high above the scurrying
            pedestrians and road traffic that fill the streets below.
            
            SUPERIMPOSE:   "Chicago, Illinois, 1933"
            
            We descend into the avenues between the monolithic insurance
            companies, department stores and banks, where billboards of
            Gable, Lamarr and Powell overlook the chaos at street level.
            
            We're into the action, now: Commuters fill a train station,
            cops interrogate a beggar, pedestrians halt as a fire engine
            warbles - and resume lingering, yakking and jaywalking after
            it passes. There's a post office, a music hall and a hotel.
            
            The Great Depression is in full swing, but so is adaptation,
            and regular people seem to be coping here in the Windy City.
            
            EXT. SIDEWALK/OFFICE TOWER EXIT (SAME TIME)
            
            ROY SAUNDERS, 30, departs a colossal building at street
            level, and we follow him. He's an attorney on-the-rise, who
            handles estates for one of the large established firms.
            
            A handsome fellow, Roy has a pencil-thin moustache, is in a
            suit and fedora, with a trench coat over an arm. He strides
            tall past shoppers, delivery men, and patrons at a bus stop.
            
            Up ahead, people surround a newspaper stand where a radio
            plays a muffled newscast. Roy tries to squeeze in to hear
            better but he can't, so he checks the headlines on a stack.
            
            We catch a few, as he gives us an account of things:
            
                                ROY (V.O.)
                      Spring, 1933: The U.S. has just
                      voted out Prohibition. "King Kong"
                      is still playing in the theaters.
            
            INSERT - HEADLINE OF "PROHIBITION ENDS"
            
                                ROY (V.O. CONT'D)
                      That nut in Germany brought in his
                      Enabling Act to make himself
                      dictator. And some British guys
                      flew a plane over Mount Everest.
                                                                      2.
            
            INSERT - HEADLINE OF "UNEMPLOYED CITIZENS MARCH"
            
                                ROY (V.O. CONT'D)
                      The Yankees were in Spring training
                      and hoped to repeat as champs, but
                      our Cubs probably won't be in the
                      running this year.
            
            INSERT - HEADLINE OF "ROOSEVELT CHATS UP RECOVERY"
            
                                ROY (V.O. CONT'D)
                      At least we have a World's Fair
                      opening next month. Maybe it's a
                      sign the Depression is easing up.
            
            ANGLE ON Roy, with a newspaper in-hand. He tosses a coin to
            the proprietor, gazes left and right, and inhales deeply.
            
                                ROY (V.O. CONT'D)
                      Here in Chicago, it feels great to
                      hit 50 degrees.
                           (then)
                      Spring. 1933. And Sam Buttle is
                      about to begin his great odyssey.
            
            Roy whistles down a taxi and climbs partway in, but holds up
            when his eyes meet those of a PANHANDLER, 45, trying to
            strap a large trunk onto his back for a journey somewhere.
            
            The man gives up, and the heavy box slams to the sidewalk.
            
            Unexpectedly, he just shakes his head and laughs, and sends
            Roy a wave. Roy flips him a dime, and drops into the cab.
            
                                PANHANDLER
                      Thanks, Mac!
            
            INT. TAXI (TRAVELLING)
            
            Roy doffs his fedora and settles into the back seat.   We see
            that his trim, dark hair is parted to one side.
            
                                ROY
                      What do you think, driver: Does
                      the end of Prohibition mean the end
                      of the Depression?
            
            As he pulls out, the driver merely shrugs at Roy's enquiry.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Scene with no dialogue

              Code:
              INT.HOUSE-DAY
              
              Ashlynn walks into the study with a large box. The study is
              near empty but for a few remaining items.
              
              She opens a draw and gently removes some military medals. She
              carefully puts them in the box. From the wardrobe she takes
              out a military peaked cap, gives it a gentle wipe and places
              it in the box.
              
              She takes a hunting knife from a locked cabinet and adds it
              to the box.
              
              She reaches for the picture of Bill and Robbie from the
              fishing trip. It has been re framed. She wraps it in
              newspaper and lays it in the box.
              
              She closes the box and writes Bill on the front. She reaches
              into the wardrobe and removes an American flag. She neatly
              folds it and drapes it on top of the box.
              
              She locks the door to the study, carries the box downstairs
              and places it in the garage as Robbie arrives home.
              
                               ASHLYNN
                      How was your day?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Scene with no dialogue

                Hi,

                I managed to do it above. Thanks for the technical help. It is certainly not my forte but was easy with Writerduet.

                Thanks

                J

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Scene with no dialogue

                  ... "She opens a drawER..."

                  Well, I'd not toss the script as written, but I'll let others chime in.

                  However, you move to a new location(s) in the final paragraph of description, so you need new sluglines, eh?

                  With that in mind, the first scene heading you have should be something akin to:

                  INT. HOUSE/STUDY - etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Scene with no dialogue

                    Thanks. I will adjust my slug lines to make more sense in that way. I am not sure what the highlight is with DrawER? I am English but am trying to write an American-English script. So, do you guys spell Drawer, draw?

                    Thanks

                    J

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Scene with no dialogue

                      We say drawer. Also, I may be the only one, but I got tired of hearing "in the box" so many times in a row. I'd look for some different ways of expressing what she is doing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Scene with no dialogue

                        > Draw/Draw"er"

                        I took it as a typo that the spellchecker missed.

                        The last thing you want to do is make people hesitate during the reading process. At the same time, you don't want to insult their intelligence. It can be a tricky balance.

                        Just this morning, I edited an old script to address a doubt I've long had about something. I added a link to an image for my story set on a ship, in which I use the naval orientation port/starboard/aft/etc.

                        My use of the terms certainly wasn't an attempt to appear pedantic, but to come across as realistic. However, some readers may not have a clue.

                        Anyway, I just added a brief description and link (which they can click, or not) right in the PDF:

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aft_(PSF).jpg

                        (When I do this, I use Wiki images and links because I figure it's one of the few links anybody'd trust clicking. And I'd include the full image right on the PDF, except in this case that would have changed page/script length etc.)

                        So, I hope this isn't too off topic. It's all about making things clear. We're not typing academic prose, here. It's just an easy-to-read screenplay that's hopefully exciting, hilarious, scary, amorous, etc.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Scene with no dialogue

                          Originally posted by Centos View Post
                          Yep. Find a natural break for these paragraphs where you want your reader to focus on something new and begin a new paragraph. And don't make every paragraph exactly four lines. A paragraph can be one sentence, even one word.

                          You also might want to consider breaking this up a bit. A step, by step, by step sequence can veer towards boring really easily.

                          EDIT: As catcon says, it might help if you would post something like what you're writing on the feedback forum. That would allow more accurate comments.
                          this^^ is good advice.

                          i primarily focus on 1, 2, and 3 lines. rarely do i go to 4 lines and never more. i break them up by changing POVs, new shots, or reversing action from one character to another-- just to name a few.

                          the pace will determine what kind of sentence length that'll best exploit suspense and tension. sometime you need to let a moment breathe and other times it's short, tight, and furious.

                          iow, match your sentence structure with the pace you're going for. that's not to mean "increase word count" though sometimes it can. efficient. economic. concise. those are the goals.
                          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Scene with no dialogue

                            Originally posted by Jab2019 View Post
                            I managed to do it above. Thanks for the technical help. It is certainly not my forte but was easy with Writerduet.
                            I've heard good things about WriterDuet.

                            Personal taste, but I think it reads a little too much like a list. A lot of sentences start with "she." I would try breaking it up a bit, show a little movement ... maybe something like this ... (very rough) ...

                            Code:
                                INT. STUDY — DAY
                                
                                Ashlynn enters the nearly empty room, carrying a large box.
                                
                                She opens a desk drawer, removes some military medals then
                                carefully lays them inside the box.
                                
                                Moving to the wardrobe she picks out a military peaked cap,
                                gives it a gentle wipe then places it on top of the medals.
                                
                                She unlocks the cabinet she takes out a hunting knife, adds it
                                to the contents — then reaches for a re-framed picture of Bill 
                                and Robbie from the fishing trip. She puts the picture in the 
                                box after wrapping it in newspaper.
                                
                                Closing the box, she writes "Bill" on the front. Then she gets
                                an American flag from the wardrobe, neatly folds it and drapes
                                it over the box.
                                
                                She locks the door as she leaves.
                                
                                INT. GARAGE — DAY
                                
                                Ashlynn is setting the box on a shelf when Robbie enters.
                            Last edited by Centos; 06-24-2019, 09:42 AM.
                            STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Scene with no dialogue

                              Thanks for your help guys. It was all helpful information. I definitely agree about it looking too much like a list and over using the word 'box'. I was trying to make it very clear why was happening whilst also being concise. I really appreciate the re written suggestion as it gives me scope to make it more interesting.

                              I'm glad to have found this forum as I was just following some rules I had read but very much following them literally and to the point.

                              Once again,

                              Thanks

                              J

                              Comment

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