FDX Reports

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  • FDX Reports

    Hello all:
    I've worked with scene reports in the past. Today I started using the Character Report function. I selected it to include dialogue and scenes for specific characters.

    I'm using it to determine where I might be able to compress my structure for improved pacing. It has another use that you might find interesting; using it as a tool to punch up a character's dialogue based on their specific traits and attitudes. You can focus on that one specific character.

    A cool report for sure.

    The Summary details the number of times a character speaks, how many times they appear as a non-speaking character, and to whom the character most interacts (tip, should be your main character in all cases, me thinks )

    Having the page numbers included are especially nice when looking at gaps in the time a character is seen and then returns. E.G. we see a character last on page 25 then not again until 48, that could trigger you to reconsider your structure for that character. It might be fine, but gaps like that can result in a sluggish pace or even arresting the plot.

    Anyway, I like to share useful tips.

    The Cast Report details the following for every character in columns...

    Total Dialogues, Speaking Scenes, Non-Sp. Scenes, Total Scenes. This report can really help a writer who might have a story problem where characters fight for prominence. E.G. a secondary character has more lines than your Hero (general use: anti-hero, protagonist, main character, hero).

    The Scene Report (remember to number the scenes first) is a great tool for examining structure and pace. Across the top it details: Scene #, Scene Heading, Page #, page length.

    Under the scene header it lists the characters and the number of time they speak. This can be helpful when determining dialogue balance and which scenes to consider reducing or deleting altogether.

    When I'm rewriting I work in "revision mode" so changes are highlighted and notes can be added, but ONLY after I've numbered the scenes. Numbering the scenes make it easier to locate changes as notes and revisions will move page numbers around in quick order. This can be really frustrating, especially if you are writing with a partner, or when one person is looking at an older draft and you are looking at a revised draft.

    Do you have any tips that help you?
    "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

  • #2
    Re: FDX Reports

    I assume you mean final draft tips, but this just came to me...

    Often I find that when I keep having trouble rewriting a scene or a line of dialogue, it's the movie telling me CUT THIS SCENE OR JOKE.

    I did start using scene report in final draft to see where my longer scenes where and to find out where things were landing.

    So I had a midpoint in mind in my script and I noticed it was landing on page 65 in my first draft, but I wanted it closer to 45-50 and it was helpful to circle the scenes I needed and didn't need need and go from there.

    I like to duplicate my screenplay .fdx file a lot and just take crap out and see if it reads better and things are discovered. It's amazing what you thought you needed, you don't. How 10 pages can be one line of dialogue. So a tip to me is to KNOW you can always go back to the last draft.

    So what I did in my case, was cut out 20 pages, get my MP on page 45 and then I saw how that read and played out. And I slowly brought back the 20 pages i cut out (not all) in different parts and yada yada.

    I think final draft also have a NOTECARD feature, so I've used that -- and I know some people love to move NOTECARDS around on a board but I was never good at that. I can move stuff around, but it's in my head and I just sort of get in a zone and figure it out.

    So my overall TIP is to use what works for you. We are all doing similar things in vastly different ways and we all look for absolutes when the only way to know if it worked is to read the spec and see.

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    • #3
      Re: FDX Reports

      Yes, apologies. I do mean Final Draft tips.

      I use the Scene Report the same way you do. It helps me gauge/improve pacing. For example, you might not want to have two 5 page scenes back to back. I also helps me target scenes that may need to be tighter. You know, in late, out early.

      I use the Scene Report to breakdown and check my ACTS to make sure I'm not indulging in extraneous scenes and story beats.

      The Notecard function is something I tried a while back, but it didn't work for me, because I couldn't see all the cards at once, which for me, is somehow important. I have used this function to move scenes around.

      I did look at the STC software before buying Scrivner. The STC software has a cool looking cork board.

      I might try using a white board. I saw Shonda Rhimes use it to break down episodes. I think Sorkin did as well. It looks like a great way to breakdown a pilot or episode.
      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: FDX Reports

        Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
        The Cast Report details the following for every character in columns...

        Total Dialogues, Speaking Scenes, Non-Sp. Scenes, Total Scenes. This report can really help a writer who might have a story problem where characters fight for prominence. E.G. a secondary character has more lines than your Hero (general use: anti-hero, protagonist, main character, hero).
        Surely that's not always a problem? In Terminator 2 [1992], cocky little blabbermouth John Connor must have miles more lines than The Terminator? (Not the best example.)
        Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
        "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: FDX Reports

          Originally posted by Crayon View Post
          Surely that's not always a problem? In Terminator 2 [1992], cocky little blabbermouth John Connor must have miles more lines than The Terminator? (Not the best example.)
          John Connor is the protagonist in Terminator 2. He should have the most lines. It's his story. Arnold and Sarah are his allies. There to protect John and keep him alive. He controls the Terminator and he controls his mother. He drives the story

          # of time character speaks
          John Conner 134
          Sarah Conner 97
          Terminator 101

          It's good exercise so a writer understands that his intentions have been met. If you have dual protagonists they would have close to the same lines. At least, idealy. The only other character that could have more lines is the antagonist, but it would have to be close, I think, otherwise you run the risk of the antagonist taking over your story. Sometimes as writers we give great lines to secondary characters. It's an easy report to run and can show if you have a character in act one and then not in act two, and another character in act that maybe they can/should be combined.

          One additional thing to consider with T2 is that is has "Star" roles, an ensemble.
          Last edited by finalact4; 08-24-2020, 05:35 AM.
          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: FDX Reports

            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
            John Connor is the protagonist in Terminator 2. He should have the most lines. It's his story. Arnold and Sarah are his allies. There to protect John and keep him alive. He controls the Terminator and he controls his mother. He drives the story

            # of time character speaks
            John Conner 134
            Sarah Conner 97
            Terminator 101

            It's good exercise so a writer understands that his intentions have been met. If you have dual protagonists they would have close to the same lines. At least, idealy. The only other character that could have more lines is the antagonist, but it would have to be close, I think, otherwise you run the risk of the antagonist taking over your story. Sometimes as writers we give great lines to secondary characters. It's an easy report to run and can show if you have a character in act one and then not in act two, and another character in act that maybe they can/should be combined.

            One additional thing to consider with T2 is that is has "Star" roles, an ensemble.
            Yes, I may have been slowly realising that John Connor is the protagonist, which was why I added "Not the best example". But it's hard to see him as the "hero" - he's more like the hero's (Arnie's) goal and/or stakes. Perhaps he's even a bit of a MacGuffin?

            Anyhow, I'm wondering if there are any good movies which have a laconic protagonist and a gobby other character who has more dialogue.

            "Terminator 101" - Now that's an idea for prequel - Young Terminator: The College Years / The Programming Years.

            Apparently robo-Arnie has a model number: "The Terminator, also known as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 or the T-800, ..."
            Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
            "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

            Comment

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