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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog

(OR EL DUDERINO IF YOU'RE NOT INTO THE WHOLE BREVITY THING)

-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Trust the Reader (and yourself)

And now, from the bad writing files, the following paraphrase (to protect the guilty) from a script I read last night:


  • BENNY
  • Often times, people can be just like those field mice -- while everything exciting is buzzing around them, they scamper off and hide in their holes, missing out on all the fun because they are too scared.
  • He's obviously talking about himself.


Okay, people. It is bad enough when your dialogue almost entirely lacks any subtext. But when you finally put the tiniest drop of it in there, please don't destroy that miniscule bit of positivity by spelling out for the reader that you put it there!

This script contained action statements similar to that last line on at least (no exaggeration) 15-20 different lines. And to have it on even one line would have been inexcusable!

Trust the reader. Trust the actor and the director. Trust your own writing to make the point! You don't need to put directions in there to say, "Hey idiot! Make sure you understand what I'm really saying here! There is more going on that is written on the page!"

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13 Comments:

Blogger Enzio Pesta said...

Fun, that script excerpt is priceless. With your permission, I must use it on my spanking new blog.

5:08 AM  
Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

There's spanking on your blog?

6:28 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Ah, leave it to MaryAn. Thanks hon! ;-)

Enzio -- this was a paraphrase of the actual script (though not THAT far off at all).

6:29 AM  
Blogger A Mackey said...

Aw, crap. I actually put "hey idiot, make sure you understand what I'm really saying here" into my last script.

I guess that explains the lack of call backs?

7:14 AM  
Blogger Enzio Pesta said...

Maryan, I thought you only flirted with Konrad and Olaf. But if you insist, I'd be up for a little discipline.

7:23 AM  
Blogger daninthemix said...

"He's obviously talking about himself".

Obviously not that obviously though, eh?

To be fair I've committed far worse to the page. I shall now return to the corner.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Devin B. said...

Oh man... now I'm going to have to re-read my spec!

I hope to God I didn't sound dorky (sometimes, it's hard to tell... especially if you've been staring at 116-odd pages of your own work with maniacal zeal for over a year)!

Best Regards,
~Devin

2:24 PM  
Blogger The Moviequill said...

that writer has a lot to learn yet (note the obvious sarcasm)

3:02 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

To be fair, as I was reading this script it became obvious fairly quickly that this was a relatively amateurish effort. That doesn't mean the writer won't develop. But I still had to read through this person's first or second screenplay, and in this particular case, it clearly felt like I was! But I figured I'd point out how exactly this writer's amateurish tendencies came through. :-D

5:42 PM  
Blogger Emily Blake said...

The on-the-nose thing is bad enough, but who really talks like that? I can't imagine anyone in their right mind actually saying anything the way this dialogue is written unless it's a ponytail-wearing college professor in a literature or philosophy class.

7:00 PM  
Blogger oneslackmartian said...

Wow, I browse over here an hour late and all of the good punch lines have been taken.

Well, he could have written:

"He's obviously talking about hisself."

4:53 AM  
Blogger Brett said...

You bastard. You said you'd not post excerpts.

(He's obviously talking about his own script cited in the blog.)
.
.
.
on the nose, out the ass, nuthin but net B

8:13 PM  
Blogger Enzio Pesta said...

Emily, would you have my baby?

10:38 PM  

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