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Old March 24 2012, 11:42 PM   #87
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

That's a great analysis, Middy.

Frankly, there's a tendency amongst creators to fall in love with their work and it's difficult to get and maintain the necessary critical distance from it.

It's good to challenge every scene. Why is this scene here? Is it advancing the plot, illustrating the theme, telling us something about the character AND is it entertaining? Ideally, it should be all four of those things. That's very very hard to do, but it's a goal you have to aim for when writing for film/TV.

Exposition has a tendency to be deadly dull, and is best accomplished in situ, rather than via characters standing around discussing it.

The hilarious play "Urinetown: The Musical" nails it in this exchange during the opening scene, titled—appropriately—"Too Much Exposition":

Little Sally
Say, Officer Lockstock, is this where you tell the audience about the
water shortage?

What's that, Little Sally?

Little Sally
You know, the water shortage. The hard times. The drought. A shortage so
awful that private toilets eventually become unthinkable. A premise so
absurd that—

Whoa, there, Little Sally. Not all at once. They'll hear more about the
water shortage in the next scene.

Little Sally
Oh, I guess you don't want to overload them with too much exposition, huh.

Everything in its time, Little Sally. You're too young to understand it
now, but nothing can kill a show like too much exposition.

Little Sally
How about bad subject matter?


Little Sally
Or a bad title, even? That could kill a show pretty good.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "Is this information for the audience's benefit or the character's benefit?" If the former, you're not doing your job right.
* * *
"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
—Will Rogers
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