Thursday, March 8, 2012

About scene descriptions and dialogue.

I received a comment, among other things, about me sometimes not using any scene descriptions in my scripts. This got me thinking why I tend to do that and what's the rationale behind it.

So I gave it some thought and I think the reason for me sometimes going straight to the dialogue - and not writing anything that establishes or describes the scene - is because in certain situations it doesn't really matter what the characters are doing.

I guess to some that might sound weird, but nevertheless, what is much more important is what the characters are actually saying.

For example in my Modern Family script, in the very first scene, Cam and Mitchell are having a discussion about doing something. Cameron wants to do it and Mitchell is kinda against it, whatever that is.

So there they are, in their familiar bedroom set, and I go straight to the dialogue without giving you any clue what they are doing there. (I think we can assume that it's just them)

I could and should have described what they were doing and yet I didn't. I simply skipped that part and didn't check back again.

I mean, they might just have been standing there (probably). But they might also have been in the bed. Or they might have been eating something. Or they might have been doing yoga or something equally silly.

Or perhaps the whole thing might also have happened completely off-screen. I don't know.

I just didn't pay any attention to what they were doing because in the end it wouldn't really have made much of a difference here. I only paid attention to make sure that what they said actually meant something.

Scripts are based on ideas - and characters saying stuff is what drives those ideas. Dialogue is what gives your story energy, direction and purpose. Scene descriptions on the other hand... well, don't forget them, but sometimes they just aren't that important.

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