Never, Ever Repeat

I may have talked about this before. If I have, forgive me. I’m not trying to sell this blog to anybody. You, however, are trying to sell a screenplay, so YOU can’t repeat. There’s no time for it. Ever.

Readers read at 90 m.p.h.. They want to get it and move on. If you tell them the same thing over and over, they’ll think you don’t know what you’re doing and it will make them nervous. Not what you want.

Something I wrote this morning, from my kid’s pirate book…

Captain Dalgleish stepped over to my mom. He rubbed her hair like he was patting a cat. “No, not treasure alone.” Every muscle in Ned’s body tensed up. His face was dark with hatred. He was about to explode. “Not simply treasure… companionship.”

I reread it and trimmed the fat.

Captain Dalgleish stepped over to my mom. He rubbed her hair like he was patting a cat. “No, not treasure alone.” Every muscle in Ned’s body tensed up. “Not simply treasure… companionship.”

Maybe I was too overzealous in my slicing, but I felt that Ned being tense is enough. Or maybe, I should go with “face was dark with hatred,” but in any event, I need to go with ONE thought, not three.

Read your work out loud and see if you find yourself having said things twice… or three times. Cut the repetition.

This is also true in dialogue. I find beginning writers have their characters say more or less the same thing in different ways, and they think they are presenting the reader with new information. They are not. They are boring the reader. Each chunk of dialogue should present one basic idea, not one idea expressed over and over again with subtle variations that only the author can see.

Say it once and move on.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Never, Ever Repeat

  1. Brett in Manhattan

    For some, myself included, it comes from a fear the script won’t be long enough. Dialogue fills pages.

    btw,

    Met Bill Murray, last night. I talked about football.

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