Do not be obvious. Oh, please oh please!

When you are reading your script out loud, and Dearly Beloved, I am sure you are reading out loud like religion, be sure to notice obvious crap that you do not absolutely have to tell the reader.

“He hangs up THE PHONE.”
Well, duuh.
Is he hanging up his nose? If so, do tell us, because that one, we’d never, ever guess.
A phone, drunk as I am, I still could guess THAT.

This writing error drives me nuts, as it’s a sure sign of an amateur who doesn’t realize the reader is not a congenital idiot.

“She leaves THE ROOM.”
Again, WTF?
Are we not literate? Did you not tell us in the slug line that she was in A ROOM? Do you feel we are morons? Stoned? Have we forgotten in the course of reading a mere half a page, that she was gleefully hoovering that cocaine in A ROOM?

Here, in improper screenplay format, is another delicious example…

***

DAVE
Where’s my newspaper?

CONSTANCE
I’m headed out to the garden to do some weeding.

She exits. Abby looks at Dave.

ABBY
I don’t have your silly newspaper.

***

When Abby speaks to Dave, we ASSUME she looks at him. Again, so duuuh. It’s BLOODY OBVIOUS. So, why tell us something we already know?
WHY MAKE THE READER FEEL LIKE A MORON?
It’s not the way to get him / her to like what you’ve written.
Most people like to pretend they are intelligent. Myself included.

Keep that in mind while you’re reading your stuff out loud.

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5 Comments

Filed under Details, Rewriting, Screenwriting, Writing Process

5 responses to “Do not be obvious. Oh, please oh please!

  1. Wow. That’s a lot of rage, Will.

  2. Melody Lopez

    I establish three characters in a van…the lead tells the other two to wait for his cue before they exit.

    When the lead cues the female to exit in dialog with “Now Aafia”… is that enough– soo that I don’t have to say “She grabs the weapon and exits”…

    because a couple action lines later she’s using the weapon against the good guys…

    If I can save on that one line…great…but I’m not sure if in this case its considered obvious or not…Do tell! Thanks!

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Sounds to me like you want to go on and tell us she grabs the gun and scoots… because, when we see her shooting the place to doll rags in the next scene, we don’t want to be thinking, “Where did that GUN come from…”

      At least that’s my take on it… but what do I know? I’m just a guy with a blog.

      • Melody Lopez

        I wanted to tell the audience that she grabs it …it felt like a necessary picture to paint…maybe I’ll punctuate it her banging it on the way or something so its almost comical…. I’m not sure…but thanks!

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