Don’t Repeat. Anything. Ever. Again…

I don’t read my old blogs. For all I know, I only have three topics and I just write about the same thing over and over and over. Which is where the book came from, seeing the same mistakes over and over and over. So, here’s one I guess I see a lot. Forgive me if I am repeating myself.

You’re not supposed to.
But since it’s my blog, I guess I can.
Anyway.

This seems to happen a LOT in dialogue. I do it too, so don’t feel rained on. It’s just that I know I do it, and you may not know you do it. I go through my script with my nifty DON’T REPEAT hat on and look at scene description. Slug lines. Mostly dialogue.

Just say the stuff once and move on. That is a SURE FIRE way to keep your story moving. If nothing is ever, in any way, however slight (unless it’s a rhythm thing)… ever repeated, it’s tougher for the reader to get bored.

Don’t repeat what you just told us in a slug line:

INT. FANCY BAR NIGHT
Bob and Sue enter the fancy bar.

INT. GRUBBY BAR DAY
The grubby bar is terribly grubby. I mean, really grubby.

Instead, do it this way:

INT. COOL ASS BAR DAY
Bob and Sue each drink a case of scotch.

The entire way, you are telling us something NEW, so we’re not bored.

I see it way more in dialogue:

RALPH
So, have you got a boyfriend?

ANGELYNE
No, I don’t. Nobody cares about me.

Cut “No, I don’t.” Move on, faster!

Or…

GEORGE WASHINGTON
Hey Aaron! Burr!!

BURR
Wash baby! How ya hangin’?

Cut “Hey Aaron!”
Cut “How ya hangin’.”

Move forward, faster.
This is a bit insidious in that you have to wear your magic DON’T REPEAT hat and notice when things you wrote that aren’t really the same, but are close enough to the same to cut one of them.

Such as…

George and Angelyne are kissing.

ANGELYNE
Yummy. For the father of a country, you are a real good kisser.

Cut “Yummy.” Even though it’s slightly different, it basically says the same thing. With this one, it’s easy to see the repetition:

ANGELYNE
You are a great kisser. You are a great kisser.

You’d never do that, would you?
But I bet you do subtle variations of that all the time.

So don’t.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Don’t Repeat. Anything. Ever. Again…

  1. Annie

    Good advice! I’m an efitor. Love this stuff.

  2. Thank you so much for your blog, Mr. Akers! I bought your book earlier today, too. They’re both invaluable aids to a novice screenwriter.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I think you’ll find the book helpful. Glad you are enjoying the blog. Tell everyone you know!

  3. I just had a reading of my script, and I noticed 5 or 6 times during the second act that the exact same meaning was communicated by a different character under a different circumstance. Even I got bored.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      A reading is a wonderful thing when the actors are up to speed. If they are not, you’re going to think you’ve written horrid dialogue. A reading is great to be able to hear the material and answer questions from actors who are feeling rough spots in the dialogue or story. How great is it to be bored in a reading, so you can correct it before an agent sees it!

  4. Helenea

    I’m a woman- I never repeat myself lol!
    Thanks for the tip- sending ya love- over and over again…

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