Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BOOK CLUB: You Don’t Need To Know the Message, Right? (Ch. 20)

[Today we're reading Ch. 20 Actions Speak Louder Than Words, But Together They Can Speak Volumes, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002).]

The author writes that "all action is geared to the expression of the message." p. 102.

Most writers get that action should push the story/message forward.

However, sometimes they fail to remember that it must be there for EVERY single scene.

What I hate seeing:

- A setup without any foreshadowing or hint it’s relevant. Ex. Man is on vacation in Hawaii, and he buys a snowsuit. The entire script is in Hawaii. What was the point of the snowsuit?

- An action that creates a good set piece, but doesn’t tell me anything about the story. Ex. Woman races for the helicopter, but ninjas get in the way & there’s a big battle with swords. What is the point of the fight? Is there a ticking clock? Does she have to save Scruffy before he’s dognapped for good?

- A writer who doesn’t know what the message is.
ME: “What is this about?”
Writer: “Uh…..?”
Ergo, you have an non-cohesive script.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Although you may not know what your message is at first, make sure you do by the time it gets to me.


[DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked, nor paid, to read or comment on this book.]

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