Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TODAY'S 2nd NUGGET: Truncated Action Descriptions

A fellow writer sent me this blog article, "Cliches to Avoid Like the Plague" by Dan Reilly, a Hollywood story analyst, & asked me what I thought. 

It's excellent.

I'd never really realized that "Just looks" & "They laugh" are unnecessary stage (as in theater) directions.

He also writes about my biggest pet peeve: the truncated action descriptions.

ex. “Two legs. Running fast. Night sky. No stars. The legs. Run faster. A bomb. No time. EXPLOSION.”

The idea is to keep the sentences short b/c readers have no attention spans.  That is good.

However, a whole script of truncations will cause me to see red.  (And yes, I have.) I'll probably go Hulk on you.

Why?

These aren't sentences.  They're fragments.  For NO REASON.  That's NOT COOL.

My eyes get tired from stop-start-stop-start.  I'm not paying attention to your story.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Unless you've got a @#$()*% good reason, don't use truncated action descriptions.

What are @#$()% good reasons? 

To point out the murder weapon: "He shot her with an Uzi.  Her Uzi."
To slow the reader on purpose: "Scarlett. In red. Leaping from the cliff. THE END."

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