[Quick Summary: A 10 yr. old boy strives to return an abandoned alien back home, but must outwit the adults who want to get their hands on it.]
It drives me batty when people say, "The tone of that script is good/bad/not there", but don't explain.
What the hell is "tone" anyway?
My unscientific definition: Tone is the mood of a script.
Why is it important? You can teach structure or dialogue, but it's harder to explain how to keep a tone/mood consistent.
However, in reading the script for "E.T.", I did find a few clues:
- This script never violates character. It's realistic & truthful.
GOOD - The script is realistic when the kids hide their new alien friend & take him food.
BAD - The script would've been false if the kids thought like adults & called a press conference.
- The script doesn't try to be too politically correct & lose the point of view.
GOOD - From the kids' point of view, the adults who want E.T. are BAD people.
BAD - If the script tried to defend the adults & make everyone happy, the conflict is lost. The tone is more like a news show than a story.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: If you don't violate character, you probably won't violate tone/mood either.
by Melissa Mathison