Monday, May 19, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Untouchables (1987) - When in Doubt, "Hope-Fear"

[Quick Summary: Elliot Ness and his Untouchables try to take down Al Capone.]

How do you make a reader FEEL?

I've forgotten how.

Then I read this script, and it reminded me about the classic "hope-fear" sequencing.

You know what? It really works.

ex. 1 - "Ness unwraps the part of his lunch wrapped in the calendar page. He laughs.

NESS: Ha! (he holds it up) Message from my wife.


The calendar sheet.  Mrs. Ness has written on it: "I am very proud of you."

ex. 2 - [Then five pages later]  Ness' hand comes out of the pocket with a book of matchees and a folded piece of paper. He unfolds is slowly. It is the note from his wife which reads, "I am very proud of you.""

Ex. 1 - Ness is cheered by his wife's note (hope).
Ex. 2 - After a big defeat, that same note makes him feel like a big disappointment (fear).

Very effective, no?

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: If you're stuck, try out "hope-fear-hope-fear."

The Untouchables (1987)
by David Mamet

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