Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Reveals

At least that's all I can think of to call them right now.

Just saw one in In My Shoes, a pretty good movie. Was surprised to see Curtis Hanson directing, but after watching, it was a good story, so I can see how he would be drawn to it.

Anyhoo... one of the big questions in the movie is "why wasn't grandma around?" The question is the elephant in the room as soon as she's introduced. However, it's not just blurted out. It's not ripped out by one of the main characters in a forced, overly dramatic scene. It's teased out by one of the side characters in a private, emotional moment between the her and the grandma. She reveals the secret, adding that she's never told anybody, not even her husband.

It's a significant piece of the story and explains a lot about the relationship between the son in law as well.

It was extremelly well acted and well written.

It was much like the Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid classic reveal where the Kid has to reveal that he can't swim right before they jump off the cliff into the water. You knew the Kid was afraid of something - swimming hadn't come up until that moment. That's when it was most important.

It's a difficult thing to keep a secret in a story. The question is always there and you would figure *somebody* would just HAVE to talk about it -- but they don't.

It's left hanging there, scene after scene, minute after minute, for the audience to wonder and squirm about when it will be revealed.

Another film with a strong reveal was Gross Anatomy. The burning questions are, "why is she pushing him so hard? Why does she care so much?" Of course, once it's explained, you understand completely. However, it would have been a completely different movie had this been explained up front. The same with The Dead Poet's Society - if you know the big secret up front, the story isn't the same.

So next time you're answering questions left and right in your exposition, think about if it's worthwhile holding back a little and letting the audience stew a little before revealing all your information.

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