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.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Redundancy

Well, after my most recent double post, it would appear somebody wants an article on redundancy.

That is, saying the same thing again. When you've already said it. Or shown it.

Doing the same thing over again, because, you believe, some people are thick (they really are) and they're just not getting it.

So, you say it again. Or show it again.

Redundancy.

It's only really good on a network.

See, we have a habit of doing it in our stories when we're not paying attention. We'll show something happen, then turn right around and have a character repeat what just happened. Doh!

I've seen many a script have a scene with somebody talking on the phone, they'll chat away with another character beside them, and then, when they are finished on the phone, they repeat what the phone conversation was about. Now, maybe your other character is really polite and not listening to what was said on the phone, but, you'd better hope your audience is not that well-mannered. My recommendation for things like that is to either start the phone conversation off-screen so we don't hear it - we just see them hang up. Or have the conversation mean something - i.e. the other character should not be listening, but is and then the other person lies to them about the call.

There is also the situation which replays itself over and over through your story because you're *sure* the audience just isn't going to get it the first time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you've made it fairly obvious, then just let it ride and see how reactions go before adding it into the story again. If Marge is seen getting shot, we don't need to hear somebody say, "did you hear Marge was shot?"

A sort of exception to this would be in line with the Rule of Threes. Whereby you could relay the same information again; however, it would have to be either interpreted differently each time or the first two times would be the same and we would expect the third to be the same, but it is totally different and story/character impacting as a result.

This doesn't just apply to characters and story. It also applies to the very words you put on the page. Just as the word "like" is being overused, you don't want to put the same descriptive word down over and over. Obviously, words such as "the" will be repetitive, but you want to avoid stuff like: "It was a quiet night. He walked quietly across the room trying not to wake the person sleeping on the couch." You get the picture.

With characters, you can use this to a good effect if it's in their character to use a word over and over. Simple example is the word "like" or "dude" which has been popular for surfer guys and gals.

It could be a character who uses a particular curse word and is trying to stop - yet can't. Perhaps they have a string of creative substitutes they fail to utilize in the moment of truth.

As you go through that rewrite, keep a heads-up for the redundancy factor.

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