Friday, May 25, 2007

Realizing what you already know

There are a lot of things we as writers already know. We just don't know that we know those things.

At the Rossio and Elliot panel last night, they talked about characters having differing points of view (their example was Shrek -- how Shrek is 'ok' and knows he's ok (as in, how he feels about himself as an...ogre) which is very different than Fiona who is 'ok', but thinks she's not. Anyway, by having each character with a different view (oh and Donkey is very much NOT ok) it sets up instant conflict.

This discussion somehow spun into dialogue, how to create good dialogue. Terry mentioned how he goes from Tia Dalma (in POC:vDead Man's Chest) asking "Are you all ready to get Jack Sparrow?" to what she *actually* says. He also threw in the idea of knowing what the character of the scene is. The scene is about throwing down a challenge to this group (to set up the next movie) -- think of it like Survivor, where Jeff Probst gathers the contestants and then tells them about their next task. Tia's line becomes a challenge -- "Are you ready to do what it takes to get Jack Sparrow?" which becomes this:

Would you do it?
(to all of them)
What would you do, would any of you, be willing to do? Would you sail to the ends of the earth and beyond to fetch back Witty Jack and his precious Pearl?

Cleary Terry and Ted find ways to use the vernacular of the character to spice up the line, but as it reads it evokes emotion and character far better than "so are you ready to go get Jack?"

Okay, so that got me thinking about my own work. I asked myself, do I give each character an emotional viewpoint for every line in every scene? That may seem like a lot of work, but think about it. Right now, you have an emotion. It may not be grandiose, but you could be annoyed with this post, amused, interested, angry, even indifferent. Each emotion would color any response you might give, and they would all do it differently. So, I looked at one of my scenes in my pilot. Braden (protag, a cop) has to deal with a guy who has locked himself into a room. The guy, Buddy, has gone crazy.

Braden's emotion in this scene is one of annoyance. Buddy is a nuisance who is just causing Braden trouble. But Braden likes Buddy despite himself. He doesn't want the little bugger to die. Buddy, however, is out of his mind crazy. He's scared. He's desperate for escape, to the point he's willing to throw himself out a window So the question I have to ask myself is: does every line as written reflect the emotions and POVs of each character.

Guess what I'll be doing this weekend? Yep, asking myself this question for every. single. line.

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