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08/04/2001 - More About Editing Yourself

Teleplay Tips & Tricks

More About Editing Yourself

Beginning writers, accustomed to thinking of all things in life as having a beginning, a middle, and an end, often make the mistake of believing that teleplays and screenplays, and scenes themselves, should be constructed the same thing. My advice to you regarding that is: No! Don't do it.

The human mind is a wonderful thing, and generations of film and TV have taught all of us to accept film shorthand so that our brains can fill in big blanks. Start your scripts as close to the middle as possible, and end them as soon as you can. Start your scenes the same way. Don't show two people meeting on the street and saying, "Hello." Instead, cut to them with their conversation already underway. And don't have anyone say "goodbye" either. End the scene as soon as it has made its emotional or story point.

Another thing to avoid is repeating information. Whenever possible, show the audience what the characters are learning. Then, once it has been seen, don't let the characters stop and tell each other what they've seen. That's for off camera, for the moments between the scenes. You've got a limited number of pages to use to tell a story to an audience with a limited attention span. Don't waste them!


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