Writing Plays/Screenwriting/Rephrasing

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Question
QUESTION: Hi, wondering if I could have help with this small part of my screenplay:


ALEX
I'm starting to get the feeling you weren't meeting up with them at the carnival. Where are we going?

TODD 
You'll see. It's just over here.

Alex takes a glance at the fireworks above, then looks ahead at where he's been taken.

Zack and Tom splash in the shallow waters of the Mississippi. Mark swings on a rope tied to a branch that leads out over the water. They all wear swimsuits.

TODD
You up for it?











I feel that this could be rephrased a little. In my screenplay I do say that where they're at is the Mississippi River. Any suggestions? Merry Christmas!

ANSWER: Hi Aaron,

There are some principles that you might want to follow in the future.

In screenplays, dialogue compression is essential. Watch out for these two flaws:

1. wordy sentences.
ALEX
I'm starting to get the feeling you weren't meeting up with them at the carnival.
A better rendition would be:

I get the feeling you weren't meeting them at the carnival.

Also the line, Alex takes a glance at the fireworks, is spongy. Rely on straight single-word verbs like:
Alex glances at the fireworks.

2. questions intended to prompt information.

ALEX
Where are we going?

This question is what I call a "feeder question"; that is, it's feeding a clue to a character asking for information.

It's much better to let the next speaker volunteer information. Let's suppose the question is eliminated. What options might you have for Todd's line?

TODD
I have a better idea. We're almost there. Look.

Alex spots Zack and Tom splashing in the shallow waters of the Mississippi. Mark swings on a rope tied to a branch overhanging the water. They both wear swimsuits.

TODD
You up for it?

Hope this helps. I recommend that you review your whole script and see how many of these two flaws exist, now that you know how to fix them.

All the best,
Barry


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the advice. Here's my revision:


ALEX
I get the feeling you weren't meeting up with them at the carnival.

TODD
Don't worry. This is going to be great.

Alex glances at the fireworks, then looks ahead at where he's been taken.

Alex spots Zack and Tom splashing in the shallow waters of the Mississippi. Mark swings on a rope tied to a branch overhanging the water. They all wear swimsuits.

TODD
You up for it?






You wrote "They both wear swimsuits" but since there are 3 of them I wouldn't make sense. So I kept that to "all".


When Alex says: I get the feeling you weren't...


I like it.



I was also thinking about: I'm getting the feeling you weren't...




I thougt either would be fine, but I'm not sure.

Answer
Hi Aaron,

This is much better.

The following needs amendment:

Alex glances at the fireworks, then looks ahead at where he's been taken.

If Alex "glances ahead," it's illogical to say "he's been taken" because he could not possibly be there.

Try: "Alex glances at the fireworks, then looks ahead at where he's being taken."

Or simply: "Alex glances at the fireworks, then looks ahead."

All the best,
Barry

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Barry Pearson

Expertise

I`m a credited writer on nine feature films. My latest movie, IRON ROAD, which stars Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, opened as feature, then aired as a four-hour miniseries on network television. Sun Li, the Chinese star, won the best actress award at the Roma Fiction Fest recently. www.ironroadthemovie.com) I’ve produced more than 300 episodes of television drama, including 13 episodes of Deepwater Black, and 106 episodes of Katts & Dog (Rin-Tin-Tin, K-9 Cop in the U.S.). I've answered over 1200 All Experts questions!

Experience

I've been in the business of writing and producing feature films, television series, and MOW's for over 20 years. You can check me out at this URL http://www.createyourscreenplay.com/aboutbp.htm

Publications
You can find my books on Amazon. See DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR STORY (http://tinyurl.com/StoryStealers)which is a stripped-down readable summary of copyright, full of entertaining anecdotes and real-life examples. Read about the true horror stories that clearly show you what you need to do to avoid the misfortune of having your literary material stolen. Find out: * How to take simple inexpensive steps to protect yourself, before, during, and after you write your literary work. * How copyright law applies to writers of literary works. * How literary works enter public domain, and how you can use it to your advantage. * What aspects of literary works are protected by copyright, and what aspects are not protected. * How to create documentation that will prove your copyright entitlement in the event of an infringement on your rights. * How you can protect yourself if you are contracted to write for television. You’ll also get a FREE sample of an Option and Purchase Agreement, a contract used in the acquisition of rights in a literary property—a contract that you and your lawyer can customize for your property. Written by a writer, for writers, Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Story will help you protect yourself against plagiarists and anyone else who might infringe your right of sole ownership. ------------- Also on Amazon, my book of four short stories, THE TWENTY-BUSHEL RACER. A man’s redemption from bitterness enables him to become a loving father. A teenager discovers the importance of his attachment to the people in his life and the place where he is growing up. A man, who has for years considered himself a coward and a betrayer of his comrades, musters the courage to stand up against a pair of would-be assassins. Two young men, who grew up in the same town, meet unexpectedly, reminisce about a girl they both loved when they were boys, and unveil a truth that changes both their lives.

Education/Credentials
Master of Arts degree (Drama)

Awards and Honors
Among my awards are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, at the International Film & Television Festival of New York for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN ALONZO BOYD, Best Screenplay, Feature Film, at the 12th International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain for PLAGUE, and a Special Jury Award, Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival for PLAGUE.

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