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Archive for June 13th, 2008

The difference between a screenplay and a short story/novel is that in a novel most of the action takes place in the protagonist’s head whereas in a screenplay most of the action is physical. Only what the character does gives us a glimpse into his character.

 

Also it is a very tight document that leaves absolutely no scope for any flab. If a scene has no bearing on the story but is there for the express purpose of illuminating a character trait, it has no place in the screenplay.

 

Also, another ploy that is used to trim the fat and keep the tension going is the scene structure. Just like a story/screenplay, a scene has a legitimate beginning, middle and end. But we DON’T always have to begin at the beginning and take it all the way through to the end. When writing a scene a good theory to employ is, ‘enter as late as possible and exit as early as you can.’

 

For example,

 

INT. BAASI HOUSE — DAY

 

ANGLE ON

 

Seven potted plants lined up against a wall.

 

BAASI (O.S.)

                                     Number seven suits me.

 

Reveal BAASI, sitting on two chairs. He wears two watches, two necklaces, two shirts etc. OMI sits respectfully in front of him. Seeing Omi’s quizzical gaze, Baasi explains,

 

BAASI (CONTD.)

                                    I do everything in twos. As you can see I wear two

shirts, two watches, I even eat from two plates.

 

OMI

And sleep with two wives?

 

BAASI                  

      (IRRITATED)

How dare you? And so loudly? What if my first wife

heard it?

 

OMI

                                           (EMBARASSED LAUGH)

You’d have to die twice?

 

BAASI

     (GLARES AT HIM)

Let’s get on with it, shall we? What’s your name?

 

OMI

Omi.

 

Baasi looks pleased.

 

BAASI

                                     It’s a good name. It will lead to good things like

                                     celibacy and nirvana.

               

                                                 OMI

                                     Good God!

 

BAASI

                                     Yes, he definitely is.

               

                                                OMI

                                    No what I meant is I don’t want all that. In fact, the

very reason I came to you was so that..that…

 

Omi leans closer and whispers into Baasi’s ear. Baasi smiles widely.

 

BAASI

Why didn’t you say so?

 

Baasi throws a pair of dice, shuffles some cards, makes some calculations.

 

BAASI

I’ve got it. What you need is the letter K.

                                        CUT

INT. CANTEEN — DAY

 

ANGLE ON

 

RADHIKA, MANOJ and PIDDI looking bewildered.

 

RADHIKA

       (CRACKS UP)

KOMI?! You are going to call yourself Komi?

 

OMI

                                             (GRIMACES)

What other choice did I have? The other options

were Omik, which sounds like a milk brand, and

Okmi, which sounds like a Japanese geisha.

 

We go into scene 1 late, dispense with the introductions and enter scene 2 late, thereby avaoiding duplication of infomation. 

 

In fact, these days, with more and more emphasis on keeping manuscripts tight, even novelists are taking screenwriting classes to learn tips on how to hook their readers from the word go.

 

Excuse the formatting errors. I’m still not getting it!

 

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