It’s that time again. That time when my latest ep of TD is gearing up, and I have something to complain about. This time, it’s blocking. You know, who stands where and what any character is doing at any given moment. AKA action. I’m having the worst time writing the action in TD 19, and I know why. It’s all talking heads. Everyone’s yapping at each other, imparting IMPORTANT INFORMATION, and mostly sitting around while they do it. On TV, you get a two-shot going, or maybe you switch off the over-the-shoulder shots of each speaker in turn, and the visuals become less important than what’s being said.

Which is fine, if it’s only one scene, but I have scene after scene of yammering.

So I try to break it up by having the characters DO something while they yammer, but there’s only so much coffee they can drink.

Oy, I’ve been here before, when the neat little tricks that spice up a scene just won’t come to my brain.

21 thoughts on “Urgh.

  1. Whenever that happens, I end up putting in a lot of head turning, eye movement, and other facial reactions body language, but there’s only so much of that you can do before it gets monotonous. Even though in real life, that’s exactly the “action” you would see in that situation, it doesn’t work in fiction.

    The problem is, the dialogue is relating a lot of surprising information, and it would just be weird to *not* see a character’s facial reaction.

    Urrrr…don’t know what to do.

  2. My problem is that I like writing dialog. I’ll go on for a page and a half and suddenly realize nobody seems to have moved a muscle that’s not connected to their mouths. Not good! It leads to a lot of ‘squirming’ that doesn’t add up to any action.

  3. Not that you were looking for advice, but I’ve found that having someone look for something is a great way to break up a scene like that. “Where is my damned cell phone? Where are my keys?” Etc. Or cleaning, cooking, stuffing envelopes, wrestling with reticent office equipment.

  4. I wouldn’t mind having a page or two of pure dialogue, with minimal reaction shots, if it weren’t for the fact that the dialogue itself requires more reaction shots. It’s just it requires the same reaction numerous times.

    *bangs head*

  5. Oh, I have *all sorts* of tricks just like that one that I’ve used. The problem is, the first half of my script is almost *all dialogue* and there’s only so much coffee they can drink, keys they can search for, and other pointless action I can stuff in there before the reader gets restless and starts Jonesing for a demon attack, or *any action* with a little relevance.

  6. I suppose with whatever fits. Script is different obviously than prose where I can at least put in small actions to do something to break it up. But if there’s scene after expository scene, a little action would be good in between them

  7. That’s where I’m having the problem, in that the second half of the script is heavy with action, but those scenes depend on the set-up of the first half of the script, which is dialogue-heavy. So the action has to come AFTER the dialogue, it can’t really be interspersed among the dialogue scenes.

    So…in order to make the dialogue scenes less talky-meat, I’m adding in those kind of actions people can do while talking, that is, eating, drinking, walking, searching for their keys…yada yada…

    It’s not helping liven it up much.

  8. LOL! I have a scene that’s exactly like that in TD 19. It’s in a police interrogation room.

    Actually, come to think of it, I have more than one scene like that (*why* did I make Faith’s apartment so small?? Oh right, she’s poor).

  9. It made sense to make her apartment small when I first created her apartment. But then I had to go and have the Slayer Council offices taken over by demons, forcing Faith to hold meetings and training sessions in her tiny apartment.

    WTF was I thinking??

  10. I know that problem well. Sigh. The first time I encountered it, the characters were eating and they talked and ate and talked and ate…later I decided to try to have the talk scenes be a part of some other kind of scenes, if ever possible.

    But OT: Did you see Dr. Atomic? Wondering if you liked it. There’s a review today at Slate:

  11. We decided to skip Doctor Atomic this time around, it’s just not financially feasible. It will come back soonish. It’s like three hours long, too.

    I always try to put dialogue scenes in interesting settings. I read this book on writing once where the author was talking about this exact subject, and she said something like, “Your characters are having their big break-up scene? Don’t stage it in the living room of their house. Stage it on the spinning t-cups at Disneyland.” A setting that’s not only more interesting but can have interesting metaphorical effect as well.

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