More About Editing Yourself
by Larry Brody
Beginning writers, accustomed to thinking of all stories in terms of the three act structure of beginning, middle, and end, often make the mistake of believing that the scenes within their teleplays and screenplays must also have beginnings, middles, and ends.
While it’s certainly true that scenes need to build to a specific point or effect, don’t forget to make use of another old homily: Less is more!
Here’s how I look at 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.
And please don’t tell the audience what’s going to happen next. Just let us see it. Our minds will immediately make the connection better than any written dialog ever could.
Speaking of not spelling out the future, whenever possible avoid repeating information.
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 we already know.
That’s for off camera, for the moments between the scenes.
Think of it like this: 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!
Another in what I hope will be a long run of helpful hints for TV writers here on TVWriter™ every Tuesday. Which brings up a point: If you’d like to share some writing tips with your fellow TVWriter™ visitors, please get in touch with me at email@example.com and we’ll try to make a guest post happen.