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JeffN
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎03-05-2007
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visual storytelling writing exercise

Jack enters the bedroom of his simple, but clean apartment. He sits down on the bed with a tired expression. He begins to lay back, when something catches the corner of his eye. On the bedstand is a note, which has a girl's name and number on it. Below those are the words Antonio's restaurante with today's date and the time eight o'clock. He looks at his watch, which says seven and gives a surpised look. He gets up and leaves the room. He hangs up his coat and removes his tie.

Jack scrubs himself off in the shower as he hums a happy tune.

Jack puts on his Khaki pants and and a sport coat. He pats the slightly bulging stomach and sucks it in as much as he can, before he is forced to let is bulge out again. He pats the pocket of his coat and his pants, but they are empty. No Keys or wallet. He looks at his watch. Twenty minutes has gone by.

In the bedroom, Jack looks on his bed for the missing items, but only finds the wallet. He looks in the pants and coat for his keys, but nothing. He looks at his watch, five minutes have gone by. He looks closer at the bed and picks up a small bit of cat hair. He shakes his head and walks out of the room.

The cat tower stands in the corner of his apartment. He looks at the opening near the ground and the one at eye level, but no cat. In a reflection from the mirror on the opposite wall, he sees Ginger hiding in tne top tier, just out of reach. He look at his watch, five minutes have gone by. He walks into the kitchen, grabs the can of tuna and walks over. He waves is just under where Ginger is hiding. The cat pokes her head out, his keys in her mouth. He backs away and Ginger moves toward him further. He sets the tuna down and backs away. Ginger goes to the can and drops the keys beside them. The cat looks up, then starts eating the tuna. Jack grabs the keys and rushes out the door, his cell phone still on the kitchen counter.
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crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: visual storytelling writing exercise

this is a pretty good example of that pre-date nearly-frenzied-and-frantic race pace, except Jack doesn't really seemed so rushed, more slightly annoyed at the game his silly cat is playing with his social life!

minor little details I would change/add would be things like detailing the note/clock co-relation; something like instead of saying the note says today's date 8 o'clock, detail it as the note reads: Sunday, March 11 8pm. Then he glances at the digital watch on his wrist, noting with sudden alarm, the date SUN 3/11 and the time 7:03pm

it's subtle, small I know, probably unimportant really, easy enough to visualize either way, but I read somewhere that the more details the screenplay writer adds to the draft behind the desk, the less work is generally necessary on the part of the actors and crew behind the camera

not that I'm a grand master scriptologist myself

just my opinion, I've been wrong before
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Ian
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Ian
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎03-15-2007
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Re: visual storytelling writing exercise

Jeff,

The most enjoying part of this was the action at the core of the scene: Jack has to get his keys from the cat. But, you added some subtle hints about who Jack is because of some seemingly minor details, like him sucking in his gut. That visual speaks volumes about this character.

I'm a little bit of the opposite when it comes to detail in a script. We're charged with describing something that will inevitably have everybody from actors to directors to suits adding in their visions. I tend to be as lean with my descriptions as possible but I still have to get the message across to the reader. Here, you use the note and time-checking to let us know his predicament but it detracts from the core of the scene - the cat and owner chase over the keys.

Using that scenario you can add a lot of those 'seemingly minor' details to help us learn about Jack. Is Jack afraid of the cat, angry, sad, frustrated? Any of these can be shown by the way he interacts with the animal. He chases the cat, keys jangling in its mouth, into the cat stand and kicks the stand until if falls. Or, he collapses onto the floor and punches and kicks in a tantrum. Something to think about.

Nice going and thanks for letting me read it.

Cheers,
Ian
NEM
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NEM
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: visual storytelling writing exercise

I liked this one and it's touch of humor. Someone else I think also said that maybe you could have done something with a clock or watch face as device to shift the time forward in the piece.
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danielnoah
Posts: 141
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: visual storytelling writing exercise


Ian wrote:
Jeff,

I'm a little bit of the opposite when it comes to detail in a script. We're charged with describing something that will inevitably have everybody from actors to directors to suits adding in their visions. I tend to be as lean with my descriptions as possible but I still have to get the message across to the reader. Here, you use the note and time-checking to let us know his predicament but it detracts from the core of the scene - the cat and owner chase over the keys.



Hi, Jeff. Nice scene. I really got the comic tone of it, and I had a strong sense of the character that came from the very honest and private moment of him looking in the mirror and sucking his gut. I wanted to quote Ian's comment because I think it's important. When writing visually, detail can be a friend, or it can be an enemy. It's important to strike just the right balance. There must be enough details to set the tone of a moment or an image, but not so many that the pace of the read becomes too slow. For example, the detail of sucking the gut is the kind that adds to the read because it says so much about the emotional life of the character. But, as Ian pointed out, all the inserts of the time were simply distracting. All you need to do is establish just once that he is running late, and we'll remember it without the reminders. Those are the kinds of details that detract. In screenplays, most of the detail is left to the reader's imagination.

In fact, since screenplays work best when the minimum of detail is presented, why bother envisioning all that detail in the first place? Just as you don't want to clog your reader's brain with too much information, keep your own brain clear, too. A good guideline for yourself is to imagine that you are watching your scenes play out from 50 feet away. From that distance, you can only see the big stuff -- entrances and exits, a kiss, a punch -- but you can't see gestures, or the exact expression on a character's face. Of course, once in a while you might need to duck in closer to study something really important -- say, someone writing down the combination to a safe -- but unless you have to, it's best to stay 50 feet away.

Good work.
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