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avid-dreamer
05-17-2010, 11:36 AM
Hi. I am working on a screenplay and I'm on an action scene with a man, his wife and son. I just want to know if there is an alternative way to describe what they're doing (basically running) without the constant use of "they" or "Nicholas, Sarah and John" or "Nicholas and his family" . Abbreviated and poorly written Example:

EXT. DARK ALLEY - DAY

Nicholas, Sarah and John run down the alley and break a corner. They pause as they spot three BAD GUYS.

The bad guys race after them.

Nicholas and his family turn and run back down the way they came.

They run across the street, dodging traffic and enter a

BUTCHER SHOP

and slip through one of the aisles.

The three bad guys enter and split up.

Nicholas leads Sarah and John to the back of the shop where they hide behind .....


Thanks for the help!

Gugland
05-17-2010, 01:58 PM
It's fine to be repetitive in descriptions. In fact, switching between "Nicholas, Sarah and John" and "Nicholas and his family" is worse, because it's confusing. It makes the reader wonder "so who are his family if it's not Sarah & John?".

I know it seems weird - I struggled with it too. Just remember that scene descriptions & actions are directions, not dialogue, so it's ok to be repetitive - the key is being clear.

Mac H.
05-17-2010, 02:03 PM
Another aspect is that you might want to mix it up a bit by having members of the family act more uniquely rather than as a single 'blob' acting.

Think about it for a moment. Everyone paused simultaneously? Everyone spotting the bad guys simultaneously? Everyone turned back simultaneously?

What are their personalities? Is Sarah timid? Is John trying to be brave but really petrified?

Is Nicolas hesitant - unsure which way to go?

They aren't going to do everything identically - so why not add more texture and interest to the scene by having them a bit different?

Good luck !

Mac

icerose
05-17-2010, 06:09 PM
Yeah give me more about the characters. Is the kid clutching anyone's hand? Doesn't anyone stumble or scream. Does anyone move protectively in front of the family or look for a way out or a weapon while the other one shields the kid? The problem isn't so much that you're using they to describe the. The problem is it's boring and doesn't really tell us anything.

nmstevens
05-17-2010, 07:23 PM
Yeah give me more about the characters. Is the kid clutching anyone's hand? Doesn't anyone stumble or scream. Does anyone move protectively in front of the family or look for a way out or a weapon while the other one shields the kid? The problem isn't so much that you're using they to describe the. The problem is it's boring and doesn't really tell us anything.

I'm going to have to agree with Mac and Icerose.

One of the things you should always ask about any scene is -- *who* is this scene about? That is, what character is the focus of the scene? Who should the audience be paying attention to? Where should the audience's eyes be looking?

They can't be looking at three places at once. At three characters at once. If all three are equally important, should people be looking at three places equally? All at once? Darting their eyes in thirds?

It sounds silly, but it isn't. The writer directs the attention of the reader in the same way that the director directs the attention of the viewer. You may have a crowd of thousands, or a roomful of hundreds, but you can bet that in the midst of that crowd there are going to be one person or a handful of people we should be looking at -- and in that handful of people, at any given moment, there's going to be *one* person that we should be looking at.

And just as the director directs us visually to that one person, you, the writer, must direct us on the page to that one person we should be paying attention to at any given moment, by what that one person is doing, what that one person is saying, what that one person is deciding.

That's why scripts should consist of individuals making decisions and engaging in actions - not groups of people -- unless the groups happen to be Imperial Storm Troopers who are about to shoot in a row, miss in a row and get mowed down in a row.

NMS