View Full Version : Explaining obscure or technical details

FJ and G
10-01-2004, 11:34 PM
Screenplays are supposed to show, not tell and are not supposed to get bogged down in details.

Having said that, can you put into your description a particular model of Civil War musket or railway car that was used or should you just say musket and railway car and let them figure it out?

Bonus question: a few weeks ago there was a post on this forum regarding the use of "we" in screenplays. I searched and searched for that post but couldn't find it. Can I get away with not using "we", e.g., "we see the van pulling up" and instead, "the van pulls up"


10-01-2004, 11:51 PM
I vote for: let the production team worry about details.

10-02-2004, 01:29 AM
I'd definitely say "flintlock musket" or "firelock musket" or whatever detail is important to the visuals -- the reason being that soldiers with firelocks would have to keep a fuse lit, or chomp a cigar or similar so they can literally fire their muskets. Northern soldiers might have identical gleaming Army issue muskets right off the manufacturing lines, which they'd load using paper cartridges with premeasured powder loads, while Southern soldiers might have a mix of new and old and in some cases antique weaponry if they had to bring their own, and pour powder from their horns. I'm not saying explain all this down to the smallest detail, but if you can add something with just an extra word or two that vividly underlines some aspect of your historical setting, why not?

The "we" debate popped up in dchapma123's "Scene heading - indeterminate time of day" thread and hasn't been shaved off into its own thread yet. An inconclusive result, as usual. But if you don't need to use "we see" then why include it? Your own example proves you already know the difference.

Shrug, my thoughts. May the Force help you to decide.


-----------------------My Web Page - naked women, bestial sex, and whopping big lies. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57)

Writing Again
10-04-2004, 10:13 AM
Any writing should be concise. Novel or screen. Why waste two words when you do not have to?

Some rules cover all forms of writing. Don't repeat the obvious is one.

The van pulls up.

Of course "we see" the van pull up. It is a movie.

And yes, if I were writing a spec script about the civil war I would do enough research that I would know which type of rifle, train, I thought best for the scene and inject it.

If I were commissioned, then I would leave it to the production department and stick with writing the story.

10-04-2004, 01:24 PM
What kind of van pulls up? Pizza delivery? A black FBI special with tinted windows? Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine?

Just a couple of extra words and you've added clarity to the scene.

What kind of weapon does the Confederate sniper raise to his shoulder as the Union officer rides by on the other side of the river? An ancient smooth-bore musket with a huge lock mechanism that looks like it came off the Ark? A Kentucky rifle with a barrel that's taller than its owner? Is there something about this weapon that absolutely tells us there's gonna be a horse missing its rider? Are the other Confederate soldiers armed with similar weapons or are their muskets all unique, a mix of designs from all eras?

Just a couple of extra words and you've added authenticity to a period piece. What defines a war better than the weapons used in that war? What defines the troops you're writing about better than the weapons they rely upon?


-----------------------My Web Page - naked women, bestial sex, and whopping big lies. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57)

10-04-2004, 05:48 PM
ditto what they said
be descriptive with a simple adjective to describe what kind of gun you have and leave the details to the prop department. that's why they exist. haven't you seen the long list of credits. everyone has a job. don't step on anyone's toes and they won't tell you how to write....unless it's their job to do so ;)

and "we see" is redundant. of course we see it. we see everything b/c it's on the screen. no need to tell us.

write on!

10-04-2004, 11:19 PM
They all have a point -- be concise and only give information that is necessary. If it's a pizza van (if it's relevant to the story), sure, say it. If it's a white van with tinted windows, say it (again, is it relevant to the story?) But there's no need to do: "A gray Dodge caravan 2004 SE model with silver trim and and 18" wheels..."

Imagine the script of "2 Fast 2 Furious"? :lol