Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Screenwriter Secrets of Effective Storytelling!
Part 1: The Language (continued)

#4: Ying or Yang?

Sometimes the most effective way of figuring out what something is, is to figure out what it isn't. That way, you can hone in on your subject.

However, this could hamper your storytelling.

I've often used the "negative" in describing what I see. The simplest example would be describing something at night. I might begin by saying "the room was devoid of light" or "the streetlights were all out." But I'm never satisfied with that description, because it makes the reader do too much work. And I'd rather have the reader bounce along in the story than stopping to figure things out.

So, I'll recast certain descriptions in a "positive" way. Instead of saying "devoid of light" I'll use "Darkness threatens to eat up the small square of light the moon casts on the floor." (Hey, we're talking dramatic effect here!) The "streetlights are out" segment will become "the only light on the street came from his flashlight."

Casting things in the negative stops the reader and makes him or her imagine first the alternate, which must then be removed. For "a room devoid of light" the reader must first imagine the room "with light" and then turn the lights off.

I'd much rather go ahead into the room and turn the lights off for you.

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