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This week's question

I know you read and cover scripts for producers.  What was the last script you passed on and why?

L.L. Perry  

This week's Answer: 

It's Not Always Obvious When It's Too Obvious

What an interesting question, which I'm glad to answer. The last script I passed on had an engaging logline (which I won't reveal because I don't want to be hauled away by the Logline Police who arrest script consultants who reveal screenwriters' loglines without their permission. Have you noticed script consultants' number dwindling lately? Even the consultants disappearing in the dead of night? Now you know: Logline Police.)

So, I proceeded to ask for the screenplay and looked forward to reading it, hoping upon hope that the execution of it would be at least on the save level as the concept. I still had that hope as I read the first several pages, appreciating the clever dialogue, liking how the characters were being introduced. But, then... it wasn't to be. I saw a major problem immediately and, even though the writer knew how to turn a phrase and how to attract somebody into his created story world, he made a mistake that caused me to stop reading and pass on the script. Can you guess what that mistake was?...............

(That was a dramatic pause to create unnecessary tension.) The writer was too direct. There was no nuance. Everything was too obvious. It was as though he didn't trust the intelligence of his reader and felt like he had to spell everything out, even spoon-feed the story to us.

A good story needs to tease us, not be laid at our feet. We need to, in a sense, work for the story, need to pay attention and "look for signs." We need to feel not just like somebody watching and listening, but we need to feel somehow involved. We want the opportunity to try to figure it out, understand its many facets, to "look into" the story, seeing through the surface into its subtle layers and even its core. 

The truth is, we don't want to know where a story is going. Even the best authors can't surprise us at every turn.

But they sure can keep us guessing.

I've got to go. I think I hear the Logline Police at my door.

Doug Herman

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