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story Don't have characters discuss what we just saw (unless they add something new)


Staff Member
This is something that I see frequently, including in a screenplay for which I'm currently providing feedback. It goes something like this.

Ext. Alley - Night
Joe sprints down the alley with Stan right behind him. He turns the corner, spies an open door, slips inside. Stan runs right by the door.

Int. Bar - Night
How did you lose him?

I was damn lucky! There was a door open and I stepped inside. He wasn't more than a foot away when he ran by.


This type of scene usually goes on much longer than this, but that's the general idea.

We just SAW (ok, read) what happened. This will flow better and keep your script tight if you join the scene between Joe and Judy AFTER he tells her what we already know. Pick it up with what he found when he stepped inside the door, or the fact that it smelled like bbq, or who was in the store where he found himself, etc.
Nice point! I usually try to have characters discussing stuff that either we're going to see, or we're watching right now. For example: when someone speaks about a past action and we see it while he narrates, by means of a flashback.

I'm going to relate this to John Wick, is the first example that came to my mind and I let you know in case someone hasn't seen the films yet and want no spoilers - I definitely encourage you to watch the trilogy!

In the first movie, a couple of characters said twice or more that John Wick is able to kill a man with a pencil, but you don't get to actually see this action until the second movie.

If the director showed this in the first scene of the first movie and then had characters speaking about it, the audience probably would get bored like "yeah, he killed someone with a pencil, we already saw it". Nevertheless, the way it was done made the audience expect this action, and when it actually happened, the reaction was more like "We finally saw him doing it!".

Such a DIFFERENT way of driving your audience through the story!

You don't need two movies to create this kind of expectation, not even an hour of film. No matter it's a saga, a single movie, or just a short film for YouTube, the structure of your script is really important!