Saturday, January 22, 2011

And When You Get to the End...

Can you name that quote? It's from Disney's Alice in Wonderland (I have no idea if it's in the actual book). I love the quote! More people ought to use the concept! Including me!

I'll set the stage: It's the tea party with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. Alice is supposed to tell them her story or problem or something (I haven't watched the movie in awhile; maybe I'll do that later). And Alice "hardly knows where to start." Hare says, "Start at the beginning." Mad Hatter adds, "And when you get to the end...Stop."

Have you read books that just go into a few too many details? I'm busy thinking, okay, okay, get to the good stuff. But for some reason authors must have x amount of pages or words. It doesn't matter that the story has actually come to an end; go back--let's put in 1.5 pages of the meal. Notice I didn't say feast. Some stories are delicious with their descriptions of the feast; the feast must stay. I'm talking about the 1.5-page description of a plain meal. I believe most authors go back and remove lots of material that make the story bog down. Thank goodness--I'd hate to slog through the uncut version (including mine). But then you have the successful authors who have made themselves (or been made to) edit their first three books to a manageable size. But, by dang, now that we're famous we're not cutting out anything in the next five books! My writer's critique group friend often points out, "There's 100 pages of story in 300 pages."

To quote another movie: "Skip to the end."*

Then there's some people I know (okay, fine. including me). Who can't just ask a simple question. If they, for instance, want to know what time it is, they'll launch into why they have no watch, followed by what happened to their cell phone which they could have used as the watch, topping off the preface to the question with the observation of no clocks in the room. The other day she-who-shall-not-be-named was telling something to her son--have no idea how we got on the topic--but 30 minutes later, her son asks, "Why are you telling me all this?" She replied, "It's plot exposition; it has to go somewhere."** She-who-shall-not-
be-named failed to stop at the end.

In my most recent scriptwriting session--which is right now and I'm using the blog as a WMP***---I actually finished the script at a decent hour last night. BUT THERE WERE TOO FEW PAGES! I know how long it takes to perform one page of dialogue, and I had to have more show! Into the middle of the night (yay, electricity), I managed to grate out five more pages. And I f
inished the script for the second time. The damage was not too bad. The script still flowed okay; the characters just got a tad more verbose and they had another little adventure. I NEED 5. MORE. PAGES. The story is over. I want to stop. I can't. I must have more running time on the script. Oh, the agony! When will it stop?!****

*Princess Bride
**The Great Muppet Caper
***Weapon of Mass Procrastination
****Obviously not at the end

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