Screenwriting : Describing very complex items by Craig D Griffiths

Craig D Griffiths

Describing very complex items

I have a very complex trap that causes injury to the person trapped. I can describe it in four lines or so. But it breaks the pace. The person is trapped during an action sequence, so I am keen to keep the action moving, rather than embarking on a product description. I have two options: 1) Introduce it early, but that may feel a bit out of place. 2) Just drop the block of text in. Anyone got a cool way of introducing complex items.

Regina Lee

It's hard to answer out of context. I generally tell people to try to compare the object to a known object. For example: "The truck is still connected to the car by the tow line, and is dunked into the river like a see-saw." That's a crappy example, but in this case, hopefully the "see-saw" imagery shortcuts the description of the mechanism.

Dan Guardino

Don't try. Just paint a broad picture with as few words as possible and let the reader use their imagination to fill in the rest. Just my opinion.

Craig D Griffiths

Unfortunately it is an important element. The Apache had a very violent foot snare. A branch is tied in a loop. A second loops is made from another branch. Sharpened sticks are tied to the outer ring and held in place by the smaller inner ring. A person's foot falls through the hole, the spikes flex down. They then spring back into place by the inner loop, impaling the person leg. Very specific and kind of critical to the story. Could probably refine the description into about three lines. I am thinking of having the villain prep one in an earlier scene to explain it. But that is like having someone clean their gun. We all know he is going to shot someone. I was hoping to keep the leg snare as a surprise for the victim and the reader. What do people think of this? Have the snare tripped and explain it in action "Sara looks down to see a snare made of stick and twine protruding from her leg, blood flows freely". Then later when she is trying to get it off her leg go into slightly more detail. Which is kind of the way we may process this information. Look down, see injury, escape, figure out what the hell happened.

Sue Lange

It should be explained earlier, in a conversation perhaps so it won't feel out of place. Maybe a parent is teaching a child about the trap and it's part of a larger conversation. It won't stand out so much then and at the same time the details can be included so later when you show the action, people will remember in a wonderful, uncomfortable way.

Craig D Griffiths

Thanks Sue. Unfortunately these are the last two people on earth. I have made my own life hard.

Craig D Griffiths

Hi Patricia, the other person is the trap maker. They are fighting over the last resources. A fight to the death over a caravan as winter approaches.

Shelley Stuart

You're on the right track; just keep it to what Sara would see at the time. She's going to look down and see sticks protruding and blood flowing. Most of your audience won't know what this is, but you can drop a hint to the reader. "Sara looks down to see sticks protruding from her leg, blood flows freely... she's stepped into a trap." As she moves, she'll learn what happens, and so will your viewers.

Andrew Bruce Lockhart

stick to broad brush strokes as has been said... for me I'd probably look at how important the trap itself is to the story or character development and be ruthless about it... does it develop either.... if it doesn't and its more about the person being injured or the threat of it or whatever - then focus on that...

Craig D Griffiths

Thanks everyone. I know how to execute it now. Just need to talk these things through sometimes.

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