By Craig Kellem
In our recent article WHO SAYS THAT YOU CANT TELL THE DIRECTOR WHAT TO DO , we fervently encourage writers to use stage directions to enhance scenes via use of body language (they lock eyes, her hands start to tremble, sweat begins to form on his brow, etc).
Another technique to utilize in this arena is known as LAYERING.
Layering simply means adding an action component to an otherwise static scene. Heres an example: lets say that you HAVE to write a scene in which two guys have a conversation in a bar. As a savvy writer, you already realize that youre starting off with one arm tied behind your back. After all, talking heads and exposition does not usually make great entertainment.
You need to come up with an angle.
So you decide to have these lads play a killer game of pool as they chat. In the tradition of The Color of Money and The Hustler, they play like its going out of style. The subtext is clear-- whos the biggest, baddest cat?
The game itself is exciting; nip and tuck right to the very end. The moves are hot, the competition thick. Theres a sense that theres much more at stake underneath it all. During the game, as they light up their butts, sip their drinks, and chalk their sticks, they espouse the info that they needed to convey to begin with. The repartee comes almost as afterthoughts, spurts here and there, and is completely subordinated by the pool game.
The scene is a winner. Everyone thinks its about the competition, you know it was totally about the needed exposition.
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