Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for September 9th, 2012

Ernest Lehman on conveying exposition

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One of the tricks is to have the exposition conveyed in a scene of conflict, so that a character is forced to say things you want the audience to know—as, for example, if he is defending himself against somebody’s attack, his words of defense seem justified even though his words are actually expository words. Something appears to be happening, so the audience believes it is witnessing a scene (which it is), not listening to expository speeches. A scene, to me, has to have some element of conflict in it or some cross-purpose. It doesn’t have to be a quarrel, but there should be some kind of tension. The most obvious are scenes involving opposing viewpoints. If it’s a two-character scene and both characters have the same goal, usually to make the scene work the goal of one has to be either slightly different or more powerful than the goal of the other. If two people are in total agreement about everything, usually there’s no scene. To answer your question, conflict is an excellent device for conveying exposition. Humor is another way of getting it across.

Ernest Lehman, interviewed by John Brady in The Craft of the Screenwriter

Written by nevalalee

September 9, 2012 at 9:50 am

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