Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"Less is More"

From a review I posted today of a new story by Ross Mahler, who gave us An Explosion of Subtext:


“Mahler’s economical use of words in the action lines may very well be more effective than anyone else, including myself, I hate to admit...


“Consider the opening scene: Chinatown, New York City, a place that really needs no introduction. Just by saying, 'Chinatown,' the visuals are already forming in our mind's eye, and you just KNOW (without needing to be told) that the opening shot will be a visual feast. Many amateurs, however, would've weighed down page one of their scripts with VOLUMES of needless details about every little nitpicky thing we would've seen. Ross is a craftsman. He gives us only TWO action paragraphs both TWO LINES each. Actually, they're not even two full lines - more like a line and a half.

“And those two action paragraphs contain very carefully chosen details that are essential to his story - the statue of the Chinese Emperor, the XXX-rated peep show and the Asian women, which gives you the sense that we're entering the more seedy side of Chinatown, and THAT WAS IT. After that, we dive right into Chance's interaction with the Hustler. This is what everyone means when they say 'less is more.' Good job, Ross. When it works, when it's really effective, good craftsmanship like this is usually overlooked and under-appreciated. And that's fine by me. As far as I'm concerned, nobody else needs to be in on our little secret about how effective we're being in our scriptwriting.”

2 comments:

miriamp said...

I'm always trying to tell people this. Perhaps I should elaborate.

But no. Less IS more.

Mystery Man said...

Or you can just copy and past me! (No one will know, and I certainly won't complain.) Hehehe...

-MM