Friday, September 08, 2006

The Perils of a 2-hr Cable Movie Slot

Back when it first aired a couple of weeks ago, I watched Dragonsword on SciFi. And it was pretty good, except for the fact that it really needed at least another half hour to connect plot elements a bit better. It was sad to see a good movie with good acting and good writing that suffered because they tried to cram it all into 90 minutes or less. If you blinked, you missed a transition. If you coughed, you missed vital information explaining why certain characters were doing certain things. If you yawned (not because the movie was boring, but because you might actually be tired from chasing an eleven-month old), you missed Val Kilmer's thirty-second cameo.

What was left was a movie that felt like a bare bones outline with none of the padding that actually carries you from scene to scene or moves you in and out of arcs. I've seen this very often in the drafts that folks bring in to my critique group on their first visit. It's easy to get caught up in the "then this happens, and then this happens" of plot and story, trying to hit major drama moments or big juicy bits of conflict. But if you don't give the in between bits, then you don't set up the drama or the conflict effectively, if at all.

Still, Dragonsword was pretty well written despite it's obvious time constraints. It made me wonder what the first draft of that screenplay looked like, or if it was a case of a writer not understanding the need for fleshing out an outline. And it also gave me a mental note of what I need to be looking for when I revise my stories. Always good, that.


Joel said...

Is that the movie where the princess or female lead protects the baby dragon?

Kellie said...