Show Don’t Tell

I + Love + You. Three words that can be pretty weighty in succession. But then again, are they ever really enough?

Would we believe in Forrest’s love for Jenny if he’d professed it once, then lounged on his couch eating cheetos and collecting unemployment checks for the rest of forever? No. No way. We needed to see him punch-out her boyfriends. To run across the country. And to wait patiently for her chaotic life of drugs and hippie-sex to come to a screeching STD-riddled halt.

When he said, “I love you,” we believed him. Because we knew the words were true well before they came out of his mouth.

Same was true of the Tramp, who boxed his way into the heart of the Blind Flower Girl in City Lights. Or the childlike Edward Scissorhands, who assumed the role of town pariah per instruction of Winona Ryder. Hell, the charm of Amelie was the fact that her infatuation was never stated outright. The whole movie was a series of elaborately planned gestures of love. A show of an emotion so BIG, it couldn’t possibly be tamed with words.

He's a lover, not a fighter.

Fighting for the one he loves… One hug at a time.

It’s true in the movies. And it’s true in real-life too. Because what is sex? A primal display of a feeling? The body’s way of showing love? Some might say it’s an extreme alcohol-inspired lowering of standards, but I digress.

Action, more than words, is essential for just about anything. Case in point:

I’m an astronaut.

You believe me, right? I mean, I did SAY it. So it must be true. Right?! Of course it is! So come on, fork over the paycheck. Move it, buddy. I’ve got planets to hop and people to see.

Hell no. Unless I’m wearing a space suit and touting a fancy schmancy NASA ID badge, I’m delusional.

Our dreams won’t define us until we live them. Nothing is really real until the world sees it. Furthermore, society’s all about boxes. Which is why we’re not actors without a stage. We’re not writers without a page. In the end, we’re not anything until the world catches us doing it.

So what are you waiting for? Get in!

So what are you waiting for? Get in!

This is partly why we find certain fictional characters so compelling. They live lives we don’t, and make the sort of choices we’d like to think we could make. Hard choices. Things like: should I blow up the other boat? Or just hope they don’t blow up mine?

All things I will consider when I bully my characters. Because, when push comes to shove, they are who I hope to be.

Back to my script. 50+ pages and still crawling to the end.

See y’all next week!

And in the meantime, here’s some more fun reading material:

A Fellow Writer’s Homage to Pulp Fiction

A Beautifully Written Post About Giving Yourself (And Your Characters) A Break

Quick Quote About Film As a Projection of Human Experience

Getting Started As a Screenwriter

Storytellers, Are You TV or Film? Also Details The Impact of China In Modern Movie Market


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