Let’s go to the video tape.
Ok, so it’s Tuesday, and the short has been up for a while. (https://deanbradley.net/2020/02/14/run-to-daylight/) Here’s my breakdown of some of the things I was experimenting with on this one.
First, the dialogue. I eliminated as many dialogue tags as humanly possible while still keeping speakers straight. Fortunately, that was easy in this one, because I either had radio dialogue where speakers could introduce themselves (I retained real world “you, this is me” format), or the speakers were differentiated by their thickly accented English. I feel like this worked pretty well, feel free to disagree in the comments. Seriously, I want to know.
Second, character descriptions. I kept them very sparse, intentionally, and I didn’t always put them up front. I don’t think I actually described a single one of the enemy mooks beyond his posture or behavior. I’m less sure about this one. I think it may have been ok for a short, but in a novel I’d go more descriptive. I also think that, while I wouldn’t just put a stat block at every introduction, I would try to keep descriptions close to intros so that readers aren’t revising mental images halfway into a book. I also didn’t tell you where they were, but between the geography and some of the clues, I expect some of you figured it out. The novel will definitely tell you where characters are, at least when they know.
Third, names. I put a lot of thought into who called whom what name at what point in the story. This is definitely something I do even more of in the novel. Names convey a lot of information, and how you’re known to different people says a lot about you and your relationship with them. Full name with formal titles? Familiar first name? Affectionate nickname? Respectful title only? Familiar but respectful short title? “You asshole?” All show different relationships, and sometimes different circumstances.
Fourth, extremely limited editing and revision. This short was basically a first draft with one editorial pass by me in an exhausted stupor, and a couple of beta readers pointing out a couple of typos. That’s definitely not happening with the novel, I am polishing that one down with the ultra fine grit before it goes out the door.
Finally, (at least for now, I may remember more later), the mechanical stuff. This short was composed entirely on a smartphone, directly in the WordPress app. The phone thing, I might do more of. WordPress? Nah, bro. It would hang, making me question whether inputs had been received. It would jack up my autocorrect for some reason. And the formatting still blows (the one thing I had hoped direct composition would fix). Definitely prefer Word, Google Docs, or Zoho over it.
Comments are encouraged, here or on Twitter. And this time, I end not with a song, but with a bit of motivational speech:
You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that’s… part of life. But you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
They’re in every break of the game. Every minute, every second.
On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the fuckin’ difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!
– Al Pacino as Coach Tony D’Amato, Any Given Sunday