The "Why are you only talking about this now" in fiction.

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ironpony
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26 Jul 2020, 8:36 pm

In screenwriting, you want the characters to discuss what they are doing about a situation in dialogue, so the audience can understand it, but the problem is, that the characters are discussing plans of theirs, that you think they would have gone over before.

One example, I guess would be Die Hard, where the villains, Hans and Theo, are discussing how they are going to break into the vault, but also discussing how the power is going to be shut down to help them complete their plan.

But why didn't they talk about this long before that night even? Why are they talking about it like they haven't before? So the viewers know what's going on.

Or I guess another example is Training Day. In that movie, after the villains murder a guy, they then discuss what they are going to do to cover it up. But why only go over it after the murder, instead of before?

So I am wondering how do you write it so they talk about their plan while it's already in progress, but make it seem like it's not obvious and unrealistic? Thank you for any advice or opinions though! I really appreciate it!



PhosphorusDecree
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27 Jul 2020, 9:17 am

Audiences and readers seem willing to accept a certain amount of "expository dialogue," even when it's not very realistic. I guess otherwise a heist movie would have to be about 20 hours long to cover all the planning sessions... Actually, that bugs me less than the "Who's at the door? Oh, it's your cousin Ophelia who, as you know, divorved Ben last month over his affair with Constance in Budapest..." type of dialogue. In a thriller, it's a least plausible that the boss would run through the plan one last time to make sure some idiot isn't going to muck it up!


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envirozentinel
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27 Jul 2020, 9:57 am

Some movies cover such background in flashbacks etc. to make the current events seem more realistic, and do it very well.


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27 Jul 2020, 11:12 am

PhosphorusDecree wrote:
Audiences and readers seem willing to accept a certain amount of "expository dialogue" ...
Also known as the "Data Dump".
PhosphorusDecree wrote:
... that bugs me less than the "Who's at the door? Oh, it's your cousin Ophelia who, as you know, divorved Ben last month over his affair with Constance in Budapest..." type of dialogue...
Also known as the "As You Know" or "Feather Duster" exposition, after the common practice of opening an off-Broadway play with a maid dusting the set when a phone rings: "Hello? ... Yes ... Well, as you know, Mr. Bannister is on a business trip to Istanbul, leaving his attractive young wife and her expensive jewelry with no one to guard them except the ditzy maid who leaves promptly at 4:30..."


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ironpony
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27 Jul 2020, 11:19 am

envirozentinel wrote:
Some movies cover such background in flashbacks etc. to make the current events seem more realistic, and do it very well.


Yeah that's true, I considered a flashback, but if I have to show a flashback of the planning conversation, that means that the character in the flashback will be talking to the leader, and that the reader, or audience, since it's a screenplay, will hear the leader's voice. I was hoping to keep the leader a secret, but a flashback will reveal his voice, if doesn't show him.

So I was hoping to avoid that if possible, but still somehow explain the plan. Just not sure if dialogue of them talking later, going over what you think they would have went over before, would be plausible.

Well perhaps readers can figure the situation out on their own withou a dialogue explanation. Here is the situation:

A gang of villains wants to recruit a new member. They have the new member commit a crime as a test to get to get in. The new member tries to commit a crime against a victim, but cannot go through with it morally, and gets cold feet.

The new recruit thinks the villains might kill him now, since he is now an unreliable liability, so he runs and this leads to a chase, and he ends up getting away.

Later on in the story, we see that the "victim" of the potential crime, working with the villains.
Now the readers did not understand this and said I need to explain more, but does it make sense, without explanation or is it possible to figure out?



naturalplastic
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27 Jul 2020, 12:10 pm

ironpony wrote:
envirozentinel wrote:
Some movies cover such background in flashbacks etc. to make the current events seem more realistic, and do it very well.


Yeah that's true, I considered a flashback, but if I have to show a flashback of the planning conversation, that means that the character in the flashback will be talking to the leader, and that the reader, or audience, since it's a screenplay, will hear the leader's voice. I was hoping to keep the leader a secret, but a flashback will reveal his voice, if doesn't show him.

So I was hoping to avoid that if possible, but still somehow explain the plan. Just not sure if dialogue of them talking later, going over what you think they would have went over before, would be plausible.

Well perhaps readers can figure the situation out on their own withou a dialogue explanation. Here is the situation:

A gang of villains wants to recruit a new member. They have the new member commit a crime as a test to get to get in. The new member tries to commit a crime against a victim, but cannot go through with it morally, and gets cold feet.

The new recruit thinks the villains might kill him now, since he is now an unreliable liability, so he runs and this leads to a chase, and he ends up getting away.

Later on in the story, we see that the "victim" of the potential crime, working with the villains.
Now the readers did not understand this and said I need to explain more, but does it make sense, without explanation or is it possible to figure out?


It all depends.

I assume that you want the audience to be surprised when the audience learns that the supposed victim is a plant by the gang. So I dont even know why you WANT the audience to "figure it out" prior to when the protagonist/hero gets the shock of learning it. But be that as it may.

There are ways. In my imagination this fake victim is a female. And you show a long suspence scene in which he almost attacks her, or breaks into her appartment, at some appointed time. But then he gets cold feet and leaves. And the camera cuts to the innocent looking girls apartment, and at the appointed time a bunch of nasty thugs come of the closet and say "where IS he?". And she laffs and says to this group of nasty looking hombres "I guess he fell for it and wont show". So we know that she isnt whom she appears to be because she is obviously in cahoots with the bad hombres, and the hombres report back to the gang leader that he didnt show.And like that.



ironpony
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27 Jul 2020, 1:24 pm

Oh okay, well the reader's are confused in the sense, that they do not know why the gang uses a fake victim as oppose to a real one. Is it possible to understand why these used a fake one without dialog?



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27 Jul 2020, 2:04 pm

It sounds a fine plot with a lot of exciting potential. The whole idea in most suspense is that the audience won't figure it out until later that the victim was a fake test and part of their original plan. It would be a spoiler were it known beforehand. It can perhaps be built up or hinted at during the early stages - maybe some small puzzling clue that makes the audience wonder "eh?"

It makes sense that they would use a (female?) gang member as a plant /fake crime victim and (s)he'll tell them what transpired and what (her) thoughts were. The audience won't want too many things divulged too early.


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ironpony
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27 Jul 2020, 3:09 pm

Oh okay, but so far the confusing is why use a fake victim, instead of just going after a real victim? The audience sees this as a plot hole though, because they do not see the reason why. Is it possible to figure why though?



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28 Jul 2020, 1:21 am

I'll try to think about that but I'm quite busy with my work this week so can't really commit.

the fake victim would report back to the criminals though, and rate the new recruit's "performance" to the head of the gang. Sort of like similar "job interview" tests.


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ironpony
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28 Jul 2020, 11:15 am

Oh okay, but why use a fake victim to report on that compared to just watching to see how he does on a real victim?



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30 Jul 2020, 1:57 am

There is the literary device of the flash back. Perhaps you can show a scene in your story where a discussion had already occurred in the past, or at the very least allude to it.


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envirozentinel
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30 Jul 2020, 3:40 am

ironpony wrote:
Oh okay, but why use a fake victim to report on that compared to just watching to see how he does on a real victim?


Because they would have to be hovering around somewhere, hidden but at risk of discovery on or near the scene, if a real victim is used. This way, they don't have to be anywhere around the scene as the accomplice will report back to them, whereas a real victim will only report it to the police. So it would be risky if one of the gang members was hanging around observing the incident.


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ironpony
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30 Jul 2020, 8:39 pm

Yes this is why, but readers say that that this is unrealistic and no real gang would think to have a fake victim, as it's just too elaborate. Do those readers have a point?



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30 Jul 2020, 11:18 pm

^What readers? Are these people who have read samples of your work or with whom you've shared your outlines?


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ironpony
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31 Jul 2020, 2:25 am

Yeah I have shared the script and outline with them, why?