1. Kutuup
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    Kutuup New Member

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    Other ways of displaying strong emotion?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kutuup, Sep 16, 2010.

    Hey,

    I'm writing a screenplay for a movie, but I have a problem with one of the characters, she goes through a number of very emotional scenes, but the only response she ever shows is to just cry!

    This results in her crying for over half the film!

    What other ways can a character display strong emotion?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really hope that's only really tragic things that have been making her cry. :p If she's crying at ANY strong emotion, you might want to really consider taking some time out to see how people work in general... :p

    Anyway, it really depends on the character. Does she get angry? Laugh hysterically? Deny everything? Leap into action? Bottle things up? Each one is a whole new direction to take her in. And probably all better than constant crying. Urgh. :p
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    A lot of the time, the way the actor depicts the emotion will be entirely up to him/her, and the director, not the script. You don't need to give the 's/he cries' in your scenario, just the words they say.
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    You do not say what emotions she is going through. People can cry when they are happy - Mother of the bride at the wedding.
    There are many ways to portray emotions. Anger, violence, verbal abuse, unnatural silence, smashing things up, to name a few.

    However it is my understanding that when writing a play (I imagine it is the same for a screenplay) It is the playwrights job to provide a story through the dialogue. It is up to the actor and director to decide how to interprate thoses words on the stage/screen.

    Once you hand over your play to a director it is out of your hands.

    So I would not spend any time on discibing their emotions.
     
  5. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Well, that's not a lot of information to formulate an answer on, except for generalities.

    If the title of your movie is "Tears from the soul" maybe it is appropriate.

    If your movie is intended to be a "Chick Flick", that category of film usually involves a great deal of talking, hugging and crying, as the characters involved rarely attempt to resolve any of the problems, but rather seem only interested in venting or getting issues off their chest (as opposed to "Guy Flicks" which usually involve Bruce Willis, machine guns and stuff blowing up as a way of dealing with issues), it may also be appropriate.

    If these emotional scenes are not all the same emotion, such as her frustration at always being victimized, you can go through the range: Anger, Denial, Fear or the ever popular quiet, narrow eyed, tight lipped revenge plotting.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't just write 'she cries'... as noted above, that's up to the actor and director...

    your job as the writer is to give her things to do and say that will make it clear to the audience what she's feeling and how she deals with whatever might make her cry...

    do that and leave facial expressions, etc. up to those who're paid to decide on such things...
     
  7. Kutuup
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    Kutuup New Member

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    She does display other emotions, namely violence, denial and tranferrence, she becomes angry too, her response to one particular event is crying, but unfortunately this one event is referenced numerous times.

    To give some context, the film is a psychological drama about a girl who was raped as a child.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you still don't have to have her cry every time she recalls the trauma... that wouldn't even be realistic... fyi, most victims of childhood rape bury the memory, or pretend it didn't happen...
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is also avoidance. The character steers conversations away from sensitive topics.
     
  10. Whiskeysoldier
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    Whiskeysoldier New Member

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    Related to what Cogito said, often the most effective scenes of strong emotion are those that subvert our expectations.

    We've all seen a million characters crying when they're up against the wall, emotionally. You could consider having your character avoid the common ways of displaying sadness, rage, etc., by deflecting either the source of the pain or the superficial object/person that is currently triggering the emotion. The character can deflect them both verbally and physically.

    I personally find that, in film, the most harrowing emotional scenes are those that find a way to showcase what is an intensely strong feeling in a character by conveying it through uncommon methods. There is something to be said for a big, bombastic crying scene (provided it is written and performed well), but the subtlest substituting action or line can often blow it out of the water, and strike an audience far deeper in the end.
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Crying is a passive action. A way of venting, but it solves nothing. Your character is likely overly passive. Make her attempt to solve her problems and the audience will follow.

    The most heartful scenes in my oppinion are those where characters do something seemingly unrelated or even senseless, but you KNOW why they're really doing it.

    In the first Bridget Jones movie, I don't really recall her crying, despite how incredibly desperate she was. She was constantly doing things that made the problem worse because she couldn't accept herself, but she didn't go "Boohoo, nobody will ever love me."
     
  12. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    I could do with some other ways of showing frustration, particularly quick, passing frustration. After the character has growled, gritted his teeth and rolled his eyes, there's not really much else to do.

    There's obviously other ways to construct a scene like that, and I don't think I need to find other ways to write it, but I'd just be interested in hearing anyone's ideas?
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I think it depends entirely on who the character is and what they're frustrated at. Every reaction should portray personality, not just the emotion in isolation.
     
  14. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any scene can be played with any intention.

    For example, we can all imagine how to dish dished in different manners. Seductively, in frustration, in controlled anger, while in a rage, sad and distantly, happily etc.

    A multitude of small word en gestures in how the character does something, whatever that something are will show the characters strong feelings.

    Edit: In my example you could convay the emotion in how the character handles the glass, puts things away, dries the dish, splashes water around, how the dishing sounds, if the character hums while dishing etc.
     
  15. sereda008
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    sereda008 Senior Member

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    There is always anger lurking behind sadness. If the sadness will not come, there is a pretty large chance that in a really dramatic moment your character might jump around hacking everyone with a kitchen knife. Revenge might be your solution!
     
  16. Lee Shelly
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    Lee Shelly Member

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    What are the other people doing in any of these scenes? if she is moved to the point of tears by these interactions, is the other person just letting her cry? If you're at the point where all she seems to be doing is crying, have your other characters break her out of it. Talk. Make her laugh, either with humor or without. Have them make her angry. Make her respond with words, rather than actions. And if tears are the only way she reacts, never let her get to that point. Interrupt the action right before that point. Be subtle about it.
     
  17. clz
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    clz New Member

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    Sometimes people get caught up in conveying feeling with violence or tears because that's the most intense... but there is a lot to be said about quiet emotions. Staring. Clenched fists.
     
  18. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    As an actor, I find that crying is usually far less effective than more subtle emotional reactions. A sense of barely-controlled, quite tension can be chilling, while crying usually ends up looking superficial. Same goes for anger. The more subtle, the better.
     
  19. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I totally agree with your point about crying but I feel compelled to disagree with your point about Bridget Jones. The biggest "boohoo, nobody will ever love me" in this history of movies was when Renee Zellwegger sat in her pyjamas, wailing the lyrics of "All By Myself" by Celine Dion....!!!
     
  20. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    I don't know if it'll help you but my (though male, but also with an abusive past) character starts speaking with a heavily french (his native language, althoug he now speaks english as his first language) accent when emotions are running high, other than that he hardly shows any emotions, but the more heavy the accent gets, the more tense/emotional he is.

    This way you don't have someone crying the entire time, but can still show others how stressed the character is. Ofcourse it can be any kind of quirks, like shaking hands, stuttering etc.
     
  21. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    This is where body language becomes very important. With a screenplay, you will have to rely heavily on the actor's ability to portray these emotions. So focus on what she's doing with her body while she cries. Does she scream? Does she cover her mouth? Does she collapse into a sobbing heap? Does she hug herself? It helps if we know what emotion she is feeling, because there are many reasons to cry. Is she scared? Angry? Grieving?
     

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