1. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stage direction (bad)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hubardo, Apr 3, 2015.

    I've never heard of the term stage direction. I was reading this article about stuff not to do in writing, and this stood out:

    #2 Stage Direction

    She reached out her arm to open the door.

    Okay, unless she has mind powers and telekinesis, do we need the direction?

    He turned to go down the next street.

    He picked up the oars and pulled a few more strokes, eager to get to his favorite fishing spot.

    We “get” he’d have to pick up the oars to row his boat, or that is a seriously cool trick.

    Be active. Characters can “brush hair out of their face” “open doors” and even slap people without you telling us they reached out an arm or hand to do this. We are smart. Really.

    I guess I use stage direction too much. Good to know. I'll try not to. I'm thinking of Murakami though, and although I don't have any text ready to show as example, I think he uses it (or his translator does) a lot. Sometimes I think I like it as... filler? To slow the pace?

    What do you think?
     
  2. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I probably do this too much. For example, if one character turns away from another because she's upset with him, is that too much? Or should I, instead, write about the wall she's now facing.
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there are times when the clarity is needed, but overall, it seems worth avoiding.

    You have to pay attention to the rhythm of the sentences, of course. Maybe that's what you're seeing in Murakami? Although, assuming you're reading his works in translation (I've always assumed he writes in Japanese, but I guess I don't know for sure) the patterns could be an element of the translation process, as well.
     
  4. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for sharing. I've gotten more into script writing, which emphasizes a low word count, and being cognizant of stuff like this is important.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I call this marionetting. Pulling every string of the character as though they were a puppet. There are times when this kind of focus is reasoned and purposefully. Those times are rare, indeed. ;)
     

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