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June 13, 1999: all you want is something good


I'm probably stretching the term "plot hole" in my review of the Phantom Menace, but I think it's fair to want a single term that means "a place where the plot goes unconvincingly"--either because it's internally inconsistent, because it relies grossly on luck, or because characters are totally unrealistically motivated.

I'm just going to keep calling all of these things "plot holes", since I lack an appropriate term.

One of the things I've been doing to learn about screenwriting is downloading lots of screenplays--mostly to movies I've seen--and reading through them. Very useful to see how things are put together, to see what it left to the director and what's not.

Very useful, also, to follow the plot much more clearly than in a movie. You don't miss any lines of dialogue. Sometimes things are just much more obvious in screenplay form. sex, lies, and videotape worked for me a lot better as a screenplay. Partly this might be because it would have worked better had I seen it a second time. Partly it might be because of the actual performances in the film bringing down the material. Partly it's because it's always clear from the moment you meet them who the characters are and how they relate to each other. It's supposed to be obvious from the voice-overs that John is Ann's husband, but it's spelled out in the screenplay (she mentions John, and he's referred to in the screenplay as John even though nobody calls him by name). Sure, in the movie you figure that's who he is, but you have to spend a while thinking I think that's who it is, which rather breaks the suspension of disbelief.

Mainly, though, I've noticed how easy it is to find plot holes. Pretty much every screenplay I've downloaded, there's a plot hole or some sort of flaw. Here's a bunch of examples; note that these are screenplays that don't necessarily represent the final product; the scenes may have been changed or cut:

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attribution dammit: It's Not Safe Aimee Mann