10 screenwriting "hmm" moments


wtf_red_question_markMax’s Dictionary of Screenwriting Hmm Moments:  “Hmmm” = A moment reading a script when a reader stops on a dime and says, WTF?

A Few of Those Moments —

1.  The pilot of a passenger jet liner rolls down the cockpit window.  [For double credit, while flying.  For triple?  It’s not a passenger jet. It’s a submarine.]

2.  Someone whips out a cell phone.  In WWII Germany.

3.  Someone’s picking strawberries.  From a tree.  In a pine forest.

4.  INT.  DESK — DAY  [For double credit, recreate at random using INT.  TABLE — DAY || INT. WOOD BLOCK — DAY.  And your protagonists are not termites.]

5.  Someone’s doing a Google search.  In 1950.  On an iPhone.

6.  Doctors in an emergency room whip out defibrillator paddles.  To treat a concussion.  [For double credit, it’s a broken leg.  For triple?  She’s having a baby!]

7.  Intravenously shooting up marijuana leaves….

8.  Human beings without helmets or suits jump about.  In an outer space vacuum.

9.  People struggle with the safety.  On a Glock.

10.  People collect chicken eggs.  On a farm.  In a stable.


[I guarantee you the big fight here will be on chickens laying eggs in stables.  Shhh.  I will tell you why later.]



10 Responses to 10 screenwriting “hmm” moments

  1. terpcj

    The Glock thing would have tripped me up except for the fact that when I put one in a script, I researched it. I learned long ago that only people with expertise in a story element get to skip the research part about that story element (and maybe not even then). Responsible Internet use is a great writer’s resource. Irresponsible Internet use is a fantastic procrastination rationalization.

  2. Yup… I want to hear more about # 10.

  3. Max

    You will have to ask a question if you want an answer to a question.

  4. Okay… So why can’t chickens be in a stable? Not that I’m that concerned about it — but I read (someone’s opinion that chickens would be fine in a stable with horses…) Not begging for a fight — just curious why it’s a problem in a script.

  5. Max

    Chickens “can be” in a stable. Chickens “can be” in the kitchen or in a pickup truck or in a tree — basically anywhere you let them roam about. If, however, you plan to regularly collect eggs from chickens, you generally establish a chicken coop and nests you can easily locate each time you go looking for eggs. And anyone writing about farm life should probably know that. So it’s a context thing. Why is a fifth generation farmer hunting for chicken eggs in a horse stall?

  6. Max

    You don’t really care about that answer, you’re just asking to be contrary, right?

  7. I sincerely wanted to know the answer. Thank you. (wasn’t trying to be contrary — just wanted to know so I can avoid similar mistakes.)

  8. Max

    Well, it is going to be farm specific. There are different types of farms. They operate different ways. The key word is research.

  9. When I was a kid we had a farm with rebel chickens. They oft times laid their eggs away from the coop. Of course, we chased them around a lot so they were probably traumatized. :)

  10. Max

    {{{rebel chickens}}}

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