I finally got around to seeing one movie that I've been dying to see, Buried. I'm a big Ryan Reynolds fan, but that's not the point. I really wanted to see this based on the premise. It's about a guy that's been kidnapped over in Iraq and held for ransom. Okay, so that's not that different? But, the entire movie takes place in a coffin. For 90 minutes all you see is the things that are happening to Reynolds. He has a phone, alcohol, lighter, numerous (coloured) torches, knife and pens.
A movie that's only got one visual actor (the rest are voices over the phone), it needs to be able to tell the story some way and I absolutely loved Chris Sparling's script. So, what does this have to do with how the story's revealed? Even though movies are pretty much all show because they're up on the screen and you're watching the action unfold, it's still the fact that he's stuck in a coffin, so the viewer needs to find out what's happened and all the background story over the phone.
This movie is a great example of how to do small snippets of backstory in the dialogue without seeming like exposition.
As writers, we have an entire backstory created for the character that we really can't just put in big blocks of writing. So, how do you choose how to reveal that story?
- Reveal snippets in dialogue
This is the easiest way, as long as it flows naturally and doesn't seem like the character is just talking about their life because it's needs to be said.
The easiest way would be to go back to the part of history that you need to describe of the character.
- Memories from items
Characters could find an item, diary or even a place that might bring out that memory. Still this needs to show the relevance to the story that you're creating.
- Is it important?Before you actually tell the reader of the backstory, you must decide whether it's actually important. Will the reader gain a better understanding of the character or their motivations? Does it reveal a hint about the ending? Or is it just a fascinating tidbit that you love? The last question probably means that you don't need to tell the reader of it.