Don't bring a knife to a gunfight! Unless your Harrison Ford...cause nobody touches my Indie.
So here we all are. Writers and readers—not all of us write, but all of us read. Fitting, since this blog is for readers.
I also know we all watch television. Well almost all of us. One exception is a friend of mine—never in his life has he owned a television set, so with this eccentric’s exception, we all watch television programs and films.
Enhance your calm; I do have a point.
See, in the cinema and television world, cut-rate producers all have a trick, an editorial advice that allows them to skip through parts of the story. It is fairly simple and quite effective even if it is annoying. It is called, cut-to-black, a blank sequence that usually functions as a plot-time machine, and is used often.
It is implicitly understood that after a cut to black sequence time has moved forward and scenes has changed. It is used in low budget and experimental theatre universally. TV shows like Teen Wolf used it a lot during the first season. This editorial device is used because it saves money, not because leaving loads of the story undeveloped is a good thing. Once the producers know they have a hit show, their budgets increase and they have the time and money to drop this shortcut by giving the viewing public what they crave—flow of story. Some of you might not notice this technique. Its overuse drives me nuts. It is cheap. It is a shortcut and it short-changes the audience.
Here is my point: In writing you have no better example of cut to black than these two words - and then - . . .urgh! It drives me bonkers. It is laziness. It is not a movement or time indicator, it does not advance the plot. It is therefore not a plot device. If you feel the need to cut-to-black, that’s a wrap for that chapter. Start another one. Nine-and-a-half times in ten it means the writer has written the plot into a corner and of a burning house and is using the chimney to escape.
To be cliché and proud about it, it’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight because knives don’t shoot and you have one shot. Now go back to your WiP. Do the find and replace thing in Word. Find those dark vortexes of time—and then—and kill them. Print does not have a musical soundtrack to keep your audience under your spell. Do not gamble. Put down the knife and pickup the gun. You only get one shot at building a following. Do not cut-to-black.