Moving targets

As a reader, one often gets scripts in which an eager writer has specified the brand, and even the particular model, of every prop, car, electronic device and beverage touched by the protagonist. Here's a note to my fellow writers: don't do this.

First, unless the writer gives equal attention to character and plot details – which the people who write this sort of thing never do, preferring to use brands as a kind of hip shorthand – the script starts to resemble a catalog. Readers do not recommend catalogs for further development.

Second, though brand specificity shows that the writer has an "eye for marketing" – guess who else has an eye for marketing? Marketing departments. Though they might appreciate plot-important phones, cars and beverages, they aren't particularly fond of limited options.

Third – and this is the big one no one seems to think of – unless the writer is willing to track down every copy of the script every three months and update all the model names and numbers, that hip shorthand quickly deteriorates. Phones and bar orders that seemed cutting edge when the script was written, cause the reader to sneeringly check the copyright date a few months down the line. Consumer cool is an ever-moving target. Phones come and go, but well written character arcs, thorny choices and intriguing flaws are forever.

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