“Make every word count.”
It’s a phrase that all screenwriters will be familiar with, spending hours toiling over how to now cut away at the chunky first draft. But while our extraneous words may just flatten a story and bore prospective readers, those in the field of live commentary stand on thinner ice.
The Olympic Games in Rio are well underway, with millions of eyes and ears on the sports in Brazil. And even though our event narrators do not have the benefit of reading from a script (with the exception of some handy statistical reports), the ability to vocally explain unpredictable live action for hours on end comes with the perilous risk of “words for words’ sake”. For example:
“The springboard, which is exactly that – a board with springs.” – Gymnastics
There are two types in use at the Olympics, but that’s for another day. And another site.
“Let’s look at the scoreboard, which could provide the all-important score tonight.” – Basketball
With so many people watching, maybe there’s no need. Somebody’s counting.
”Uzbekistan – a country that could not be any more landlocked.” – Judo
This refers to the fact that it is the only country to be landlocked by other landlocked countries. But does this effect their duelling abilities?
“Here’s USA and Chris Brooks, who is about an inch short of the national average.” – Gymnastics
The judges will be making deductions on that basis.
“And here comes the Belarusian team. All of them. Apart from two.” – Rowing, Fours
You could also say there was nobody there, apart from two.
Leonid Pasternak’s Throes of Creation
It’s easy to mock from 5,000 miles away. Writers, you know better.
Say something or nothing. Not anything.