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I'm trying to figure out the best way to show a projector showing clips like key events over a lifetime. I'm thinking a montage with some dialogue, but I'm not certain that's the correct way.

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    Hi, welcome to Writing|SE. Your question is unclear. Is this a screenplay? A novel? You have tagged 'formatting', but people are answering as if you have writer's block. A little more information on what the actual problem is might help.
    – wetcircuit
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 23:02
  • @wetcircuit The question seems clear enough to me. OP wants to write a scene where a projector shows one image after another in a slideshow. The question OP has is: What is the correct way to write such a scene? As that would be one sentence in a screenplay ("A projector shows a slideshow of key events over John's lifetime.") it must be prose.
    – user55858
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 5:34
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    Possibly related: writing.stackexchange.com/a/27090/23253
    – wetcircuit
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 10:27
  • You're not really providing enough detail. Who are the slides being shown to and by? If something is in a classroom with a lot of chatty students, it's going to be very different to the case where something is shown to a single person or nobody at all. It will also depend on who is doing the narration. And are you interested in a specific technical aspect, or do you want more general advice on how to structure the scene?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 12:52

2 Answers 2

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Avoid thinking about challenges with storytelling as having correct or incorrect solutions

Rather, think about solutions as more or less effective given the story being told. Some approaches that work terrifically in one story might not work well for others. The medium is also important, but that is a whole other topic. Briefly stated, stuff that works great for video and film may not work well when writing.

That said, if this "projector showing clips like key events over a lifetime," is a short scene or even chapter, then a equal mix of POV character reaction, narrative text, and dialogue could be an effective approach to creating an immersive moment. Mostly, I imagine focusing on the POV character's thoughts and observations to set the stakes as well as the character's hopes and fears about what they are about to be involved in.

If, on the other hand, this is more of a Clarence the Angel getting briefed on George Bailey in the first hour of "It's a wonderful life" kind of thing, then it seems using the content on the screen as a framing device to segue to a flashback would be an effective solution. In the flashbacks, you get the bonus of being able to share the scene from a different character than the POV character watching the presentation. And, that could get really interesting.

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User52445 is correct, for the most part...

This is up to you, as the author.

There is no correct way, but it would be criminal if I didn't at least offer a suggestion: describe every slide in detail. It doesn't have to be a whole lot, just enough for your readers to understand. Try a test audience! That's always a good way to see how well you've done something.

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