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Writing the Short Film, 3rd Edition by Ken Dancyger, Patricia Cooper

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13

The Melodrama

Perhaps it’s best to start this chapter with a bit of fact and fiction about melodrama. First the fiction.

Over the years, the term melodrama has increasingly taken on a negative implication. It is associated with soap opera, exclusively with romantic women’s stories, and with a dramatic device best characterized as exaggeration (as opposed to realism, or a story that is simply more believable). Although all of the above has a hint of truth, each is too narrow an approach to melodrama and keeps us away from the usefulness of melodrama as a form.

Turning to the “truth” about melodrama, what then do we mean by the term? A good starting point is to suggest that melodrama at its most basic concerns itself with stories that are essentially ...

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