Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Webshow: Technobabble is bad drama

When writing a science-fiction film, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing you can get away with any sort of magic technology because the entire world is completely invented anyway. In this video, I try to illustrate why that's bad drama.


  1. Puppet, You were quite intense in this latest video. So much so that the stack of scipts to your left was shaking. Tone it down a notch.

    Other than that, I like you. Hoping there's a missus puppet in your life. I know from my own expecience how lonely it can be in the ol' sock drawer all by yourself.

  2. Do you think the "Internet" is becoming a trendy plot device again? Once upon a time, in the golden age of Hackers and The Net, the Inter-net was a magical device and writers got away with technobabble on the regular. Now I feel like I've begun to see the Inter-net pop up again as a popular plot device in the horror or thriller genre...usually in the vein of identity theft or stalking.

    Is it just me? Has anyone else noticed that trend?

    FYI, the best/most realistic use of the internet in recent memory was the first episode of Breaking Bad when Walt's wife gives him a handjob while watching an eBay auction close.

  3. A rule from Pixar: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of trouble are cheating. Same thing, arguably, with the technological.

    Maybe that's one of the reasons that technology is almost always shown negatively in sci-fi, because if it was all about how great the tech was, it would feel like a cheat.

    btw, a list of Pixar rules are here:

  4. It boils down to this rule:


    If you use techno babble, you have to explain how it works and your hero should solve his problem within the limits of these rules. Otherwise, it's a deus ex machina.

  5. I am loving this blog. Never thought of sci-fi deus ex machina as being akin to fantasy "abracadabrs" but it's true and as a lover of sci-fi it REALLY bugs me.

    Also - any tips on how to become a script reader? Aside from moving to LA. I live in Vegas and that's close enough, thanks.

  6. Thanks for discussing these things with the clarity that you do. Short and sweet, but full of essential truths. Keep on keeping on!