The best advice for writing film dialogue is don’t. Never write a line of dialogue when you can create a visual expression. The first attack on every scene should be: How could I write this in a purely visual way and not have to resort to a single line of dialogue? Obey the Law of Diminishing Returns: The more dialogue you write, the less effect dialogue has. If you write speech after speech, walking characters into rooms, sitting them in chairs and talking, talking, talking, moments of quality dialogue are buried under this avalanche of words. But if you write for the eye, when the dialogue comes, as it must, it sparks interest because the audience is hungry for it. Lean dialogue, in relief against what’s primarily visual, has salience and power.

Alfred Hitchcock once remarked, “When the screenplay has been written and the dialogue has been added, we’re ready to shoot.”

Image is our first choice, dialogue the regretful second choice. Dialogue is the last layer we add to the screenplay. Make no mistake, we all love great dialogue, but less is more. When a highly imagistic film shifts to dialogue, it crackles with excitement and delights the ear.
—  McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. HarperCollins e-books, 2010: 393-394.
The Law of Diminishing Returns, true in life as well as in story, is this: The more often we experience something, the less effect it has. Emotional experience, in other words, cannot be repeated back-to-back with effect. The first ice cream cone tastes great; the second isn’t bad; the third makes you sick. The first time we experience an emotion or sensation it has its full effect. If we try to repeat this experience immediately, it has half or less than half of its full effect. If we go straight to the same emotion for the third time, it not only doesn’t have the original effect, it delivers the opposite effect.

Suppose a story contains three tragic scenes contiguously. What would be the effect? In the first, we shed tears; in the second, we sniffle; in the third, we laugh… loudly. Not because the third scene isn’t sad – it may be the saddest of the three – but because the previous two have drained us of grief and we find it insensitive, if not ludicrous, of the storyteller to expect us to cry yet again. The repetition of “serious” emotion is, in fact, a favorite comic device.
—  McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. HarperCollins e-books, 2010: 243.
Diminishing Returns
  • Diminishing Returns
  • Harvey Danger
  • Little by Little

Harvey Danger - Diminishing Returns

Don’t ideas just seem more real and profound when they’re expressed poetically and set to a pretty and well crafted piece of music? 

I feel like this one sums up most of my relationships with other humans.

Diminishing returns - Guild Wars 2 Wiki (GW2W)

Just wondering how many people don’t know about this. I’ve only stumbled upon the entry accidentally, I had no idea this was a thing in GW2. Some of it is obvious in systematic rewards like in dungeons, but the part about normal mob loot for example is not. At all. I’m not saying it’s not justifiable as exploit prevention, but an ingame warning or tutorial message about it would be nice.

TL;DR: If you stay too long (i.e. several hours) in a specific area, doing events, etc, or even on the same map (all-day-long Silverwastes farm, anyone?), there is an increasing chance you’ll start getting crappier and crappier rewards and loot, without warning or obvious indication. Funniest thing is that the criteria for triggering this are ‘not shared’ by Anet and thus even the wiki only contains speculations on the exact conditions.

Practicing and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Now that I am back in my practice season, I have noticed this aptly named law more frequently. For those unfamiliar, The Law of Diminishing Returns is when the amount of energy expended is greater than the return investment. As much I as would like to believe that the more time I put into my craft (seeking those golden 10,000 hours), the better I become, this is only true dependent on the quality of my practice sessions.

There are times when I am intensely motivated to practice for hours on end, feeling like I should spend every waking moment near the piano, but I typically cannot sustain this mode for a very long period of time without suffering some serious burnout. Unfortunately the period of time that I can truly consider efficient (for myself) happens to peak around 2-3 hours, of which I can say I get negative feedback after 4 hours. In one sitting, I can only practice efficiently for up to 1.5 to 2 hours maximum (with 5 minute breaks every half hour), if I want more practice time, I need to take at least a half hour break before I return to the piano. Lately I have been a big proponent of breaking my sessions up three times a day, a breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you will.

The two limitations involved are mental and physical; I find the mental aspect can be tapped much more than the physical, exceeding well beyond 4 hours (of course, time will be needed to ‘recharge’), whereas the physical limit can vary depending on the person (and for me, wears out much quicker than mental). When these two processes are not working in symbiosis, I must take appropriate action to either get in the right mental  (sleep, nutrition, etc.) or physical state (stretching, warming up, etc.). 

A factor to consider is the difference between playing and practicing (as stressed in previous posts), but to put it simply, practicing is when the intensity of the session is increased (deliberate and goal based). Practicing requires that the mental and physical state are in optimal condition to produce results. In my opinion, playing can usually rely on one more than the other.

All in all, it takes some time to find the limits for each person, but well worth it when discovered, allowing the person to work to their strengths. I find it very liberating to have an actual time limit, it makes me focus more on keeping my sessions consistent, and reduces stress by having to break my goals into smaller chunks over a period of time. The challenge then becomes not “How many hours can I practice,” but, “How can accomplish what I need to in less than 4 hours?”


Harmony have released a video for the title track from their forthcoming 7", Diminishing Returns