Create a rule, and then break it

written by Ken Preston | Creativity

January 9, 2024

Scoring the monster hit movie, Jaws, John Williams had one rule, and that was to never fool the audience. Whenever you hear that ominous two-note theme - dah-dum, dah-dum - you know the shark is somewhere close by and that someone is likely going to get eaten soon. But then in the scenes where the shark isn't there, for example the scene with kids pranking everyone with the cardboard fin, we never here the Jaws theme. We only here it when the shark is there.

That John Williams though, he's a clever, mischevious one. Having got us used to that rule, he breaks it. For example when we are aboard the Orca and the shark leaps from the water in front of Roy Scheider (You're gonna need a bigger boat!), the shark appears with no musical warning, increasing the shock and the surprise.

How can you break a rule in your writing to achieve an effect?

Jaws without the music.

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