Just a typical day, week, month in my life as a screenwriter — I am doing another scene check on my latest draft these days. I am looking at how I structured each scene. So far — in a few scenes there is no conflict and too much expository. Occasionally, there is an abrupt shift that is disconcerting. A few times, a montage ought to be replaced with an exchange of blatant expository. On and on as I am tracking each of my main characters separately, examining their conflicts, internal and external. A lot of little things are missing. And there are some big gaps. I realize that I need some smaller scenes, meaningful transitions to pace the script and to present detail about certain characters. I also realize I’m not really telling any stories with some of my characters. By adding small doses of expository, there is story, interesting subplot that I will be able to spin in a few small scenes. Now I just have to write them!
Bottom line – it is all about the scenes because they are the building blocks of our screenplays. Each one is different. Like snowflakes – created by the perfect storm of the climate and geography of plot, character, circumstance. Every scene is a chemistry experiment composed of plot, character, circumstances of story at a specific point in time:
- Scenes are energy. Like life, they are never static.
- Scenes are the meeting ground of opposing forces.
- The interaction between the subject-protagonist of a scene and the obstacles create friction which creates energy.
- Friction may create a tiny bit of warmth, a lot of heat, sparks, fire, an explosion.
- Scenes explore the chemistry of opposing forces – the nature of its inherent friction.
- In expository scenes, where information is being transmitted very directly, there will often still be something going on which is creating some resistance – friction.
If we know what kind of scene we are writing and are totally mindful of our scene’s major and minor elements, we can maximize the impact of each page of our script. Which brings me to my upcoming Writers Store scene writing webinar, Mapping Out Memorable Scenes.
Consider joining me for what should be a very interesting webinar. And wish me luck on my rewrite, please!
Tom Benedek wrote the screenplay for Cocoon, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and other films. In addition to teaching the craft of screenwriting, Tom has interviewed dozens of agents, managers, production execs, working screenwriters for his Network Hollywood class at ScreenWritingMasterClass.com. He has written screenplays for Robert Zemeckis, Lawerence Kasdan, Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck, David Brown, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Richard Rush, Harold Ramis, Lauren Schuler Donner and Richard Donner, Ray Stark, and many more.
Mapping Out Memorable Scenes
Webinar at The Writers Store
- This live webinar examines characteristics of scene structure
- Learn how to write consistently and strategically, scene by scene
- Discover how to approach each scene in your script with specific storytelling techniques