Assignment on scene writing
I. Scenes and their dramatic structure and purpose

A. Beats, pacing, tension

B. Where to begin a scene

1. Economy, eliminate the dull stuff, start in action

C. Purpose of scenes

1. Advance the story--destination, purpose, direction of action

2. Causality

3. Revelations

4. Mood

5. Narrative action--doing things, agency

6. Change, decide, influence, grow, manipulate

D. Tactics of scenes

1. Prevent and hinder protagonist

2. Obstacles

3. Locale, daily scene

4. Previous actions and mood

5. Small details, value of research

6. Non-verbal communication, interpersonal communication--what a “role” in daily life means, what an actor does and studies

7. Deception, misperception, misalliance, mistakes

E. Scenes and organization of time

1. Continuous time, screen time=real time

A. The shot-sequence, all in one take, no cuts, camera reframes points of emphasis

B. The continuous scene--cuts and changes of angle, even of location, but screen time=real time. Example, a conversation.

2. The episodic sequence--delineates the high points or representative points in a process. Example, the stages of something....

3. The ordinary sequence--leaves out unnecessary, unnoticed, and seemingly irrelevant moments. Example, driving across town to pick up a date

F. Tasks for screenwriter in writing scenes

1. Let setting speak, use non-verbal communication cues

2. Have at least three or four beats, using dramatic progression or escalation of tension

3. Use dramatic economy in the dialogue, don't be wordy

4. Have the style of speaking be consistent with character type and frame of mind

5. You could do the whole thing as a non-verbal sequence; in that case, detail the kinds of sounds heard and the camera movements and what is seen in the image at any given point

G. Assignment

1. Write on one of three situations listed below (you can change the characters names or gender)

A. Betty wants to get _____ done. Write a scene in which she tries to do so but encounters obstacles.

B. Bill and James are doing _____ together. Think of two or three essential contrasts in their characters that will create conflicts between them. Write a scene that dramatizes one of these contrasting character elements.

C. Y has a deep-seated, paralyzing fear that keeps him/her from reaching an important goal. Create physical symbols (people or objects) that represent the two sides of this conflict. Write a scene with Y and the object or person that represents his/her fears.

D. Pick some other conflictual situation between two people which has unity of time and place. Write a scene around their conflict.

2. Use the environment and screen directions in a dramatic way; also use body language and props dramatically

3. Jot down your beats and make sure they escalate

4. Use principle of dramatic economy; avoid wordiness

5. Use words in boldface above to focus your material

5. It can be funny or serious

6. Use correct screenplay format

7. Write five pages, no more.