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Writing a Scene and the Hobbling of IMDB

Banes at 12:00AM, Feb. 9, 2017

I was actually asked some writing questions the other day. Who the deuce would ask ME for advice? But I happened to have a little.

Here are some thoughts on writing that smallest unit of a story: the scene (reprise):

First off, what is a scene? What defines it?

It's Change.

Something changes between the beginning and end of a scene.

Here's a way to write one if you're stuck. These are the things to figure out that go on BENEATH the dialogue:

First, you have to know where you're at in your story. Who is your character and what do they want, in terms of the entire narrative? Where does this scene fit into that larger narrative?

Then, figure out what they want in this particular scene, and how they're going to go about getting it.

Finally, figure out what's in the way of achieving what they want. (conflict! Making things more difficult for our characters is what drives a story forward and makes us want to root for them!).

If the readers can anticipate the conflict in some way, that can help. If your detective is going in to question someone, maybe we can get a look at how busy/grumpy/difficult that other person might be. Or maybe we know the protagonist has to LIE about something, and we're anticipating whether they're going to be found out. Maybe the protagonist's goal is to close the window, and only the AUDIENCE knows there's a killer hiding outside. That's still conflict!

When the obstacle is overcome, or not, the scene is over.


On another note, I was quite chagrined to hear about the impending deletion of the IMDB message boards. The database of all movies and TV shows is one of the most useful and enjoyable things on the ‘Net (next to the Duck, natch), and I’ve gleaned a TON of insights, recommendations, and laughter from the message boards over there.

Am I crazy that hiring moderators is a much more sensible solution than axing the whole thing because of trolling? Unless the true motivation is something they're not telling us, it seems like a move that will only hurt the site and diminish the Internet.

Or maybe for entertainment discussion, social media is where it's at, like they're telling us. Maybe I'm just an old luddite, but I disagree. Facebook and Twitter is NOT where I want to discuss Friday the 13th part seven.


Have a good Thursday!




PaulEberhardt at 11:59AM, Feb. 9, 2017

Excellent advice! Sometimes it's really best to go to the roots of what you're trying to do. I haven't been on IMDB very often, but what I do know is that all this so-called "web 2.0" stuff has been getting on my mammary-glands-I-don't-have (can't say the t-word here, can I?) for quite some time. More or less putting everything into the hands of a few mental rubbish collecting machines like Facebook and Twitter will only serve to make the internet much less interesting and useful for anything. I know why I quit my account in one of them years ago and never signed up to anything of that sort again. No matter what THEY tell you, I'm none the worse for it!

EssayBee at 7:24AM, Feb. 9, 2017

One more note about cliffhanger moments--for webcomics, it's good to keep in mind cliffhangers when laying out pages. When scripting, I usually write out all of the dialogue first (jotting down critical framing/posing notes). Once the dialogue is done, I go back and figure out general page layout, and I use cues in the dialogue as guidelines of when to end pages to create some sort of cliffhanger (however minor) from update to update. So, if you usually aim for 6 panels on a page, but panel 5 ends with a character dropping a bombshell or asking a critical question, end the page at that moment instead of taking the air out of the revelation by showing a reaction on the same page. This is especially useful in dialogue-heavy scenes to keep some sort of dramatic tension from update to update.

EssayBee at 7:14AM, Feb. 9, 2017

One point of scene pacing/cutting not discussed here is the dramatic cliffhanger. A lot of times, it's better for dramatic purposes to end a scene at a cliffhanger moment instead of letting the scene play in its entirety. It's common practice in film and books as a means of creating drama and making viewers/readers want to keep going. So, build the tension/drama in a scene, bring it to its crescendo (e.g., the moment before a fight begins, the moment before something is revealed to a character--or, usually, the character's reaction to something revealed but before that thing is revealed to readers), and then cut to another scene with events happening elsewhere. So, when constructing scenes--especially if you have several plotlines going on--it may sometimes be best to break large scenes into a series of dramatic cliffhangers, and use those to cut from scene to scene, so the story is driven by a series intercut scenes with multiple "cliffhanger" moments.

awsome owl 98 at 6:05AM, Feb. 9, 2017

Well, we can discuss movies on the forums here. (Forums are the same thing as message boards right? At least that's what I thought.)

KimLuster at 5:00AM, Feb. 9, 2017

Great stuff! In my bare bones script, I have a short sentence of what portion of the I want to convey, then craft a scene around it. Example: 'Colonel and K talk about her dream odyssey and conclude she needs to do something to still feel human' - that turned into a 4-page scene!

bravo1102 at 4:39AM, Feb. 9, 2017

In a play a scene is literally one change of scenery. If the scenery is changed for a new scene that means there was movement. The characters had gone someplace or another set of characters was doing something. I still seperate my scripts like that because I often do make physical changes of scenery and backgrounds. (And property and costumes)

bravo1102 at 4:30AM, Feb. 9, 2017

I won't miss it because I had to correct so many mistakes about historical movies... and then correcting the birthday of an actress I graduated high school with. She wasn't 12 when she graduated! ;-D

ozoneocean at 3:44AM, Feb. 9, 2017

Twitter is dying. Facebook is way too political Messageboards and forums are so much better, but it's going to take a while for people to come around and see that again. It's a shame about that feature going from IMDB.

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