Posted by: michellemuldoon | October 24, 2010

Scene Direction: Write to the Point

I was working on a script this weekend and it inspired me to post about a subject that has become a sort of bee in my bonnet.  I’m talking about scene direction and how it affects the way a story is read.

I change scene direction more than anything else when I’m rewriting. Why? Because what felt concise on draft one is positively verbose by draft four.  Keeping it clear and concise is important, but just as important is the use of active present tense.  Dynamic phrasing, and descriptive word selection are important features of good scene direction.  It should be about the story, not the details of the film’s production.

Not only is word selection important, but so is how you format them. To quote Pilar Alessandra in her book, THE COFFEE BREAK SCREENWRITER, “They need to be placed on the page in a way that forces the eye to look at them, and written in a way that tells your story.”

If it looks like too much black stuff, then the reader won’t do anything more than skim the script. If that’s the case, and scene direction tells the story, then how much of your story is the reader really absorbing?

These are all things I think about, often, really, often. I mean, all the time…. You get the message.  

I work hard on scene direction. My goal is to write stories that resonate and affect the viewer, and to do that, I need to be consistent at writing powerful scene direction. If the producer can’t “see” the story on the page, then the audience will never get to see it in a theatre.

Here’s the thing,  I want to sit in a theatre with friends and family, my head in my hands, my eyes averted, my blood pressure sky-rocketing because I’m so nervous I could lose that two dollar well-past-its-prime wrinkled hot dog I wolfed down just before I realized I should have brought a flask with dark rum for the five dollar overly-syruppy classic coke that — —

Sorry for the rambling description… I think you get the idea.



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