Have you ever created a really interesting character in your story, then taken them all the way to a potential climax and realized you have no idea how to build the necessary scene that could help it evolve?
If you have, I have some great news for you; this article will show you how to write a screenplay and create that scene without falling flat.
How To Write A Scene In A Screenplay
What Is A scene in a screenplay?
A scene is an event, action or series of events that takes place between two or more characters in a story.
Scenes are the basic building block of cinematic storytelling. They are the essential components that make up the plot of the movie.
In a screenplay, each scene has its own page and there are usually scenes on several pages that make up what is called a sequence.
There are several types of scenes in a screenplay but they can be categorized into four primary categories:
An exterior scene takes place outside and is generally shot outdoors. An exterior can be filmed inside or outside depending on the type of scene being filmed.
Exterior scenes are shot on location and are typically filmed during daylight hours unless it’s for a nighttime exterior which would be filmed at night time.
An Interior Scene takes place inside a room or other non-exterior location.
An Exterior Day Scene is an exterior scene shot during daytime hours when there is enough light to see the action clearly.
An Exterior Night Scene is an exterior scene shot at night where there is little or no light present to see the action clearly.
Exterior Night Scenes might require additional lighting to illuminate the set.
How To Create A Scene In A Screenplay
Scenes! The secret to your screenplay’s success.
Whether you’re writing a comedy or a drama, every scene must contribute to the story.
A writer with poor scene structure can’t create a dramatic arc. Important scenes may be missing, and the tale will feel disjointed.
In this article, we’ll talk about the basic elements of successful scenes, and then dive into exercises that will allow you to create scene templates for your own stories
A screenplay is not written in just one go. It is a process of writing and rewriting, with each scene building on the previous scenes, taking the story forward.
There are many tips and tricks that make this process smoother and more rewarding, and it’s these tips and tricks that will make up most of this book.
How To Write A Scene: The Basics
If you’ve read a lot of screenplays, you have undoubtedly noticed that many of them follow the same format. “How to Write a Scene will show you some logical ways to organize your screenplay’s writing structure.
Common tips and techniques are included such as how to open and close a scene, how to establish a character, how to increase tension, etc. Some basic storytelling advice is also offered to get you started on the right foot.
With practical tips and exercises, it guides you through all the steps involved in writing a scene: creating characters and structure, crafting dialogue, using description and action effectively, choosing the right tense, setting the scene and many more. This book provides information to help you decide how to best write your scenes, giving examples from professional scripts.
This book will teach you, step-by-step, how to create complex, fascinating scenes that propel your story forward and make writing fun again. A non-formulaic guide to creating authentic and fresh scenes with impact, as well as a plethora of practical examples from quality TV, film, and literature.
Covers every aspect of scene creation. Based on the acclaimed Screenwriters University course.
Writing A Scene: Scene Structure
Maybe you’ve heard one or two things about scenes: they’re the best way to tell a story, or the only way. Maybe you’ve heard them called “the workhorse of fiction.” Well, that’s true.
Scene Structure is a detail by detail outline for writing powerful and original screenplays. Every scene can be broken down into its fundamental parts so you have a blueprint for writing memorable scenes and stories.
This guide also increases understanding of screenwriting as a whole and lays out the framework for avoiding common screenplay rules, including “show don’t tell” and “quickly introduce characters”.
Learn the difference between basic, action, exposition, epiphany, reaction and wind-up scenes. Then master the formula for balancing protagonists’ wants against conflicts that prevent them from reaching those goals.
Not every scene in your screenplay has to follow the same pattern, but by understanding the basics of how scenes work, you can create more dynamic and effective ones, and you can use your knowledge as a tool for troubleshooting problems when they arise.
Scenes are how stories come alive and move forward. But what exactly is a scene? And why are they so important? Let’s talk about what’s what, who’s who, and why this thing works.
How To Write A Scene: Screenplay Examples
Take the pain out of the “how do I write this scene?” question and learn concrete techniques that will help fill your screenplay with rich, interesting scenes.
By breaking down the elements of creating an outstanding scene, this book helps writers understand how to create memorable stories for films.
This book is more about scenes than about writing a screenplay. It’s not about screenwriting theory or studying audience appeal.
No highly technical jibber-jabber here; rather, it’s about writing compelling, real life scenes that propel your script forward and engage your audience in ways they’re not used to being engaged.
This book features 3 examples of a scene from an early draft of Breaking Bad’s script, where Walt and Jesse play out their character’s past relationship through action and dialogue only. The rest of the page is all text, cutting the reader directly into the middle of the story.
This book is perfect for screenwriters who want to learn how to build or improve a scene without narration or exposition. This series offers screenplay examples with minimal explanations. By reading this book and analyzing the scenes in their own work, you can unlock their structure, making them easier to write yourself.
Writing A Scene Without Dialogue
Learn how to write a scene without dialogue. A good story should be able to grab the reader at any point and make them care about the characters and their problems. Dialogue is an excellent tool for accomplishing this task. It really helps if a writer can give each character (and even the setting) a distinct voice through their dialogue.
However, it is possible to create a compelling story without relying on dialogue at all. And it can be more difficult, but also more interesting and rewarding, than one might imagine.
It can be a little tricky to write a good scene that doesn’t need any dialogue to move it along. It might seem like words are the glue that hold the story together, but quite often, it’s the conversation between two people that moves the story forward.
As an exercise, turn off your music for just a little bit and sit down at your computer or notebook for ten minutes. Take a look at this image and see what you can come up with! Don’t worry about what it means or where it goes in your story, just tell us what happens!
The Godfather: Analysis Of A Scene
This handout provides a detailed analysis of the dialogue and descriptions in the scene so that you can emulate the character’s authoritative style of speaking in your own work.You will learn how to set each specific contrast through descriptions and dialogue to describe a scene or an action.
It is essential that you show, not tell. Here, with Brando as Don Vito Corleone, Pacino as Michael, James Caan as Sonny, Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, and Talia Shire as Connie Barzini, keep this goal in mind when writing
Knowing the purpose of a scene and the characters in the scene can help you create truly memorable moments that are effective, enjoyable, and keep your story moving.
To write dialogue that is natural and believable, you must determine the motivations of each of your characters in a scene to best understand how they interact.a scene; don’t just tell what each individual character went through during the scene, but show how they reacted through actions and words.
It opens with a shot of a graveyard. There is no music or dialogue for 22 seconds. This scene is about visual storytelling. The movie is about family and heritage and that is what the viewer sees: there are many gravestones with dates and names on them, some in Italian, some nameless.
The Gambino family plot has a marble cross, the Corleones have stone crosses. The plot of Fredo is unmarked.
Writing The Perfect Scene In A Screenplay
Want to write a better screenplay? Let bestselling author Steven Proctor show you how to write a great action, sex or screenwriting script with this definitive guide on writing the perfect scene.
Let’s be honest: writing a screenplay is difficult. And oftentimes, when we write, it can feel like we’re hitting a wall or hitting a rut. So I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
This collection of short, actionable prose will ignite your passion and will hopefully offer you some new techniques to try out when inventing your next screenplay and/or short film.
A perfect scene is like a well conducted symphony. Every part acts in harmony with the others to produce one amazing, magnificent result.
Each instrument pitches in its note and each word plays its note as well. But how can you tell if your scene is perfect? And what simple techniques can you use to improve it? This book will explain.
Writing A Scene Key Principle #1: Reveal One New Piece Of Key Info
Writing a scene that feels active is about showing the reader one new piece of key information, and then continuing to explore the story world in depth through additional sensory imagining and showing.
I’ve found that characters are often revealed best not through summary of their histories, but through their actions. So I tend to take note of a character’s “key piece of info,” and then I do my best to reveal it in every scene the character is in.
For example, you might select the reason your main character started writing the book as his key piece of info. Then, each time his character is detailed in a scene, let us know how he’s writing the book (rather than dictating it).
You’ve seen it happen in the movies. Two people are talking, and one of them drops a bomb.
One character reveals that he is a killer or that she’s a spy. The conversation keeps going, and yet the other person never acknowledges what has just been said. This is an example of how not to reveal information during a scene’s dialogue.
What is a scene? A scene is where we go from a dull summary and step into the fictional dream. A character listens to a piece of news, an event occurs, or dialogue emerges that influences how the story plays out—and we need to know that information and see it play out on the page.
Writing A Scene Key Principle #2: Give The Scene Just One Goal
Scene goals are the heart of dramatic structure. Just like in real life, in a scene a character wants to do something: get love and approval, save an innocent, reveal a secret, get money and power, etc.
Sometimes this goal shifts during the course of the scene, but that’s because it’s part of the character’s change.
And usually this goal can be wrapped up into one sentence that sums up the Scene Goal.
A scene will have one goal, and the action within the scene should go toward that goal. The scene above is not well written because it has two goals:
- 1. explain that the man has two daughters, and
- 2. show how the daughters each act toward their father/exercise their differing personalities within one scene. In order to do this well, you need two scenes.
I used to think scene structure was rather cut and dried. First, you introduce the characters, then you move on to the action or drama of the scene, and then at the end of the conflict everything is resolved.
Writing A Scene Key Principle #3: Give The Scene A 3-Act Structure
Think of your scene as having three acts. First act comes the inciting incident, which throws a new obstacle into the mix and raises the stakes for the characters.
Act 2 is the response of the character or characters to this obstacle, everything they try to overcome it.
Then, finally in Act 3, we hit a peak moment when all is on the line and failure is not an option.
A book is more than just a series of episodes strung together. A scene is more than just a series of lines of dialogue strung together. The balance between talk and action doesn’t have to be 50/50, but a good scene is more than just people exchanging “a piece of information” and trying to knock each other’s hats off.
So how do you make your scenes more meaningful?
As a writer, one of the most important things you can learn is how to structure your work. Fulfilling any sort of creative passion can be difficult in and of itself, but it’s especially interesting to try and make sure that you’re doing things correctly.
It may not seem like that big of a deal, but you’d be shocked at how many writers miss simple things like this.
Writing A Scene Key Principle #4: Not Every Scene Needs Conflict, But It Does Need Stakes
If you’re lucky enough to live in a world where nothing ever goes wrong, you’re going to face some serious challenges when trying to write.
It’s our obligation to make sure our characters are wrestling with their deepest concerns — or that these concerns are being brought up on a regular basis. Not every scene has to strive for conflict (as you will see in Writing a Scene K.I.S.S.), but it should always strive for stakes.
The key principle to remember here is that a scene isn’t just a vehicle to move your story forward, it’s also an opportunity for you to understand your characters better.
These two things are often at odds with one another – after all, how do you craft a scene where your characters reveal themselves to us if they don’t change, or grow, or face opposition? You make tough choices.
Do you demand that there be tension in your scenes? Not always. And not every scene has to be “driven” by external conflict the way we’re taught in film school. If it helps, go ahead and think of almost every scene as another version of the elevator pitch we talked about earlier.
Writing A Scene Key Principle #5: Include Some Kind Of Visual Action
Actions speak louder than words, so when writing a scene, try to avoid too much dialogue. Feel free to let your characters talk to each other, but don’t forget the visual action.
A scene can be a conversation, or it can be a car chase, or it can be anything in between. It just has to ‘feel’ like a scene.
It’s easy to write a static description telling us that the main character meets a king who is six feet tall with a broken crown.
But it’s more interesting if we watch the main character meet the king, hear her voice crack, and see her hands shake as she exchanges the box containing his crown.
Summing Up How To Write A Scene In A Screenplay
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman instructs the reader how to write a scene in a screenplay, providing helpful examples from his own work.
We hope you’ve found this article on writing scenes in screenplays useful.