Before And After A Scene

Here’s a simple little thing to consider, and I learned it from an actor… “What was the character doing before she walked in, and where is she going after the scene is over…” Sort of “where was he and where’s he headed?”

It’s a good way to look at what actually happens IN a scene.

Movies, in some ways, are so disjointed, with little scenes thrown in against another little scene and another one after another… that it’s difficult sometimes to keep the narrative flow going in a smooth and coherent way. By looking at where a character was before the scene opened, you can jog your mind to think of things you might not normally have thought of…

What’s she carrying? If she’s been to the market, she’s got shopping bags. That might affect the action of the scene you’re working on.
What’s she feeling? If she has been to a therapist’s, she may be in a really wonderful mood, or terribly down.
Did she just get some interesting information that relates to the story?
Was it raining or cold outside? What is she going to do with that umbrella?
Was she seeing another character in the story, and how did that meeting affect the mood she’s in when she walks into this room?

And, where’s she going… matters too.

–with props… she’s got to pick the dog up from the vet, so she needs her checkbook and the leash… which may come in handy in an upcoming scene.
–with mood… she’s going to see her mother in the hospital, which may depress the hell out of her.
–with plot… she’s on her way to see Oz the Powerful. She has to gather knickknacks to give him.

Etc., etc.

Where’s she been; where’s she going…? Simple little questions to ask, but asking can pay off with nice dividends.

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Filed under Details, Screenwriting, Writing Process

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