what’s your scene out?

Writing is a bit like a flywheel. It takes a while to get it going, but baby, once you do, it’s hard to stop. “Cut the first and last lines of dialogue.” is always good advice on how to get a scene shorter.

Another way is to ask yourself “What is my edit point?” “What’s my out?”

When I say go through your entire screenplay and look at this stuff, I mean put on your “What’s my out” colored glasses (mine are an attractive emerald green) and look at each scene only asking that single question.

Does your scene end with moment that would make a good cut? Or does it sort of meander on because you were carried away by momentum?

Does your scene end like this:

Sally drops the diamond ring in the empty champagne glass.

SALLY
That looks good enough to drink.

BOB
It sure does, Sally.

OR, do you cut at the moment an editor would:

Sally drops the diamond ring in the empty champagne glass.

If you can end the scene with a little POP, you’re on the right track. Beware momentum. It’ll freewheel you into the land of boredom.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “what’s your scene out?

  1. Terry Allen

    Hey, thanks for this reinforcing post.
    I just finished watching “Definately, maybe” and it is full of these POPs.
    I’m halfway through the special features “talk along” with the star and the writer and actually, your voice is right with us as we go along. It is like I’m right there with you guys.
    The advice in your book is laced throughout the film.
    Huge coincidental learning benefit to listen to such a great writer and actor talk about the process, after having read your book.

    btw, love how you cite certain movies for watching, for specific learning reasons. Huge help. The character transformations in Enchanted April are just as obvious and dramatic as you said they were.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Yeah, Terry, isn’t ENCHANTED APRIL great! I like the fact that the movie was shot in the same villa where the book took place, and where it was written. I also adore the cut from the husband saying, essentially: “You’re never, ever going to Italy on vacation!” and CUT TO: the ship steaming toward Italy with her on it. Like the cut in THE HEARTBREAK KID (original) where angry dad tells the son he will never, ever marry his daughter. “I am a goddamned brick wall!” CUT TO” the wedding.

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