Combine Scenes for Clarity and Speed

Working on an outline and a script at the same time. Had some thoughts to share.

I’ve got several scenes in a row that are kinda about the same thing.

Trial scene. Hero Gangster on trial for extortion.
Flashback to that extortion.
Courthouse. Prosecutor is about to call a Key Witness, which will sink our Hero gangster.
Courthouse. Different witness testifies about the extortion. Hero questioned about how difficult the highjacking business is.
Flashback to highjacking and how hard it is to do well.
Flashback to bringing in out-of-town highjacking experts.
Flashback to the highjacking business improving.
Flashback to the Key Witness being killed by the hero.
Courthouse. Prosecutor calls Key Witness and he doesn’t show up, so Hero wins the trial.

I had an idea, looking at this in the computer, that I had a problem in that (as this is based on real life, and I was sticking to the facts) there are two crimes and one trial and one murder. I needed to combine the extortion trial and the highjacking problem into one.
This was a pretty damn good idea.

I needed to really think about how to combine these scenes. That kind of thought is impossible to do (for me anyway) while looking at a computer screen. So I printed the relevant two pages (on one page, I’m so green!) and sat down with my trusty pen and brain. I thought and I scribbled and I drew arrows combining the scenes and changing things so it would flow correctly.

And, to keep it all straight, I pulled out a sheet of paper to write down the new order of the scenes, and what happened in them.

It helps me to write on the page.

And it’s far far better now. But I would not have been able to solve the problem as well, had I not printed it out.

Now, it’s —

Trial scene. Hero Gangster on trial for murder that happened during highjacking. Prosecutor is about to call a Key Witness, which will sink our Hero gangster. Different witness testifies about the highjacking. Hero questioned about how difficult the business is.
Flashback to highjacking and how hard it is to do well. Hero murders two people and Key Witness sees it.
Flashback to bringing in out-of-town highjacking experts.
Flashback to the highjacking business improving.
Flashback to the Key Witness being killed by the hero.
Courthouse. Prosecutor calls Key Witness and he doesn’t show up, so Hero wins the trial.

Now it flows better, doesn’t jump back and forth from Courthouse to different Flashbacks… is far less confusing, and got rid of several scenes. Hooray.

The key element for me was the thinking with the pen in my hand. I could SEE what I needed to do when I had it on paper in front of me. A lot of difficult thinking was made easier because I could hold it in my hand.

My thought for the day.

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6 Comments

Filed under Good Writing, Rewriting, Screenwriting

6 responses to “Combine Scenes for Clarity and Speed

  1. Shannon Bee

    Page 43, second paragraph…Fill up oceans of 3×5 cards. At the ocean now with a diverse group of writing pals and the 3×5 cards are every where and covered with words, words, and words that will lead to tales. Thank you again for the book. My work is starting to seem less “sucky”.
    Glad to know you take your own advice from the looks of the above pic.

    The one always running late.
    SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference attendee

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Shannon,

      Glad a childrens book author is finding my book useful!

      re: 3×5 cards… they don’t work for me on a wall… only on a table or in my lap. But, whatever works for you is what works for you.

      Enjoy your writing,
      Will

      • Shannon Bee

        As for 3×5 cards…rows of characters and rows of events on the table and movable so the writers can give input to how they suggest events would work best. Genre? May be on its way to changing. We shall see.
        Writing with joy.
        Always running late.
        Shannon Bee

  2. Melody lopez

    At least you get it out of your head. I think you are onto something Will and I hope it ends up insanely great!

  3. Pingback: The Ultimate Scene Writing Guide For Screenwriters | Write better scenes with these screenwriting resources | The Screenwriting Spark

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      THAT is the $64,000 question.

      No clue at this point, as I haven’t finished it. You are asking about Your Screenplay STILL Sucks!.

      I was talking about the children’s book I wrapped up last week. Took me two years to get it done. First draft was “written” in the car, dictating three pages on the way to work, three more on the way back. Transcribed with MacSpeech Scribe and after I got the first draft, I worked on it until I thought it was perfect.

      You’re finished with the work when you read it and you only find yourself moving commas around.

      Now, of course, I have to sell it.
      A whole ‘nother problem.

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