Questions to Consider as your Write Your Scenes
January 28th, 2024
Every scene in a screenplay should serve a purpose and contribute to the overall narrative. While the specific goals may vary depending on the story, genre, and context, there are things that every scene should accomplish.
To ensure that each scene in a screenplay is effective and contributes meaningfully to the overall narrative, consider asking the following questions:
What is the Scene's Purpose?
- Define the specific purpose of the scene in advancing the plot, revealing character, or conveying important information. Ensure that the scene has a clear reason for existing.
How Does the Scene Advance the Plot?
- Identify how the events in the scene propel the story forward. Scenes should contribute to the overall narrative arc and provide new information or developments.
What Conflict or Tension Exists in the Scene?
- Determine the source of conflict or tension within the scene. Conflict keeps the audience engaged, so understand what challenges or obstacles the characters face.
What Character Development Occurs?
- Consider how the scene reveals or develops the characters involved. Look for opportunities to showcase their motivations, conflicts, or changes in their arcs.
Does the Scene Contribute to the Theme or Tone?
- Ensure that the scene aligns with the overarching theme and tone of the screenplay. Scenes should collectively create a consistent and cohesive atmosphere.
What is the Emotional Impact of the Scene?
- Evaluate the emotional resonance of the scene. Determine how it elicits emotions from the characters and, in turn, the audience.
Is the Dialogue Purposeful and Authentic?
- Review the dialogue in the scene. Ensure that it serves a specific purpose, whether it's advancing the plot, revealing character, or adding to the tone.
What Visual Elements Can Enhance the Scene?
- Consider the visual aspects of the scene. Think about how it will be shot and what visual elements can enhance the storytelling, such as cinematography, setting, or visual symbolism.
Does the Scene Have a Clear Beginning, Middle, and End?
- Check the structure of the scene to ensure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Scenes should have a logical flow and avoid feeling disjointed.
How Does the Scene Connect to Previous and Subsequent Scenes?
- Consider how the scene connects to what precedes it and sets up what follows. Scenes should transition smoothly and contribute to the overall coherence of the screenplay.
Does the Scene Introduce New Information or Perspectives?
- Evaluate whether the scene brings something new to the table. It could be new information, a different perspective, or a shift in the dynamics.
Is the Scene Concise and Necessary?
- Ensure that the scene is concise and avoids unnecessary elements. Every moment in a screenplay should serve a purpose and contribute to the overall narrative.
By asking these questions, you can critically assess the effectiveness of each scene and refine your screenplay for a more compelling and cohesive storytelling experience.