Another crucial question to ask when writing a scene: “Why are these characters in this scene?”
Who’s in the scene? Or more aptly, what characters should be in the scene? And why? Likewise who should not be in the scene?
These are questions many writers don’t ask – at least consciously – because they approach scene-writing intuitively. Fortunately the average scene makes the answers to this particular set of questions pretty clear because events of the plot often will dictate which characters should be in the scene and which should not.
But even knowing intuitively which characters should participate in a scene does not necessarily translate into that scene being written well. A writer can get the roster of characters for a scene completely right, yet the execution of the scene completely wrong.
One major reason is because a writer should ‘cast’ each scene not based on intuition, but upon the point of the scene: Who does what to whom and why?
Beyond that, you need to know both the structural and emotional goals of the scene to determine the purpose of each character in relation to the Plotline and Themeline.
So right off the top, if you have a character / characters in a scene who do not have a specific function tied to plot, you should more than likely excise them from the scene.
Conversely once you determine what each character’s purpose in the scene is, you are on your way to being able to craft a viable, quality block of narrative.
So with every scene you write, ask this question:
Why are these characters in this scene?
The Quest” has entered Week 19! And so did Go On Your Own Quest, an opportunity for anyone to follow the structure of “The Quest” to dig into screenwriting theory [Core – 8 weeks], figure out your story [Prep – 6 weeks], and write a first draft [Pages – 10 weeks]. It’s a 24-week immersion in the screenwriting process and you can do it here – for free!
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