As noted in this post last week, I’ve dubbed September to be Scene-Writing Month. Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, I will upload a post with a specific set of guidelines for writing a script scene. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. If you really want to get in the spirit of things, upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your scene as well.
Why scene-writing? Think about it: If the average scene is 1 1/2 to 2 pages long and a script is 100-120 pages, then a screenwriter writes between 50-80 scenes per screenplay. Thus in a very real way, screenwriting is scene-writing. The better we get at writing scenes, it stands to reason the better we get as a screenwriter.
Plus there’s this: If you are thinking about using the Go On Your Own Quest schedule to pound out a first draft of an original screenplay, FADE IN is fast approaching — October 21 to be precise. What better way to get your writing muscles moving than a series of scene-writing exercises.
A couple of logistical notes:
* Limit your scenes to 2 pages. First, most scenes are 2 pages or less in length. Second, out of fairness to everyone participating in the public scene-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.
* I’m sure someone will post a way for you to write scenes and upload them so they maintain proper script format, but that isn’t a big deal to me. Rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:
SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do? RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
So your approach to scene format insofar as uploading them to comments here could be as simple as this:
GAS STATION/GROCERY SHEFFIELD At an isolated dusty crossroad. It is twilight. The Ford sedan that Chigurh stopped is parked alongside the pump. INSIDE Chigurh stands at the counter across from the elderly proprietor. He holds up a bag of cashews. CHIGURH: How much? PROPRIETOR: Sixty-nine cent. CHIGURH: This. And the gas. PROPRIETOR: Y’all getting any rain up your way? CHIGURH: What way would that be? PROPRIETOR: I seen you was from Dallas. Chigurh tears open the bag of cashews and pours a few into his hand. CHIGURH: What business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?
Here is a partial list of scene-writing prompts I am considering, some my own, other suggested by members of the GITS community:
* Write a scene that establishes a location.
* Write an action scene with no dialogue.
* Take a ‘talking heads’ scene and put it on its feet.
* Write a scene that builds toward a cliffhanger.
* Write a scene where a woman seduces a man only talking about baseball.
* Write a scene involving a gun.
* Write a scene using voiceover narration.
* Write a scene where information must be conveyed but no can/dares to speak.
* An ordinary scene utilizing an extraordinary location (a first date in space, grocery shopping in Hell…)
* Write a scene that creates a memorable character introduction.
* Write a breakfast scene where a wife has recently discovered her husband has been cheating on her.
If you have other suggestions, please feel free to post them in comments.
This is an opportunity to write 20 scenes in September of all types. I have no idea how it will turn out, but if people participate, it could be a great learning experience.
Finally, if you don’t feel comfortable uploading your scenes, that’s okay. I encourage you to do the exercise privately. Let’s face it: Any writing is better than no writing.
So come back every day at noon to see what the day’s prompt is, then go write a scene.
To learn more about Go On Your Own Quest, go here.
Also The Black Board is joining in with National Sketch Writing Month, so if you’re a comedy writer and want to check that out, you can go here.