September is Scene-Writing Month: Day 12

September 18th, 2013 by

As noted in this post, September is Scene-Writing Month here at Go Into The Story. Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific, I will upload a post with a prompt 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.

Today’s prompt: Write an exposition scene…

What is an exposition scene? Most scenes have a point. Some have more than one, but generally if you drill down to the guts of the scene, it exists to advance one aspect of the plot.

The point of an exposition scene is to convey an important piece of… are you ready… exposition.

What is exposition? For our purposes, let’s say information, data or back-story.

So write an exposition scene. Easy enough, right?

Wrong! Note the ellipsis at the end of the prompt above? That means there’s something else coming.

Write an exposition scene… that is entertaining!

I heard something years ago in Hollywood: “Exposition equals death.” It’s hard to make exposition entertaining.

Your job?

Use fascination, mystery, revelation, humor, conflict, action, whatever, but make the scene entertaining while conveying the key piece of exposition.

2 pages max.

Post your scene in comments for feedback.

If you don’t feel comfortable uploading your scene, that’s okay. I encourage you to do the exercise privately. Let’s face it: Any writing is better than no writing.

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.

Tomorrow: Come back for another scene-writing prompt.

19 thoughts on “September is Scene-Writing Month: Day 12

  1. 14Shari says:

    INT. BAKERY SHOP – DAY

    Around noun is the busiest hour in the bakery. Customers flock to buy bread, chocolates, cakes and other delicious food. Every time a customer looks at the pastry display CUPCAKE I AND CUPCAKE 2 shine and pray it’s their turn. Nothing happens though. After a short time a lovely young girl walks in.

    CUPCAKE 1: psstt….come closer

    CUPCAKE 2: what?

    CUPCAKE 1: come closer, together we make 21 with our mini candles. I think that might be that girls age

    CUPCAKE 2 shovels closer. From the other side of the display we see 21 on top of the cupcakes.

    Unfortunately, the girl leaves with a croissant.
    Cup cake two is sad.

    CUPCAKE 1: Have faith, our buyer will show up

    CUPCAKE 2: Hope so, tired of being hidden behind this ugly glass. Look at me.

    Cupcake 1 takes a look

    CUPCAKE 2: I’m glamorous with my sprinkles and glitters. I’m made to be in the spotlights. Look at my movie frosting, who wouldn’t want to eat me while they are watching a movie. I should be the center of any movie party now.

    CUPCAKE 1: yeah, look at us, we are yummy and dressed for a movie party. My frosting really stands out. I like the Oscar statue. Hihihi, I feel grand. We are meant for a special customer.

    CUPCAKE 2: I hope so. I hope he shows up before I’m old

    Cupcake one hits cupcake 2.

    CUPCAKE 1: buck up

    SOUND OF DOORBELL
    A mother and a young child walk up to the counter.
    The child points at the cupcakes, licking her lips

    KID: I want that

    MOTHER: No, you can’t

    The child runs to the counter, puts it tongue against the glass.

    CUPCAKE TWO: get away, little brag

    MOTHER: stop it
    She drags the child away and leaves with bread.

    CUPCAKE 2: Oh no

    CUPCAKE 1: what?

    CUPCAKE 2: I don’t want to end up in THAT belly

    An overweight man with his big belly like a bounce ball hanging out of his trousers, his sweater too short, open mouth and his big hungry eyes stares at cupcakes one and two.

    CUPCAKE 1: me neither. Hide.

    CUPCAKE 2: where?

    CUPCAKE 1: fall over

    PLOP. Two cupcakes fall behind the counter.

    CUPCAKE 1: hey, do I still look good?

    CUPCAKE 2: what about me?

    FORWARD – CLOSING TIME.

    The two cupcakes are still not sold. The shop assistant is cleaning out the display.

    SHOP ASSISTANT ONE: strange. Didn’t someone order these cupcakes, they are kind of special with their movie theme.

    SHOP ASSISTANT TWO: oh yeah, it was for someone in the movie branche. Uhh…..

    Shop assistant two looks up in her notebook.

    SHOP ASSISTANT TWO: Scott and Franklin it says. From Go into the Story and The Black Board.

    CUPCAKE ONE: (to cupcake one) did you hear that? We are dressed for a movie party. I knew it, I knew it, we are special.

    SHOP ASSISTANT ONE: well, that must be a boring party without their cupcakes.

    CUPCAKE TWO: whatever, they didn’t show up

    SHOP ASSISTANT ONE: do you want one?

    The cupcakes hold their breath.

    SHOP ASSISTANT TWO: no, still dieting

    SIGHT. The cupcakes are relieved.

    SHOP ASSISTANT ONE: I’ll throw them away

    CUPCAKES ONE AND TWO: NOOOOO

    SHOP ASSISTANT ONE: did you hear that?

    Shop assistant one shrugs her shoulders.

    CUPCAKE ONE: run

    CUPCAKE TWO: where?

    CUPCAKE ONE: outside , where else !

    EXT. STREET OF BAKERY SHOP – LATE AFTERNOON

    CUPCAKE ONE: Lets go, we have a party to crash

    CUPCAKE TWO: how do we find it?

    CUPCAKE ONE: we go into the map, visit all the blacklisted people, one of them is our host

    CUPCAKE TWO: onward and upward

    Two funny yummy cupcakes walk down the road on their way to their party host.

    1. kathrynk says:

      Hilarious and I love the reveal. The image of those cupcakes bouncing down the street is priceless.

  2. robbie says:

    INT. OPERATING ROOM – NIGHT

    Seamus stands opposite of Maddy — his Sig Sauer still trained at her head — as she works feverishly on Rico.

    Seamus: I’m waiting.

    Maddy tries to clamps an artery — blood squirts into her eyes. She rears back.

    Maddy: FUCK!

    Seamus: Calm down. Answer my question.

    Maddy glares at him for a beat. Seaumus cocks the hammer on his gun.

    Seamus: Multi-task.

    Maddy puts on a pair of protective glasses and dives back into the hole in Rico’s CHEST.

    Maddy: The bigot. The hairy asshole…

    Seamus: Fredo.

    Maddy: He said Masterson was clean. And that the key…shit!

    She wrangles her suction nozzle, trying to see through the blood.

    Seamus: The key?

    Maddy: The key was–

    The heart monitor PEALS an alarm — Rico is FLATLINING.

    Mady: No, no, no, no, no–

    She hits a button on the CRASH CART. It whines as it powers up.

    Seamus: The key was where?

    Maddy: Hand me that syringe. There. By your left elbow. DO IT NOW!

    Seamus tosses it to her. Maddy plunges the needle into Rico’s HEART then reaches for the paddles. Seamus takes a step forward.

    Maddy: (Waiting for the Crash Cart) Come on, come on–

    Seamus: Maddy.

    Maddy: DO YOU WANT ME TO SAVE YOUR BROTHER OR NOT?!

    The Cart finishes charging.

    Maddy: CLEAR!

    She places the paddles in Rico’s chest and SHOCKS him. Then stands back. Seamus watches to see what happens.

    The monitor begins to BEEP in rhythm as Rico’s heart BEATS.

    Maddy: Good boy. Now, if I can just–

    BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

    Rico’s heart EXPLODES as Seamus fires. Maddy falls backwards to the floor. The heart monitor flatlines again. The warning DRONE is the only sound in the room as Maddy HOLDS HER BREATH.

    Seamus kisses Rico on the forehead.

    Seamus: (whispers) Love you, bro. See you soon.

    Seamus strides to Maddy and takes a knee. After a beat, he holsters his gun.

    Seamus: Fredo’s exact words, please.

    Maddy inhales sharply, drawing in breath — looking for the strength to hold it together. This guy is a monster.

    Maddy: He said Masterson didn’t know anything. To tell you that the key was still in the lock. He said you would know what that meant. And he said to be on the roof at oh five hundred sharp or they’d leave you…and Rico to the FBI.

    Seamus: Anything else?

    Maddy shakes her head no. Seamus thinks for a beat. Stands. He looks down at her. Tears stream down her face.

    Seamus: Let it go. You weren’t going to be able to save him. No one could. And I’m out of time.

    He strides out of the room.

    1. kathrynk says:

      Well damn, that was intense.Very nice mix of the seemingly incongruous, which I think is a key way of attracting attention. Good technique for an expo scene.

  3. Debbie Moon says:

    INT. BARRACKS ROOM – NIGHT

    Rae lowers herself gently in through the part-open window. A gap almost too small for even a skinny teenager like her, but she makes it.

    Silent on the plush carpet, she moves round the room. There isn’t much – an old-fashioned gold watch, some cheap pens, some tarnished cufflinks – but it all goes into her pockets.

    The fruit-and-nut chocolate bar on the nightstand is the greatest prize of all. She sniffs it gently. Bliss.

    MARK: I never did like fruit-and-nut.

    Returning from the bathroom, British army officer MARK CAWSLEY (35). Crew cut, perfect posture, sharp mind.

    He’s manoeuvering in a battered, much-repaired manual wheelchair. Rae has already decided he’s not a serious threat.

    Until she sees the handgun lying on the bed between them.

    He’s closer. But she would, presumably, be faster. They look at each other. Who’s going to be first to go for it?

    MARK: Tell me about your family.

    Rae just eyes him, and the gun. Deciding.

    MARK: Guessing game? I like games. Your family didn’t die in the Collapse. Not all at once. You would only have been five or six then, and you wouldn’t have survived on your own.

    No response.

    MARK: No, you had a parent until recently. A scavenger. living off whatever you could find. Whatever the drones left.
    RAE: Yeah, you’re a genius.
    MARK: Your father – because it was your father – kept you safe as long as he could. But you had younger siblings. Brothers, I’ll bet.

    Rae is uneasy. Is this really just a lucky guess?

    MARK: Two – no, three of them, their lives weighed against yours. And you’re a girl. However hard he tried, he couldn’t protect you forever. So he sold you to someone with some power. Traded you for protection.

    Rae’s fists clench.

    MARK: Didn’t expect you to run, though, did he? Your new ‘husband’ can’t have been happy. Do you think they’re still alive?

    Rae takes a step towards the gun. Mark does nothing.

    RAE: I don’t care what they did to my father.
    MARK: I wasn’t talking about him.

    Rae could reach down and pick up the gun. Finish this. But she does nothing.

    Mark wheels himself to the bed, picks up the gun, and ejects the clip.

    MARK: You climbed eighteen floors to steal a bar of chocolate. I could use that. And you won’t get sold to anyone. Or you could leave my watch – no one will trade for that old thing – take the chocolate, and climb back down among the savages.

    He wheels himself back towards the bathroom. Leaving her to decide.

    1. robbie says:

      Dang, Debbie! I want to see this movie!

      1. Debbie Moon says:

        If I can get all my world-building sorted and get it written, one day you will! Anyone got a spare $200 million? :)

        1. kathrynk says:

          So is this something you are working on? So intriguing! This scene did some heavy lifting, tons of info and leaves us wanting even more. I know what you mean about “world-building.” I’m working on a story bible, turning a feature into a pilot. Probably should have had my “world” sorted out already, but the bible is making me go deeper. Good luck!

  4. Sorry this is a little long… I didn’t have time to make it shorter.

    Have at it.

    ——

    INT. MAKEUP TRAILER – DAY

    Melody Powers at her makeup table, stares into the mirror as she
    paints her eyelids. Wendy’s behind her, wig in hand.

    MELODY (V.O.): The thing about a direct op is that there’s really no
    way to be subtle. In my experience, you have to just embrace this
    fact and be as bold and bright as possible.

    She applies a tube of fire engine red lipstick.

    MELODY (V.O.): And while it’s nice to have an Oscar nominated makeup
    artist slash costume designer at your disposal, a girl can get all she needs
    from the makeup counter at Bloomingdales.

    Wendy attaches a back length platinum blonde wig. Brushes it out.

    MELODY (V.O.): The trick to drawing attention to yourself is to
    embody someone’s fantasy figure…

    Melody slips her stockinged feet into lucite fuck-me platforms with eight
    inch heels. Stands up looking like a $1000/hr Wagnerian Goddess.

    MELODY (V.O.): You won’t believe it, but clandestine services is
    Frederick of Hollywood’s number one customer… swear to God.

    INT. GUSTAV’S, VIENNA – NIGHT

    Upscale joint where even the fucking coffee costs $200 a cup.

    Towering over the wait staff, Melody strides in like a model on a
    catwalk. Dragon tattoo snakes around her leg.

    MELODY (V.O.): Get everyone to stare at your ass, you’re doing good.

    We see Melody’s face, those bright red lips, eyes shielded by an
    expensive pair of designer shades.

    MELODY (V.O.): By the way, don’t forget to hide your eyes. You’d be
    amazed how easily people recognize each other that way.

    Melody arrives at a table where HANS MANNHEIM (late 50s), oozing with
    wealth and little else, entertains a pair of high-end escorts.

    MELODY:(in German) Danny Strauss sends his regards.

    His two companions shriek and scatter in terror, as Melody’s gold plated
    Baby Eagle flashes like lightning in the warm restaurant light.

    BLAM! BLAM!, two shots to Hans head, each one thundering like a cannon.

    MELODY (V.O.): Just remember, all this is also a performance. How you dress
    and look, each action and choice you make is designed to direct people away
    from the things that can identify you. If you can, try to get the audience involved.

    As the other diners dive for cover, Melody ruffles through Han’s
    Armani jacket,
    reaches into his inside pocket, retrieves three phones.

    Melody turns around and marches towards the exit, as a stolen
    paramedic truck screeches to a halt outside.

    MELODY (V.O.): And once you’ve burned the image you want people to
    see into their minds, get the hell out.

    Melody bundles into the back. It speeds away, siren blaring.

    INT. PARAMEDIC TRUCK – NIGHT

    Sparky drives. Melody kicks off her heels, hands Pete the phones.

    Wendy helps Melody with the blonde wing and hands her a hot towel,
    which she uses to remove her makeup and leg tattoo. Instantly,
    Melody transforms from whore to girl next door.

    MELODY (V.O.): Disguise is misdirection. Once you have people
    looking for one kind of person, you have to be the exact opposite.

    Melody rips off her call-girl clothes, which Wendy grabs and places
    into a clothes sack, puts on a One Direction t-shirt, homely
    sweater, worn jeans that she tucks into flat heeled boots.

    MELODY (V.O.): If the police start chasing a six foot two amazon
    gunwoman, it’s best to look like a five foot four college student.

    EXT. WATERFRONT – NIGHT.

    Empty lot except for a pair of black sedans, open steel barrel.
    The paramedic van rolls in silently. The crew get out.

    Wendy takes the clothes sack, puts it into the barrel full of
    newspaper, empties a can of lighter fluid into the can and puts a
    match to the lot. The barrel ignites into flame.

    She nods for Melody to throw those lucite heels into the fire.
    Sadly, Melody does so. Flames turn blue.

    MELODY: (slighly tearful) Bye girls, we had fun… I’ll miss you.

    Team splits into pairs, get into the sedans and drive off. A few
    moments and the ambulance explodes into searing white fire.

    MELODY (V.O.): And after all that… when you’ve gotten people to
    run around chasing their tails… then you disappear without a trace.

    1. kathrynk says:

      Nice! You have a meta-thing going where you’re doing what she’s saying, distracting us into thinking one thing while what’s happening is totally different.

      1. Thanks… just trying out a bit for a tv show about an international movie star who’s also the govt’s best secret agent. (i.e what if in real life Jennifer Garner really was Sydney Bristow?)

        Here, I was going for one of those Burn Notice narrated “educate the audience about spycraft” set pieces.

  5. Aurélien Lainé says:

    INT. LAB 3-72 – DAY

    AGENT THWARTSON (40s), thin, dark hair, suit on, walks side by side with PR GROET (50s), lab
    blouse on and an annoying “I know it all” expression on his face, inside a lab filled with petri
    dishes and high-tech 3D printers.

    PR GROET (Strong Swedish accent): Instead of traditional ink or even a material like, say, plastic,
    the 3D printer cartridge contains something called bioink

    AGENT THWARTSON: Bioink? What’s that?

    Pr Groet stops and faces Agent Thwartson. He bring his hands forward, uncomfortably close to his
    interlocutor’s face and moves his fingers like puppets.

    PR GROET: It’s hundreds of thousands of live cells mushed together to form ink.

    Agent Thwartson waves the professor’s hands away from his face, clearly annoyed.

    AGENT THWARTSON: And then what?

    PR GROET: Well, once printed in the desired shape, the bioink particles naturally fuse to form living tissue.
    You could make it look like anything you want and taste like anything you want too.

    They stop nearby a box surrounded by 3D printing equipment. Pr Groet opens the box.

    PR GROET: Remember these greens peas tasting like chocolate in England so kids agree to eat them?

    AGENT THWARTSON (disgusted): No.

    Pr Groet picks up an Earth worm from the box and throws it into his mouth. He looks at a nauseated
    Agent Thwartson with a smile.

    AGENT THWARTSON: Oh God!

    PR GROET: Garlic lobster, fantastic. Want one?

    Agent Thwartson covers his mouth with a handkerchief, muffling his voice.

    AGENT THWARTSON: Hell no.

    The professor closes the box, disappointed. They resume their walk.

    PR GROET: Once printed in the desired shape, the bioink particles naturally fuse to form living tissue.
    This process of bioprinting biomaterials is similar to attempts to print artificial organs for transplants –
    but the result could well end up in your frying pan, or your local fast food store for that matter.

    AGENT THWARTSON (still recovering): How does that even remotely connect with the Brunsper case?

    They finally arrive to the end of the row where a much bigger 3D printer finishes up a piece.

    PR GROET: If you can print food, and in your case burgers, with only bioink then you don’t need cows
    anymore. Now, if you don’t tell anyone that you’re printing burgers but you keep your meat factories
    running…

    TING. Printing finished.

    Pr Groet opens the printer’s door and gets a perfect double cheeseburger out.

    PR GROET: Then you get a fully integrated and transparent-

    AGENT THWARTSON: -Money laundering business.

    Pr Groet brings the burger to his mouth with a smile.

    PR GROET: Bon appétit.

  6. EXT. OVERLOOKING SANTA INEZ RIVER – DAY

    Zeke and Jeremiah look into the canyon and to the rushing river below.

    In the background we hear the rumble of a dozen sets of hooves.

    JEREMIAH: That’s got to be two hundred feet, easy… and these
    saddle bags gotta weigh sixty pounds each.

    ZEKE: Closer to eighty, yup.

    JEREMIAH: Zeke, you know you’re like the brother I never had —

    ZEKE: — You’ve got three brothers.

    Jeremiah glares at Zeke.

    JEREMIAH: …and you know I trust you more than anyone on this world
    ‘cept my mama. But this ain’t much of a plan, Zeke. That’s pretty rough
    water down there.

    ZEKE: (eyeballs Jeremiah) You got a better? ’cause that posse is
    gonna be here in a split and they was down right insistent we give
    back the gold we liberated from that bank.

    Jeremiah shakes his head. He doesn’t have a better plan.

    ZEKE: Jere, poster says dead or alive, and for those men, dead’s a lot
    less trouble.
    (beat)
    Way I see it, we wait for the posse, they definitely shoot us and throw
    our corpses in the river, or… we take our chances and jump, and let the
    river take us across the border… Either way we’re gonna end up wet.

    A pistol shot rings out in the air a few hundred yards away.

    POSSE LEADER (O.S.): Come out with your hands up, and you have my
    word we’ll make it quick.

    Posse tries to stifle its laughter.

    ZEKE: It’s now or never, Jere. As someone once said.. Do or do not,
    there ain’t no tomorrow.

    Jeremiah ponders for a moment, grins and nods.

    JEREMIAH: Shit. There ain’t no choice at all.

    ZEKE: Just remember, when you’re down there, try and grab hold of a log.

    The pair of them take a running head start and jump…

  7. Scott says:

    Interesting how most of these scenes involved bringing in some Bit Of Business (BOB) to create entertainment. For example, Debbie has the gun between Mark and Rae. So while the exposition goes down, we – the reader – are left to wonder: Who is going to get the gun first? That is a great way to ‘shroud’ the exposition.

    Good work, all!

  8. kathrynk says:

    Hey guys, made myself write mine before looking at the others. I’ll submit feedback later.

    INT. INCLINE SPORTS – NIGHT

    A few people, mostly young men, stand in the open middle space of the gym, looking up.

    Although the room seemed empty, rock-climbing walls occupy the sides.Thick pads lie under the walls.

    Each wall is a different bright color with slants and angles. Each wall is speckled with multi-colored “knobs” of various shapes, sizes, and colors — holds for hands and feet.

    JASON, 26, scans the walls until he finds BEN, 26. Ben is halfway up a wall, bouldering — no ropes.

    Jason takes a deep breath and starts to climb towards him.

    Ben looks down.

    BEN: Hey man, I didn’t know you were coming.

    Ben holds his position.
    Jason continues to climb carefully.

    JASON: Yeah, I…need the exercise.

    BEN: Yeah?

    JASON:Beer belly — ooph.

    Jason pulls himself up with effort. His hands now level with Jason’s feet.

    JASON: Too much time at Mel’s.

    Ben nods and starts to make a move up.

    JASON: You been there lately?

    Ben stops, looks down.

    BEN: No, why would I?

    Pause while Jason thinks.

    JASON: Music. Like tonight, they had Cicada Killers.

    BEN: No, thanks.

    Ben makes the next move up. Jason tries to follow and falls onto the mat.

    JASON: Shit!

    BEN: You okay?

    Jason nods.

    BEN: You came here from Mel’s? That explains it, go sober up on the kiddie wall.

    JASON: I’m telling ya man, the Cicada Killers are…killing it. You should go. Now.

    BEN: They’re so good, why didn’t you stay?

    Ben looks up, plotting his next move.
    Jason sighs, resolves to try again. Starts climbing.

    JASON: What about Chelsey? She might like to go.

    Ben has stopped. Waits as Jason gets closer.

    BEN: Chelsey don’t care about hearing some crap band at Mel’s.

    Determined, Jason has quickly climbed up level with Ben. He looks Ben square in the eye.

    JASON: You sure about that?

    Ben looks at him, perplexed. Jason can’t hold his gaze, takes a couple of steps down, then jumps.

    Ben is still silent, looks down at Jason.

    JASON: You should just go, that’s all I’m saying.

    1. Is good. Just needs tightening up.

  9. kathrynk says:

    Thanks. Am writing these as warm ups, not letting myself spend much time on them. It’s easy to get intimidated by the quality work being submitted and just not. Laughed when I saw Scott’s comment re. bits of business. I had already written mine, doing the same. Good we all avoided “sitting on the couch talking” scene.

  10. […] [suggested by Mark Walker]” which doubles as my response to “September is Scene-Writing Month: Day 12” (September 18th) prompt: “Write an exposition scene…that is […]

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