Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting the Scene Down

Sometimes your brain or id or muse just wants to do more than what you're ready for. It's got something it needs to say about whatever story you're tapping out and your hand just can't get it all down faster than what you are "hearing."

A playwriting teach of mine back in my college days (so, so long ago and yes I was a theatre major) told our class that sometimes when working on a scene it's best to leave a little left undone. The psychology behind that idea is that once you completely finish something you may tend to forget it and thus may lose some of the steam you had behind the thought of the scene while you just trying to get it all down.

Leaving the scene somewhat undone allows the mystery of the scene to come back and sometimes can allow your mind to also explore different possibilities to what could come about in that scene or beat or act for that matter. The playwriting teach went as far as to say to leave it sometimes mid sentence. Alittle extreme I'd have to say. Maybe that would work for some people. Me, I don't trust my rust trap of a brain enough to remember those kinda details. So, as a rule, I think it's always good to get it out in some fashion. That way it's there to be worked on down the road but the difference being to understand is how it gets on the screen/paper/ napkin/back of your hand (if that's true really time to get some paper.)

The last few stories I have been worked on I've taken on a system of just getting the basic gist of the scene--be it answering a few basic questions or putting in some very simple dialogue. But leaving it simple. John August touched on this superbly in a post
here on his website a few months ago.

I have taken his advice to heart and even incorporated with
Unk's idea to use Google Notebook to outline a screenplay. Again, another great resource. This should help with uncramping hands as the story gushes forth so and be rest assured the idea is out even if it just a shorthand scribble.