I’m sitting on my deck working on the rewrite. It’s coming good, and the scenery and beautiful weather are helping. Enjoy!
I had a fascinating session with one of my private students who handed in the first act of her screenplay. She was proud of how short each scene was, and brevity is definitely a goal when writing, whether a screenplay or an email!
However, the danger of writing short is that the scene can end before the conflict has been fully developed and resolved. In this case, the writer was 4 for 4! What was good was that the direction that the scene could be taken in was clear and because she is talented, interesting, and exciting. We used the template of The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting to project the rest of the scene and to outline it. She was excited to get back to work.
The 4MQS can help you determine whether your scene is in the right shape and covers the necessary dramatic material. The technique is simple.
1. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
2. Write out a rough draft of the scene. Focus on writing the dialog rather than worrying about description.
3. Take a walk or otherwise distract yourself briefly.
4. Determine which character is driving the scene.
5. Answer the 4MQS for the character’s dream and nightmare.
6. Determine what he or she will do to fulfill the dream.
7. Determine whether or not the character succeeds, fails, or something else happens.
8. Go to your scene and physically draw lines to delineate the four movements of the scene.
This technique is foolproof. If you’re missing any of the elements, you know where there’s work to be done. If you can’t figure out where the conflict is, you probably don’t need the scene at all. If there’s important information to be conveyed, you can move it into another already existing scene.
I don’t do this much prep for every scene, only the important ones. I once complained to my dentist that I didn’t like flossing my teeth. She said, “Don’t worry, just floss the ones you want to keep.” It’s up to you to decide what’s important.
I’m excited to share Joke on a Stick, Episode #83. Check out the featured clip below. Subscribe and laugh for free!
Please note that I’ll be taking two weeks off to finish my rewrite, so I look forward to reporting back with good news on August 20th.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz