How To Write A Great Scene  –  Shannan E. Johnson

Film Courage: How do you write a great scene?

Shannan E. Johnson, Writer/Instructor/Script Consultant: I think you should look at your scenes like you look at the whole screenplay and figure out the cause and effect of what does this scene cause to happen and how is it the effect of what happened before it? Understanding that in every scene there is a goal just like there is in the entire screenplay. The only reason we are seeing this scene is because it’s getting you closer to or further away from your goal.

If you look at it like there is a goal that has to be reached so that you can get to the next thing that gets to the next thing that gets to the next thing then you end up not having scenes that are back to just regular activity instead of intentional action or even considering from an actor’s point of view when they are going to play out that scene, one of them is winning right? Somebody is going to win in this thing (in this scene) it’s kind of like it’s a fight. Ding! Ding! Ding! In this corner these characters are going to come and whatever it is that they are saying to each other someone is going to win emotionally, someone is going to lose. Someone might physically win, someone might lose. But what that means is now that emotional journey that I was on has been changed. Again, it’s the cause and effect…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

 

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About Shannan:

After grad school I became a junior creative executive at NBCUniversal at the Syfy Channel. I was there for the rebrand. Remember Sci Fi? Yeah, not really. Anywho, it was my job to help writers and producers take their ideas from pitch to production. I co-exec’d on Alphas, Being Human, Haven, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, and more Syfy dramedies. This is how I honed my skill in all stages of the screenwriting process…(read more here).

 

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