The biggest hurdle many writers must overcome is cultivating smart, witty and fully developed scenes. While many novice screenwriters have excellent foundations for a scene, specific elements typically go missing. Although this screenwriting technique is not mind-blowing, it is essential for a marketable script. When writing your screenplay, and also throughout the editing process, strive to create a noticeable beginning, middle and end to every scene.
Establishing the three primary elements of a story within every scene, your script will be succinct and familiar even with all its unique complexities.
In The Beginning
There are many screenwriting textbooks and lessons available that speak about the importance of the beginning of a film as well as an individual scene. Assuming that you have a small working knowledge of screenwriting, I’m going to forgo the traditional lecture of establishing the setting and character relationships at the beginning of every scene. The reason: sometimes this explanation of this writing truth is not applicable.
Instead of viewing the beginning of every scene in such a traditional fashion, attempt to write the start of every scene with the goal of establishing the subtext and emotional landscape of not only the environment, but also between characters.
Sometimes writers get caught in the trap of writing the beginning of every scene in a similar fashion – setting up the scenario, the environment and “introducing” characters who may or may not be already known. While this may seem like a safe screenwriting method, it is boring and predictable.
Instead, focus on delivering vital information regarding the true purpose of the scene. Don’t spend time establishing the location and characters beyond what is absolutely necessary. Better yet, continue to establish the facts of a scene, but do so in an unpredictable and unique manner. Instead of having the audience learn the name of a character by having the other main character reference them by name (because honestly, how many times in casual conversations do you say your friend or companions name? Not very often), have the names of characters be learned by showing them writing their names on a sign-in sheet or by signing a credit card receipt.
The Middle to the End
The reason this section is shorter than the aforementioned is because the foundational rule and guideline for this screenwriting technique is universal and applicable to the beginning, middle and end of the film. Instead of repeating myself, I want to leave you on this note:
The only monster you must fight to reach the coveted role of a marketable and enjoyable screenplay is the monster of predictability. Don’t try to outfight this monster by being too outlandish in your storytelling methods. Rather, subdue the monster into submission through well-thought out scenes, unique characters and none-too-traveled avenues to reveal common and necessary character/environment information.