Block of a Story
If you went home and told a friend today that one
of your classmates, Trudy, "Made a scene in the school cafeteria with her
boyfriend," your friend would know what you meant. Trudy had an argument
with him, or gave him a kiss, or something like that. Whatever happened,
it was in a setting: the cafeteria. It involved some bit of drama: an argument
or a kiss. It lasted about three minutes before her boyfriend left to cool
off. Those are the same things that a screenplay scene are about.
The scene is the fundamental building block of the
screenplay. A scene is an unbroken piece of dramatic action that takes
place in one setting. In other words, if you change to a different place
or time, it's a new scene.
Scenes in modern popular movies last an average of
two minutes. They can last from a few seconds to several minutes, if needed.
Sometimes scenes just give information, like seeing a shot of a car speeding
to get somewhere. But main scenes are like little stories. There is usually
some conflict - conflict is the heart of drama. Tension builds until one
character changes directions or decides to change things. Usually at least
one character will change emotional states during the scene. He enters
happy, leaves mad. She enters aloof, leaves touched.
Following are descriptions of three example scenes
from the example story, Prom
Example 1: Shaun and Tim are leaving the school.
Shaun's sister, Elizabeth, passes him with her boyfriend, John, and coyly
asks Shaun if he has a date for prom yet, making him feel bad. Dave the
Geek walks by and Tim says to Shaun, "At least we're not Geeks. Geeks never
get a date." Laura comes toward them with a car full of girls. Shaun says,
"I wish I could get a date with Laura." Laura waves to Dave. Shaun's and
Tim's eyes bulge. Shaun drops his books onto the sidewalk and dismally
trudges across the grass toward the gym.
Example 2: Following the preceding scene:
Shaun enters and sits alone on the bleachers watching basketball practice.
One player throws him a ball and asks, "Did you get back on the team?"
Shaun answers, "I can't - grades are too low." Discouraged, Shaun hands
the ball back and leaves.
Note in the preceding scenes that Shaun changed emotional
states: wistful to dismal. Shaun changed direction, from wanting to date
Laura to despair (but not intensely). There was conflict which built tension:
Shaun expressed his desire for a date with Laura, which was increased by
seeing Laura wave to Dave. See if you can identify the conflicts, rising
tension, and changing emotional states, and changes in direction in the
Example 3: Shaun arrives at Laura's house
for the first time, ready to impress her with hard to get tickets to a
concert and to ask her for a date. He quickly pulls on a sweater as he
leaves his car. Laura opens the door and smiles at him. He smiles at her,
then sees over her shoulder. Dave rises from a table, waves, and goes to
another room. Shaun is lost for words and Laura stares at him expectantly,
finally saying, "Did you want something?" Dave comes to the door and says,
"Shaun, you have your sweater on wrong side out." He looks down at it,
sees the binding, and lies, "No... It's... meant to be this way." Dave
smiles at him and says, "Now we know why you do so poorly in geometry.
You don't know the inside of a circle from the outside." Dave and Laura
laugh. Laura asks, "Do you want to come in?" Shaun replies, "I, uh, no..."
He backs away, stumbling down the first step, and steps into a flower box,
his arms flailing in all directions. "Some other time." He quickly leaves
as Dave and Laura collapse with laughter.
1) Drama, or dramatic action, is the result of:
2) Gripping stories must have (I'm sure you want it
to be gripping):
b. Conflicting character actions.
c. Conflicting situations.
d. A kiss. A kiss is just a kiss, but it can sure
create a scene. Whew!
e. Um... I like them all.
a. Conflict, which produces tension.
3) Conflict is:
b. More of the above to make it really captivate
c. All of the above.
a. When you argue with your brother over
b. When your character wants something, and it is
out of reach.
c. When the good guy wants something, and the bad
guy won't let him have it.
d. When the bad guy wants something, and the good
guy won't let him have it.
e. Yes to all of them.
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