Wednesday, December 01, 2021


The static scene is one of the most common mistakes a new writer can make. Characters sitting around eating/drinking/talking isn't visually appealing and can be incredibly dull to watch, especially in feature films. 'But..,' I hear you cry, 'Tarantino did exactly that in his opening scene of RESERVOIR DOGS???' He did, but then he 'is' Tarantino... sadly, the rest of us are just mere mortals.

Both TV and feature films are visual mediums and as such, the visuals take the lead, showing us character and moving the plot forward. If they're not interesting enough to hold the attention of the audience we risk losing them... 'entertainment' is the key word here.

Unfortunately, new writers tend to rely far too much on dialogue heavy scenes to tell their story, trying to entertain the audience's ears without thinking about entertaining them visually. If this is you, and you want to improve your writing quickly and easily, thinking about how your scenes look and what you show rather than tell, will help you achieve this.

I can't remember the screenwriting book I read it in ( I think it may be SAVE THE CAT) or which programme or film the scene is referenced from, but the explanation of the 'Pope in the pool' scene and how to elevate large chunks of expositional dialogue without boring the audience, is a game changer.

The scene described went like this: One of the Pope's advisors has a lot of expositional dialogue to get through to inform the audience of what was going on. This could be a very dull and uninteresting moment but the way the writer approaches the scene makes it interesting, feeding the audience the exposition in such a way they doesn't realise.

The way the writer did this was to have have the Pope, in Speedos, do lengths in the Vatican pool while his aid walked up and down ploughing through the exposition. A boring scene instantly became visually appealing, attractive, giving its audience something unusual, and entertaining enough to ensure they would forgive all of that normally brain numbing tedious exposition.

That's one thing thing you have to do to improve your writing, review those static scenes with people sitting around and talking and figure out how you can set this scene differently to make it visually interesting and not typical, cliché or boring.

Screenwriting isn't just about story and character, it's also about what is on the screen and how you can use your visuals to entertain, inform and move your story forward in an interesting way. Remember the adage, 'SHOW, DON'T TELL!'

Happy writing!

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