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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Build Your Story World

Sample Movie Deconstruction (3)

Jordan E. Rosenfeld says that a scene “is not a singular thing, but a sum of all the parts of great fiction.”

When we are developing our stories we often write out scene lists that undergo major revision and polish as our novels take place.  Or, when a draft is done we read back to see where the shifts are.

A scene can be only a few sentences or a long chapter. It shifts for a variety of reasons: different location, change of POV character, passage of time, atmosphere, tone, and many other factors.

However, each scene happens in a moment of time and its sequence is connected by an idea, or purpose, or focus, which we’ll examine more later. It’s interesting then to read through a scene list in a movie and see what titles or markers are used to define them—at least to the audience. I often wonder if the writers and filmmakers have a separate list.

Have you ever gone back to a movie looking for a particular scene, checked the episode list and still had not idea where in the movie exactly it happened. Or checked out a scene list before watching a movie to see if it looks interesting. Some lists are quite straightforward and some ambiguous.

Here’s a sample list from the middle section of the series Smash: 9) Hell on Earth, 10) Understudy, 11) The Movie Star and 12) Publicity. The last three appear to make a connection, but the first leaves the viewer with a question. And, in fact the other three may have nothing to do with our expectations.

Journal Prompt:

1.     Write out the scene or episode list from your movie in sequence.

2.     What focus word would you put next to each line?

Share: Which title on your list seems concrete and which ambiguous?

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