On Scenes: Tidbit from Screenwriting Instructor Rick Reichman

April 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

“The most important element in a  scene is emotion. You have to get the audience to feel what you want them to feel.” —Rick Reichman.

The question is, what do I want them to feel?

Screenwriting instructor Rick Reichman gave a one hour workshop at Bookworks bookstore in Albuquerque, NM. According to Reichman, the American movie is the most popular type of movie in the world, and the reason is what he calls the “Hollywood Script Structure.” This structure is all about scenes, self-contained little stories in and of themselves that are centered on a particular theme or action and contain a beginning, a middle, a climax, and an end.

Each scene contains 7 elements:

  1. Bridging In—Where and when is the scene taking place.
  2. Conflict—Person vs. self, person vs. external, person vs. another person.
  3. Set up—The  direction that the audience initially thinks the scene is going.
  4. Characterization—A little more that is revealed about the characters in the scene.
  5. Exposition—Characters’ backstory, relationships, baggage.
  6. Reversal—Surprising, yet logical turn of events or emotion.
  7. Bridging Out —Once the reversal has caused the emotional reaction, get out.

A lot of what works in a screenplay works in a novel, too. I thought about the scenes in my novel and asked myself, do they contain conflict?  Most of them do, except for a couple of scenes that had been bugging me, and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know why: no conflict. The scenes had been exciting for me to write because they are about experiences that I have never had before, and would really like to have, but that’s my conflict. Not my hero’s. So I’ll be fixing those scenes, in the next rewrite.

Rick Reichman is the author of Formatting Your Screenplay and 20 Things You Must Know To Write A Great Screenplay, available at Bookworks, http://www.bkwrks.com, and on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com. Visit his website at http://www.rickreichman.com.

Reichman will also speak at the upcoming Writers Conference at UNM Continuing Education, April 21st, 2012. Visit http://dce.unm.edu.

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