Posted: June 5th, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »


One of the first rules of conventional storytelling is that every part of the story should exist for a reason. This probably reminds you of growing up with your asshole older sister, hoping that each painful setback will ultimately bring you a peaceful ending. Like after she goes away to college maybe, who knows. The same is true in screenwriting, where the demand for pathos and meaning is somehow even greater. Therefore, every scene should exist to tell us what is happening (the SCENE), and also show us something about the character (Reason). Again, this is not unlike getting together around the dinner table, where the simplest of statements probably contain at least 10 other implications that you‘ll have to deal with.

Here are some examples:

SCENE 1The main character asks if she can borrow her mother’s clothes for a date.

Reason: This shows how the main character not only feels more comfortable wearing her mom‘s clothes than her own, but that she’s really looking forward to the date.
Reason your sister might make up: This shows how the main character is totally selfish and doesn’t treat Mom with respect. Remember that purple blouse that I gave Mom at Christmas? Yeah, she totally just like stole it, and now Mom probably doesn’t even fit in it anymore. It’s total B.S.

SCENE 2At a nice family dinner, an older girl tells her parents to pass the salad. She picks out only the grape tomatoes and cheese and eats that.

Reason: This shows that the older girl is an extremely picky eater and also isn’t very polite, since she doesn’t say “thank you” or “please.”
Reason your sister might make up: I bet Jessie’s so jealous of me eating so healthy. Look at all that rice on her plate. What a fatty!

SCENE 3The family unloads the car while dropping the older sibling off at college. When younger girl takes out a cardboard box filled with pink picture frames, the older sibling chides her, “Don’t touch my stuff!”

Reason: This shows that the older sibling is very protective of her possessions and perhaps stressed out, being in a new setting.
Reason your sister might make up: I never expected I was going to miss her this badly. Now that it’s time to go, I have no idea how to show it. Give me the box. I’ll keep it safe for later.

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