Since I am neck deep in writing the second season of Gabby Wells television series, my focus has been primarily on screen writing. Writing this season has been more of a challenge than the first one, so I have often sought out inspirational or educational tips from screen writers.
In our previous blog entry we talked posted a memo David Mamet sent to his writing team for the old CBS show The Unit in an attempt to get them to write their scenes more dramatically. That memo inspired me to create a Dramatic Scene Checklist that I’ll be using going forward to sketch out all of the important elements in each scene.
The Checklist is as follows:
- Scene Name – whatever title for the scene you want to give.
- Goal – what is the goal of the scene and/or the characters in the scene
- Obstacle – what gets in the way of achieving the goal.
- Consequence – what will happen if they don’t achieve the goal.
- Time frame – how long do they have to achieve the goal.
- Result – did they achieve the goal or not. If not, what happened.
- Scene Name – Wanda seduces Archie.
- Goal – Wanda need to find out the location of the lock box with the stolen diamonds.
- Obstacle – 1: a jealous Otto sneaks in. 2: Archie’s wife returns unexpectedly. 3: the wife asks about Otto’s car. 4: Wanda realizes she’s lost her necklace with the key to the lock box. 5: Otto reveals his presence and makes up a story. The wife refutes the story. 6: the wife kicks out Otto. Wanda tells Archie to find her necklace, but the wife returns. 7: Wanda sees necklace on ground, reaches for it, but it’s found by the wife. 8: the wife thinks the necklace is a gift for her, loves it.
- Consequence – Wanda will not find the location of the diamonds.
- Time frame – a few days, as the trial of the main thief is about to end.
- Result – Wanda does not find out about the location of the stolen diamonds AND she loses the key to the lock box.
Using this Checklist should help identify any weaknesses in my scenes before I even write them down. I hope, in the end, it makes for a much more dramatic script.