Make Every Scene Interesting

Every scene needs to be interesting in some way to keep the story moving forward. The simplest way to make a scene interesting is to create conflict between characters in a scene. Scenes are boring without conflict so if there’s no conflict, that scene must go or be rewritten. If you lookout deleted scenes in your favorite movies, you can see that often times those deleted scenes lack conflict and/or repeat information that other scenes provide.

James Cameron scripts tend to include lots of scenes that ultimately get deleted. In “Terminator 2,” there’s the scene where the evil Terminator has taken the appearance of John Connor’s foster mother and turns his arm into a sword to kill the husband. This scene tells us everything that the evil Terminator has wiped out the foster mother and father.

Yet a deleted scene shows the evil Terminator exploring the house after killing the father and turning back into the policeman. The evil Terminator walks past a bathroom where the real foster mother lies dead. Then the evil Terminator explores John Connor’s bedroom and discovers a letter from Sarah Connor with a return address of the asylum where she’s being held. This tells the evil Terminator that Sarah Connor is in an asylum and so that’s why the evil Terminator goes there.

Notice that this deleted scene lacks conflict though. The evil Terminator simply strolls through the house unopposed because everyone’s dead. There’s no action so the scene is dull. Even worse, an earlier scene has the good Terminator warning John Connor that the evil Terminator will try to find him by impersonating Sarah Connor so they shouldn’t go near her. The deleted scene lacks conflict and repeats information another scene provides, which is why that deleted scene is completely unnecessary.

Conflict doesn’t have to involve physical fights, gunfire, or explosions. It can simply be two people disagreeing on something. In “Logan Lucky,” the hero goes into a bar where his brother works as a bar tender. The brother starts talking about the family curse and the hero tells him to stop telling the same story over and over again. It’s a minor conflict but far more interesting than simply hearing tow characters agreeing with each other.

In “Don’t Breathe,” there’s a scene where the hero is at home with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Immediately the mother starts insulting the hero and cutting her down as a whore. Conflict always makes a scene interesting because fighting is interesting and we want to know what will happen.

In “Little Miss Sunshine,” one family member attempted suicide by slitting his wrists after his gay lover went with another man. Then this family member runs into his old gay lover in a gas station and hides hide bandaged wrists behind his back to avoid talking about it. It’s a minor part of the story but that scene is still interesting because of the conflict.

When rewriting your screenplay, examine every scene and look for ways to inject conflict between characters. The conflict can be minor or massive, but it must be there.

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