Make Every Scene Interesting By Constantly Posing Problems

Here’s one way to write a boring scene. Try to mimic real life and write a scene that duplicates real life such as trying to find a parking spot. The reason why real life is so dull is because it rarely poses problems that we must overcome.

So if you want to write scenes that grab and hold our attention, pepper your scenes with lots of problems that don’t get resolved within that scene. This forces us to wait until another scene to find the answer.

Study the following scene from “Back to the Future.” In this scene, Marty returns to Doc’s house and the following problems happen:

  • Back in 1955, Marty catches Doc rewinding and studying the 1985 video where Doc is terrified when the terrorists find him. (This problem is never resolved in this scene, making us wait for its resolution in a much later scene.)
  • Doc shows Marty his plan to power the time machine with the lightning strike from the clock tower, but this demonstration bursts into flames, making Marty doubt that Doc’s plan can work.
  • Lorraine, Marty’s mom, suddenly arrives, and asks if Marty will take her to the dance. This pays off an earlier scene where Marty thought he got his father, George, to successfully ask Lorraine to the dance.

This is how a novice writer would likely have written this scene:

  • Marty arrives at Doc’s house.
  • Doc shows Marty his demonstration for how to use the lightning strike to power the time machine.
  • The demonstration would work.

And that would be a completely and utterly boring scene.

Every scene should serve multiple purposes by introducing problems for the hero to overcome and setting up future events. If a scene only serves one purpose, it’s a wasted scene. Make sure a scene serves more than one purpose so that way your overall story will become stronger.

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