Make the Audience Feel Emotions in Every Scene

Scenes represent the building block of your story. Although the purpose of every scene is to advance the story, a secondary purpose of every scene is to make the audience experience a strong emotion.

Scenes should never be boring. The main main emotion to evoke is your story’s main genre. For example, horror movies must have as many scenes as possible that convey horror in some way while romance movies must have as many scenes as possible that revolve around finding love.

In the horror movie “Don’t Breathe,” there’s a scene where the girl is in the kitchen with her abusive mother and the mother’s boyfriend. Rather than simply have the characters ignore each other, the scene has the abusive mother belittle and insult the hero while her boyfriend looks on and says nothing. This may not be as horrifying as a serial killer chasing you with a knife, but it’s still a horrifying experience for the hero and the audience who witnesses the hero’s lousy life.

Every story consists of a main genre and a subgenre. In “Ghostbusters, the main genre is comedy and the subgenre is horror. So in the opening scene in “Ghostbusters,” the main emotion is horror when the librarian sees weird things happening around her and finally screams when she sees a ghost.

Then the next scene is humorous as Bill Murray electrocutes a young man to get him away so he can be alone with a pretty co-ed.

In “Ready Or Not,” a bride is stalked by her in-laws on her wedding night. The main genre is horror but the subgenre is comedy. So most scenes show horror such as her in-laws trying to tie her down and stab her in the heart to appease the devil. Yet a few scenes are comical such as when the in-laws try to escape from their fate and explode like bloody bubble bursting.

So identify the main and subgenre of your story and those are the two main emotions every scene should emphasize. What makes a story interesting isn’t a convoluted plot or distinct characters (although that helps). What really makes a story interesting is the constant roller coaster of emotions each scene evokes in the audience.

That constant rise and fall of emotions is what keeps an audience glued to their seats.

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