Master screenwriter Bill Wheeler explains how to structure a good scene around plot and character
Key Insights

  • ​​​As Mike Nichols says, ​every scene is a fight, ​a ​seduction or a negotiation.
  • A scene is a contest of sorts: the audience needs to be invested in what happens next
  • A scene is a moment where something changes.
  • Get in late and get out early – only give the audience the information they absolutely need.
  • Exposition is only compelling if it contains new details about a character​. ​
  • Start ​writing indispensable moments to help ​determine ​which scenes must be in your ​film.
  • Write from a place ​that moves you, and then make it entertaining and accessible to an audience.

Ask these questions of a scene:​

  • Does it advance the plot?
  • Does it​ advance the journey of a character​?​
  • Does it advance a shift or change in a key relationship​?​
  • ​Does it advance certain thematic ideas​ about the shape of the world​​​?​

Bill Wheeler has written screenplays for six produced motion pictures. His filmography includes the 2016 Disney release QUEEN OF KATWE starring David Oyelowo and Lupita N’yongo; THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST directed by Mira Nair and starring Rizwan Ahmed; THE HOAX directed by Lasse Hallstrom, and THE PRIME GIG featuring Ed Harris. QUEEN OF KATWE was runner-up for the People’s Choice award at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival and won four NAACP Image Awards. more...

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