Screenwriting : Stuck and/or feel stale... by Randa Karambelas

Randa Karambelas

Stuck and/or feel stale...

Hey Guys - when stuck with a scene, where it's going okay, but you want to kick it up a notch, do you have any tricks? I'm feeling stale, so should I change location, make one of my characters drunk, what?!?! Looking for suggestions. Thanks in Advance. xoxox

Anthony Cawood

I use Writer's Emergency Pack - from screenwriter John August, it's designed for exactly that sort of situation.

Randa Karambelas

Thanks guys. Appreciate the feedback. I am going to try both right now...ready, set...I am off. Well, one I ordered, the other I can actual do now. :)

Fiona Faith Ross

When I'm stuck like that, I abandon that scene, and I move on to a section of the story I've been looking forward to. I work through that, and when I go back to the original problem, it's usually sorted itself out in my head.

Regina Lee

It's impossible to say without knowing details. Sometimes, it's a good idea to add more tension to the sequence - tension appropriate to your genre. Since it's Valentine's Day, I'll use a relationship example. Let's say John is at a bar telling best bud Sam that he can't wait to see his girlfriend Jenny tonight. If you add a scene BEFORE the bar scene showing the audience that Jenny is cheating on him, then the bar scene plays with a lot more tension because the audience is ahead of John and knows that when he gets home, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Bill Costantini

My outline prevents me from getting stuck in a scene. I do get stuck on choosing the right words, though - in dialogue and description. The only way to get unstuck on that is by trying more and more words until I think I've found the right ones.

Owen Mowatt

Have you asked yourself if the scene is even required? Also agree with Regina, very difficult to advise without more details. Any suggestions could interfere with the tone and pace of your story.

Tao Ryan Moua

I put it away or move on to the another scene, and go back to it later.

Rick Mowat

Certainly have been there! Sometimes, though not always, you have to look at the scene really critically and ask yourself if it's actually pushing the script forward. For me a lot of times when I'm stuck it means I'm trying to write something that isn't right for the script (though it could be a good scene in and of itself) and then I have to admit that it's not right and finally delete it. And move on.

Anthony Moore

Simple. Ask yourself one question. "Whats the worst or most unlikely thing that could possibly happen at that moment in the story?" I find that a scene is going dry or stale, I ask myself that one simple question. It can literally take your whole story in a new direction that you hadn't even thought of.

Fiona Faith Ross

Good observation, AM. I always worry about "Deus Ex Machina" though, or does that only apply to forcing the hero to deal with his own problems?

Bill Costantini

CJ - that's really helpful for anyone. Gracias, Amigo.

Zlatan Mustafica

Everyone gets stuck at some Point. I Believe the key to be to not sit there and grind it in your head. Leave it, move forward and as you rewrite and proofread it will come to you. And as you proofread your own work over and over again do it like you´re someone else. Be critical and ask yourself upon Reading every scene. "Does this scene move the story forward? At least that´s the way I do it and it works for me. :)

Andrew Bruce Lockhart

CJ would get my vote if he was running for something.... I tend to follow either of two paths.. keep writing and end the scene knowing I'm going to edit it later... with my "arrive late, leave early" edit hat on - knowing the scene will be cut down and that may solve the issue and make it more focused. That tends to be the way I use the most. Otherwise I try my best to look at the scene and go - what is this developing? Plot or character? Why is the scene here? and in my view CJ's list falls firmly into enabling you to answer those questions....

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Perhaps try this: break away from your outline to ask WHAT IF....? What if instead of answering, she fainted? What if a car skipped a curb and almost killed someone? What if a locked door creaked open? Have fun with these exaggerations to see if it leads anywhere interesting. I'm a playwright + we meditate on the word PLAY.

Zlatan Mustafica

Less is more and simple is always better than complicated.

Randa Karambelas

Thank you all for your thoughts. Every circumstance is different, so many of these I can take and use later. I appreciate everyone's time in responding. Thank you for sharing!

Terri Viani

Agree with Regina, Owen, and Bill. Tough to stay when we're not neck-deep in the story =) but what Bill said, in my experience if I get stuck on where a scene is going it's not a scene problem it's a story prep problem. I'd go back to my outline and index cards and see what needs shoring up or changing before going another step.

Jack Middleton

Pretty sure that the purpose for all scenes is to move the story forward, or to relay information.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

@I stick my finger in a light socket and that really gets my juices going. @CJ: Man, awesome bit of advice. From now on, I will dub that post as the CJ Walley scene stimulator. That's even better than sticking your finger in a lot socket and probably much less painful.

Regina Lee

Hi CJ, thanks for posting: "We have to remember that when an experienced screenwriter like John August mulls over scenes, his subconscious will be processing a lot of rehearsed methodology. For many of us, we need to focus on deliberate practice until the learning becomes second nature." That very helpful statement will make me a more efficient, stronger script consultant and producer when developing with new talent. It's necessary to hear from the other side in order to address those needs. You've given me a piece of that.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

CJ: You are most welcome. One of my big things is trying to help other writers. And today, you've done that in spades.

Jack Middleton

Patricia..... Exactly. If it's a chore to make it work, then it really doesn't work.

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