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06/02/2001 - Scene Flow

Teleplay Tips & Tricks

Scene Flow

Over my years running various TV series I've been amazed at how many professional writers don't understand the basics of good storytelling. In a nutshell, the basic trick in working out your plot is to always remember that the scenes must flow from and to each other in a progression that is logical, surprising, and climactic.

What this means is that everything that happens must grow out of what happened before. It must be inevitable-even though the reader or viewer could never have predicted it. To take a real life example, people who knew Susan Smith could never have predicted that she would kill her two children. But after the deed was done, interview after interview quoted townspeople as saying, "Yes, I could see that's where her feelings led her."

As writers, we have to be able to elicit this same response, and to do it with event after event, each one slightly more "important," more intense, than the one before, until the ultimate intensity is reached with the climax. Guide your characters like an evil God, forcing them into tougher and tougher situations, and you'll have the audience eating out of your hand.


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