So I didn't post yesterday. Real life alarm, a little bit of gaming and suddenly whoosh, no time for the blog, so sorry for that. Anyway, there's something I wanted to talk about, you know, you and me, something tiny but important: Scenes.
Every story and every movie are made of many many scenes; each one of them fills a purpose in the overall story arch. Some of the scenes are there to advance the main plot, others are there to create dazzlement, anticipation and suspense, others are there for the characterisation, and there are many many more motives for the plots.
I, personally, categorise three main types of scenes:
- Exposition Scenes, which are scenes that are used to add information to the audience (the players in our games), and often to set the tone, mood and to place the story in a particular area. The first scenes of Casablanca, where we see the city itself, the French police in action and the rounding of the usual suspects state the tone of the movie, as does the scene with the explainer who steals the money. These scenes usually come at the beginning of the story, although they can come in other places, as in the connection scenes in Memento.
- Spectacle Scenes, which are the scenes that are used to create awe and dazzlement in the audience. The scenes in which we first see the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, or the flight scenes in Superman are great examples of that, they dazzle us, but that's about it. These scenes can also be mesmerizing ones, like the dancing in the rain scene, from Singin' in the Rain. These scenes are there to make us forget that it's only a story, only a game, by trying to catch our attention and imagination.
- Dramatic Scenes are, as the name implies, the most dramatic scenes. All of them contain conflicts, as big or as little as may be, and they are the main ones. These are the scenes in which the characters face their within world, and contrast it with the outer world. Scenes like the decision of Michael Corleone to kill the cop and the drug dealer, Rick's decision to help Ilsa and many other scenes are of this type.
Every scene is not only a building block of the story, but also a story (albeit a short one) wholly by itself. Scenes are not there only to be parts of a complete thing, but should receive the same focus as the overall story. Spectacle Scenes should be big and grandiose, mesmerizing and awing; Exposition Scenes should state the mood and tone of the story, but should also be interesting in and all by themselves; and lastly; Dramatic Scenes should be as dramatic as possible, without overdoing it.
How can we do that? The main 2 tips I can give about it are viewing and reading storytelling mediums where the scenes are in the centre of the storytelling language of the medium, like plays and movies, to see where and how the greatest practitioners use and disuse scenes. The other tip is to practice it a lot, because theory is not enough, and practice is the main way of improvement after the theory is known.