Recently I’ve been struggling with a scene in my Red WIP. It has a lot of action and there’s a fight within it. I was struggling because I had a hard time keeping track of the action, reaction and motivation of each character. Various betas had complained that the action slowed when I stopped to have the character react, but at the same time, they didn’t understand the purpose of the fight.
After struggling with the scene for several days, I had a mild epiphany.
What do screenwriters do when they’re planning the layout of a scene? (Especially when creating animated films. I’ve watched a lot of Disney behind the scenes. J ) They create storyboards. They pick out the important parts of the scene – the parts that need the most emphasis or link two thoughts and lay them out side by side.
Although I love colors, I’m not much of an artist. I can draw stick figures. Instead, I wrote out the key points of the scene on notecards, taping them in order on a board I have at home. Of course, I did use different colors to write it out.
All of a sudden, I understood the scene. I was able to slow the action down for myself so that I could understand the actions and reactions of the characters and the necessary motivations. When I finally rewrote the scene, I could speed up the action, but still understand the why behind it.
The storyboard was so successful that I decided to try it again – this time with a scene filled with internal conflict. Again, I was able to slow down the thoughts long enough to understand the why behind it. And I was able to find the actions and details that helped propel the story and conflict forward.
How do you break down your scenes? Do you act? Draw? Outline? What works best for you?