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Permaculture Principles Enlighten the Screenplay Writing Process – Integrate Rather than Segregate

January 31, 2013

Wikipedia says, “By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.”

This seems self explanatory. An aspiring screenwriter could turn the above statement into a mad libs game, replacing “things” with “characters.”

I was recently writing a scene with multiple characters and one character seemed to fall into the shadows. This can happen, from time to time, and it’s important to not forget about a character in such a situation.

Other characters may be carrying the scene, but if it’s important for the character in the shadows to be present, simply ask yourself, “What is this character doing while the other characters are carrying the scene?” If it’s vital for the other characters to carry the scene and the falling-in-the-shadows-character to be present, figure out one thing this person is doing, feeling, thinking, then sneak it into the scene. Integrate rather than segregate.

Of course, there’s the possibility that a falling-in-the-shadows-character is not necessary in a given scene. Potentially, such a character is extraneous to a scene and should be removed from it. But, if you determine they are supposed to be in the scene, integrate them. It could be as simple as one action line or bit of dialogue, but an integrated scene is better than a segregated scene.

When you integrate the disparate elements of your formulating scene, you provide your focal points extra ammunition. The main characters (within the context of the scene) have more to play off of, more to respond to. Not only will your characters appreciate this, your eventual actors will appreciate this too.

So, integrate, but don’t do it superfluously. Don’t throw a bunch of random characters into a scene as a means of integration. That is not the point. A scene should only contain what it needs to contain. Just as a script should only contain what it needs to contain. This can be a tough balancing act, I suppose, but a worthy exercise, nonetheless.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

Is anyone or anything falling into the shadows? If so, is that person or element necessary? If not, eliminate it. However, if it is necessary, why is it falling in the shadows? How can I integrate this element more, even if just a little bit?

I think this approach will make your scenes, and your script, more dynamic.

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From → Permaculture

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