Screenwriting Mash Up – Write Your Scenes Out Of Order


During my previous posts, I mentioned one the merits of breaking down your screenplay into eight workable sequences (or groups of related sequenc) is that you can write your film script out of order. It gives screenwriters a new creative perspective.

Much like all repetitive human activity, linear script writing quickly becomes stale and increasingly comfortable if we write like this all the time. This is similar to “muscle memory” at the gym, where you need to lift increasingly heavier weights to get the desired body building effect. You may also mix up your training regime to boost muscle bulk. Change a few exercises, give your body an extra day of rest.

Write your film script out of order

I’ve suggested changing various environmental elements to fuel your creativity and write more effectively. Efficient screenwriting does not always correlate to duration. If you know the story outline, you can write whichever scenes take your fancy. In any order.

By definition, each scene MUST progress the plot by the protagonist’s decision to follow a course of action, and overcoming/ succumbing to internal and/or external obstacles in their ultimate pursuit of a goal. Even if they provide story exposition

In terms of film scene structure, we’ve learned the value of CONSEQUENTIAL action, or more simply, cause and effect, or SET UP and PAYOFF. Writing scene action is different to writing character activities. Even if you don’t write your scenes in sequence, the writing process of setting up and paying off steers your screenplay toward linearity.

You can start by writing a two page scene outline to give your screenplay a solid foundation. Then you can start filling in scenes in any order you like. Some screenwriters prefer to write the key plot points or set pieces first while others start on page one of their screenplay.

Other script writers prefer to write the easiest scenes first or the most difficult. I sometimes write placeholder scenes which I know I’m going rewrite later because they’re weak or cliched.

Here’s another screenwriting tactic. How about writing a scene or sequence in reverse? Write the payoff first because it’s the easiest.You know which direction the film scene is going in. Then you inch back towards the setup to help you better understand the story logic engine and the character’s motivation to act.

By writing scenes in random order, you unleash all sorts of possible story outcomes and story conflicts, which we may not have thought of previously. It’s not an organic process in terms of human logic because our present creative state is perceived as a product of our past experiences, not future ones.

I can also talk about a 360-degree story engine where screenwriters randomly pinpoint specific places in a character’s timeline and define the events that led to it and what will follow. This is useful during initial brainstorming sessions when the character and plot aren’t set.

So mix it up and keep writing fellow scribes. I guarantee that this process will knock out flat scenes and tighten your script.

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