Senin, 04 Mei 2009

Scene transitions

This is something that I've been thinking about over the last few days. A good scene transition should flow well. Here's some examples from my own work. They're simplified, cutting out description and such.

You coming?
Loki and Rider stand up and head inside.

What is it with you and that amulet, Hannon?
It's Captain by the way (more dialogue)
Loki and Rider walk into the shop.

This is a good example because we join the scene while Hannon and Nix are in mid-conversation. It creates a sense of realism and takes you right into the story. It also flows well as the two previous characters enter - we know where and when we are.

The next example isn't so much a scene change but there is a transition to speak of:

You know I wouldn't, Alex. Must be that woman's instinct thing. You know how they are; all emotions and feelings. And you can never get them to shut up.
At the back of the group, Loki and Nix are in deep conversation, but it's a little one-sided.
All I'm saying is if the fucking Yanks can't beat these bastards down, what chance do we have?
Nix has a desperate 'heard it all before' look stretched across her face but Loki doesn't notice.
It's been what...over a year since we lost contact with 'em? I mean, when are they going to charge in all guns blazing?

This transition has two purposes:

1) Exposition - I needed to explain more about the world my characters are living in and its state - hence the mention of the Americans in my zombie story.
2) Character development - from this transition, we know that Remy is a bit of a sexist pig (although he is joking, so is he really?) and that Loki is a thick-skinned jerk.

I think the transition works for one simple reason. I have a character comment on how women never shut up, then cut to a conversation where the man won't shut up. Just a bit of comedic irony to keep the audience smiling.

Here's another example that helps the scenes flow together well. It also lets the audience know exactly where and when each character is:

Tonya sees the Slayers moving slowly across the street below and bangs on the window. Then she sees a table across the room.


The Slayers creep across the road. Suddenly there's a loud CRASH as a table smashes out of the window above.

A common scene transition in television is to use a voiceover leading into the next scene. Let's say your characters have just said something and are now pondering on that thought. Then the sound of the next scene starts as we hang on the previous moment. We get audio before visual. Like so:

Jack and John stare at each other, contemplating.
We're doomed.

Jill and Ben sit at opposite ends of the bed.
What do you mean we're doomed?
Like I say.

See what I mean? A little transition to do several things - keep the audience gripped, not have too many long silences and cut time down while not skimping on the contemplating moment.

These are just a few examples of what I think are good scene transitions. I don't think people think about them enough, but the way you move through your story is very important - get that wrong and the flow of the script can be lost. Think about it.

Happy writing!

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