1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How do you decide on your order of scenes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ryan Elder, May 11, 2015.

    I am writing a screenplay and having trouble with the first act the most actually. I really feel like I have the second and third act down to what I want. For the first act, it's mostly introducing the characters and their plots, before they all come together, to build into the main plot.

    Chronologically it does not matter what order most of them happen in because it's introducing different characters, with different sides of the story. One does not have to come before or after another in a particular order.

    For example, in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, they decide to introduce Tuco first in one sequence. Then the next sequence moves onto Angel Eyes, and the next sequence that follows after, is also about Angel Eyes. The next sequence after that is back to Tuco, followed by the sequence after, where he meets Blondie. As you can see, in the first five sequences it did not matter what order they were in, chronologically. They could have cut back and forth between the two characters, or they could have introduced Angel Eyes first, before moving onto Tuco and Blondie.

    Or they could have not even introduced Angel Eyes until the second act evening. Yet for some reason, the writers thought this was best.

    In The Dark Knight, it starts out with a scene of the Joker, then the next few scenes are about Batman/Bruce Wayne, fighting crime, and then doing his thing at home and at work. The next few scenes after are all about Harvey Dent.

    In The Departed, we have the scenes that describe Costigan's backstory and when he meets Quinan and Quinan decides to put him undercover, in their office meeting. We have also have Sullivan's back story, and it shows him meeting Donnelly, and his role once promoted to sergeant. Now they could have shown these stories in the same style as The Dark Knight, and show all of Costigans scenes first, and then show all of Sullivans scenes, but they decide to cut back and forth constantly between the two.

    So for my first act, I cannot decide which approach I should take. I am not sure on my order, but more so, I am not sure if I should cut back and forth between characters, or should I show one, then other, then other, all in separate segments. Is their any rules or guides I should follow on how to approach which technique for which type of story?

    Thanks for the info :).
     
  2. Vrisnem
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    Vrisnem Member

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    If your scenes can be mixed and matched at will then I'd question the strength of them as an opening.

    The opening scenes should be used carefully to build the foundation for many aspects of the story. They should serve more than just the purpose of introducing character; they should be used in order to communicate information efficiently and be introducing many aspects of the story simultaneously while also putting emphasis on creating a visual impact. Think about foreshadowing, subtext, setting, tone, theme, etc and how (and in what order) these things also need to presented to the audience.

    Also, it might be worth considering whether or not you're starting the story in the right place. Some stories benefit from a slow build-up but starting with a bang is sometimes more effective.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I wrote my story so that it starts out with a bang. Sorry I should have been specific about this. The first two sequences are a bang, and the rest of the scenes are the result of that bang. However, after when it comes to introducing the results, the next few sequences, can be mixed, and not sure on my approach. I asked two friends so far, and showed them too versions. One said they liked the cutting back and forth version, like The Departed. The other version shows the segments in order, one at a time, and my other friend said she liked that better. She says that even though, each one is presented one a time, it's more effective, because you get a feel of the theme for each segment, and how they contrast with each other. ,
     
  4. Remainder
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    Remainder New Member

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    Personally, I would introduce one character at a time instead of going back and forth. I think you have to be careful with going back and forth between the characters as not to confuse the readers. I think when each character is presented one at a time, the work looks more organized and it also gives the reader the opportunity to have a better understanding of the character.
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    That's true, that's what my friend says so far. It gave her a better understanding when I showed her the second arrangement of scenes, which were one character a time, more so.
     

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