TV CHEWS UP STORY
The fundamental rule is that every scene should move the story forward.
GOAL DRIVEN PROTAGONISTS
If your protagonist has a clear, specific goal – IE to get the guy; or to cheat on their exam, this help focus every scene. Their goal should drive every inch of action.
SHINE A LIGHT ON YOUR CHARACTER
Even better, if each scene has a second layer. YES, it definitely needs to move the story forward, but if it can also achieve a second, or third dramatic layer, you shoud be proud. You can shine a light on your characters’ flaw; highlight a strength; hint at a troubling back story. Maybe you want to provoke a reaction from your viewers, make them laugh or cry. Just DON’T halt the story.
My pet hate: when writers describe characters moving from A to B. Unless during that car journey they encounter an obstacle; run over their girlfriend’s cat; find a dead body in a suitcase on the side of the road – these scenes kill your momentum. Use dramatic devices like JUMP CUTS, we don’t need to see how anyone gets to the next location unless it moves the story forward.
DOES THE SCENE EARN ITS PLACE?
Hopefully, people are going to spend money, effort and energy shooting this scene. A crew of at least ten will shoot it, post production will work on it, actors will have to learn their lines. Make sure every scene is worth it.
BROAD CITY PILOT
Check out this episode of BROAD CITY – notice how every scene moves the story forward AND add character layers, setting up future episodes…
YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR PACE AND MOMENTUM!
Always ask the question: Is this the scene moving the story forward?