The Scene: What Is It and What Makes it Work

At its most basic, a scene is a story telling unit.  Yeah, I know.  That definition has never done a lot for me either.  Its the ultimate non-defining definition.

anatomy of a sceneA little bit better is that a scene takes place in a specific place at a specifice time.  Jump forward a day or change locations and you’ve started a new scene.

It sounds pretty simple but anyone who has tried writing fiction knows just how complicated it can be. Fortunately, writers and movie buffs alike can study how scenes work using the New York Times feature, “Anatomy.”

In a scene from “How to Train Your Dragon, 2,” Director Dean DeBlois discusses what this particular scene reveals about Hiccup and Toothless, the backstory and motivation.

I really like the ones where they discuss mistakes — such as letting an egg fly through the door of an expensively decorated home or a rubber “stunt” egg bouncing through the background of a shot (The Fault in Our Stars).

Obviously what each director chooses to talk about will vary from movie to movie but take a look and see if you don’t come out of it with a stronger feel for what makes a scene.