Scene Tips

  The rule in cinematic scene writing is: “In late, out early.” Pick up the scene after it’s really under way.
If you want your thud-and-blunder detective to go question a witness, don’t say, “Mike Bludgeon puts down the phone, locks his office, goes down the elevator, gets in his Ford, drives across town, gets out of the car, goes up on Myles Lishness’s porch, and rings the bell.  Lishness isn’t home. Mike walks around the side…”
Just put in a SLUG LINE [EXT. LISHNESS’S HOUSE – DAY] and pick it up at “Lishness isn’t home. Mike walks around the side…” You get the idea. (The urge to continue this story is very powerful, but I’m ignoring it.)
Similarly, end the scene when it’s clear what the outcome is/will be. It’s okay to be abrupt graphically, to omit the social niceties dialogue, and leave off the predictable wrap up: “See ya, Mike,” and “‘Bye, Fred.” etc.
The same applies to novels. At the start of a scene, ask yourself, “What is the key content of this scene? What do the characters want? What do they need? What do I want to show the reader? What do I want to reveal? What needs to be planted or set up for later?” Get to the meat of the situation, reach your objective, end the scene.
Another way of looking at it is: Every scene has people who want something for that specific scene. When we know who won, we’re done.
“…and finds Lishness sitting in a lawn chair, dead. Mike picks up a book of matches beside the chair. They say HOP SONG’S KOSHER RESTAURANT. Mike lights a cigarette and tosses the matches.”

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