I’ve missed my end-of-month self-imposed deadline for In the Mouth of the Lion. The script has neared completion like the tide rushing onto a beach, ebbing and flowing between 106 and 119 pages. I hit page 120, briefly, then killed a few of my favorite exchanges and one nifty but not necessary scene, and sank back to 117 pages. I’m now at 119, but that doesn’t mean I’m a page away from being done. Far from it.
I have five short scenes to do, now. I’ve learned a useful technique for finishing a complex scene that threatens to take me down a too-long rabbit hole: Stop.Right.Here. All the little intricacies, the conflicting story elements, the urge to show how much I know, the nuances of character, the cabezas parlantes, are brushed aside in an instant: Hey, I’ll just stop right here.
If only it were always that easy. What are your favorite tools for getting a scene under control?