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Old 09-02-2018, 12:11 PM   #1
Anointed
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Default Breaking up a long scene

It's a comedy and one scene is 10 pages long.

As is, it reads quick and I think hilarious as one continuous scene, but part of me is thinking I have to break it up (even though, honestly I kinda don't want to).

What's the least intrusive way of doing it (having them walk to a different location, add in another scene, etc)?
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Old 09-02-2018, 02:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

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Originally Posted by Anointed View Post
It's a comedy and one scene is 10 pages long.

As is, it reads quick and I think hilarious as one continuous scene, but part of me is thinking I have to break it up (even though, honestly I kinda don't want to).

What's the least intrusive way of doing it (having them walk to a different location, add in another scene, etc)?
It depends on what they're doing now for ten pages and why the scene exists.

If they can just "walk to another room" and continue what they were doing, it sounds like what they're doing is talking and being clever.

If that's the case you may want to consider a shorter scene that accomplishes its specific goal more quickly.

I'm just guessing, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Good luck.
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Old 09-02-2018, 02:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

If it is working, leave it as it is.
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Old 09-02-2018, 02:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anointed View Post
It's a comedy and one scene is 10 pages long.

As is, it reads quick and I think hilarious as one continuous scene, but part of me is thinking I have to break it up (even though, honestly I kinda don't want to).

What's the least intrusive way of doing it (having them walk to a different location, add in another scene, etc)?
Not for nothin', but if you had to like, if you were on the writing team and the head writer gave you orders to cut could you "arrive late" and "get out early" in the scene? Would it still work? Maybe the first shot of the next scene says it all as to where the previous scene left off. Maybe the gaffe comes in there, at the top of the next scene. It could be unspoken, even, make it a picture worth a thousand words.
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Old 09-02-2018, 02:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

10 pages of dialogue? Even that long scene in Matrix 2 between Neo and the Engineer wasn't that long. I think it was 7 minutes (and 7 pages?), but even there, there were a couple of short cutaways to a fight between Trinity and an agent.

Anyway, longest I've done is maybe 6 pages, but there are some tricks that I employed (and I know some don't like the word tricks): A phone call, a TV that plays a news report that one of the conversants wants/needs to listen to, or if it's in a restaurant or pub maybe interrupt them with a waiter appearing with your menus or drinks, or somebody at the next table spilling a drink, etc.

And get rid of your parentheticals that don't matter. On the other hand, if you employ one-line description paragraphs to break up the dialogue, you can convert those to parentheticals and greatly shorten such a long scene.

Also, as suggested, make sure you're using get-in-late, get-out-early. You might be able to chop any introductions and goodbyes at the beginning and end, and save quarter page each.
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Old 09-02-2018, 02:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

Cut to a view outside as a mailman gets attacked by a dog in the street or something equally stupid and unrelated.

RESUME on Larry and Moe, but now Moe has the TV remote and is flicking through the channels while Larry seethes.

MOE
Finders keepers.

LARRY
Aw come on, I was watching--

MOE
Losers weepers.

...he brain-farted. Meaning something's changed when you resume on your heroes.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

Quote:
Originally Posted by StoryWriter View Post
It depends on what they're doing now for ten pages and why the scene exists.

If they can just "walk to another room" and continue what they were doing, it sounds like what they're doing is talking and being clever.

If that's the case you may want to consider a shorter scene that accomplishes its specific goal more quickly.

I'm just guessing, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Good luck.
They're interrogating a witness after a big bust. It happens outside and the whole scene tells exactly who the characters are and sets up how they interact throughout the entire script.

I was hoping to shorten it considerably but nearly all of the dialogue is necessary.

I think maybe walking to the car will accomplish the break.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

Quote:
Originally Posted by ComicBent View Post
If it is working, leave it as it is.
Comic, it's like you just said, "Go with what feels right." Will do just that if no other solution else feels organic.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

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Originally Posted by catcon View Post
10 pages of dialogue? Even that long scene in Matrix 2 between Neo and the Engineer wasn't that long. I think it was 7 minutes (and 7 pages?), but even there, there were a couple of short cutaways to a fight between Trinity and an agent.

Anyway, longest I've done is maybe 6 pages, but there are some tricks that I employed (and I know some don't like the word tricks): A phone call, a TV that plays a news report that one of the conversants wants/needs to listen to, or if it's in a restaurant or pub maybe interrupt them with a waiter appearing with your menus or drinks, or somebody at the next table spilling a drink, etc.

And get rid of your parentheticals that don't matter. On the other hand, if you employ one-line description paragraphs to break up the dialogue, you can convert those to parentheticals and greatly shorten such a long scene.

Also, as suggested, make sure you're using get-in-late, get-out-early. You might be able to chop any introductions and goodbyes at the beginning and end, and save quarter page each.
I like that.

Maybe that's why it doesn't feel or seem too long when reading it because there are definite cutaways with a lot of back and forth and stuff going on.

It's not like it's just a static scene of people sitting/standing around talking. I'm more focused on the length of the scene rather than the page count of the scene (and yes, I know they can be related).

In actuality I think the scene would play out in about 7 min.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: Breaking up a long scene

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpaterso View Post
Cut to a view outside as a mailman gets attacked by a dog in the street or something equally stupid and unrelated.

RESUME on Larry and Moe, but now Moe has the TV remote and is flicking through the channels while Larry seethes.

MOE
Finders keepers.

LARRY
Aw come on, I was watching--

MOE
Losers weepers.

...he brain-farted. Meaning something's changed when you resume on your heroes.
A cutaway could definitely work. Thank you!
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