How to Write Scenes Like a Boss | Ivana Shein | Skillshare

How to Write Scenes Like a Boss

Ivana Shein, Write Your Voice

How to Write Scenes Like a Boss

Ivana Shein, Write Your Voice

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8 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Class Overview

      0:43
    • 2. What is Your Point of View

      4:08
    • 3. The Different Levels of Character

      8:40
    • 4. How to Deal With Exposition

      9:50
    • 5. How a Scene is Structured

      10:44
    • 6. Your Class Assignment

      4:21
    • 7. Writing Prompt: Scene

      2:49
    • 8. Writing Prompt: Monologue

      1:46
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About This Class

The best dialogue feels like it is improvised. However it takes a lot of work to create dialogue that is ceaselessly entertaining. In this class I hope to guide you towards writing dialogue that is dynamic, funny, political and coming from a clear point of view. (You!)  These skills can be applied to playwriting screenwriting tv pilots and web series.   

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Meet Your Teacher

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Ivana Shein

Write Your Voice

Teacher

Ivana is a teacher and writer who lives in Los Angeles and is originally from Toronto.. 

Ivana has taught at The National Theatre School of Canada, one of the top ranked writing schools in North America.  She curated the master class 'Writing In The Digital Age" specifically for the students of The NTS focusing on new media. She also holds her degree in playwriting from The NTS, where she studied for three years along with only two other highly selected classmates. 

Her one woman play "Faking It" debuted at the 'Just For Laughs Festival', in Montreal, and made its U.S. debut in Los Angeles at The Lounge Theatre.  Her short play "Single"  premiered at The IAMA Theatre Fest, which is currently in development to be made into a film.  IA... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Class Overview: Hi guys, my name is Ivana and I'm going to be teaching you this course called How to Write Undeniable Dialogue. In this class, I hope that you learn the skills necessary to write incredible dialogue, whatever form of storytelling you're engaging in, whether it be screenwriting, TV writing, play writing, web series, however you're choosing to tell your stories. I hope that these skills really help you to create dialogue that leaps off the page. Your class assignment is going to be to write a two and a half page scene with two characters in it. I'm super excited about the modules ahead and I can't wait to dive in with you. Thanks so much. 2. What is Your Point of View: This first module that we're going to be working on, is called Point of View. It's something that's really important when writing dialogue, when writing anything actually, it's what is your point of view as an author. It's also really important when you're choosing the setting for your scene, believe it or not. A good scene is never about an idea, a good scene is always about two characters who want something, and are pursuing that want relentlessly. However, what's interesting about writers is, writers are people who care deeply, who are usually angry all the time, most of the time, some of the time, and have different things that they advocate for. It's important that you as the writer, understand what your point of view is. Does that make sense? For instance, if you care a lot about the way children are treated in this country, then you may choose to set your scene in a foster care environment, or maybe a scene between a social worker and a mother who's fighting to keep her kid. Let's say in the instance of the social worker and the mother, the social worker obviously has a very clear motivation in that scene: to vet that the mother is suitable to keep the kid. The mother has a very clear motivation: to keep her kid. That's a great scene, two very conflicting needs that are both very justifiable. However, what's your point of view in that, what's your point of view about the foster care system, what's your point of view about children, what do you think is best for the child? It's important that you get clear about your ideas and your opinions before you start writing. Because ultimately, writing is a really wonderful place to express what you think about things, and to go to different sides of the point of view. I want you to take some time today to actually write about things that make you angry. What has made you really angry in your life, when you're driving or walking, making dinner with your husband, whatever you're doing, and you start to get spun up or riled up. What is it that makes you really angry, I'd love for you to just take 15 minutes and write about that. Another way to access point of view is, who do you feel protective towards in your life. Maybe it's your dog, maybe it's other people's dogs. I don't know, just what do you feel like protecting, because that can lead you to your advocacy, what you feel like advocating for. Writers are very smart people who have opinions, ideas that they are very passionate about. Sometimes these ideas and opinions are obstinate, sometimes they're not the traditional ideas that people have and that's really important too. If there's been an area of your life that you've been shamed, for having a certain opinion or point of view about. I want you to set your scene in that area, do you know what I mean? Because that's what's so interesting about writing, it's the onetime where you get to really have center stage, and really say what you think about things. Where we get to locate who you are as a person, within the confines of the scene. What I'm hoping is, that you're going to take 15 minutes today to write about what makes you angry. You're going to take 15 minutes tomorrow, to write about who you would protect the most in the world. Then do another little 15 minutes on, what you would advocate for. Is there something you'd be willing to die for? People are willing to die for their country. Is there something that you would lay down your life for? That's really interesting, that's getting into your core values and it's important to explore that before you get into writing characters and scenes, so that you understand what you are really passionate about. All right guys, I'm excited to hear how this lesson goes, and what it stirs up in you, please let me know in the comments below. Yeah. What you found. Thanks so much. 3. The Different Levels of Character: Today we're going to be talking about characters, which is obviously really important in dialogue writing that you find characters that are intriguing to you and characters that ultimately lead you into this scene rather than you pushing them into discussing an idea you have. I want you to take some time to think about characters that are intriguing to you. When you go out, do you find yourself observing the waitress? Do you find yourself observing the parking guy, the fireman, who is it that you watch? Who is it that you feel drawn to? I want you to start a character file where you just take notes on different people that interest to you. It might be, I know for me I'm incredibly interested in my grandmother as a character because she's such a wonderful human being. That's somebody that I may just start jotting down notes about. It doesn't need to be somebody that you observe at work. I just want you to start jotting down five different character ideas of people that interests you, maybe from your family, your school, your work-life. Just start writing interesting details and notes about those characters. Cool, you guys with me? Great. Once you've done that, I want you to start understanding something about characters in a scene. A character in a scene usually expresses herself or himself in three different levels. The professional, the stereotypical, and the personal. This is so useful for our purposes of learning how to write really undeniable dialogue. Let's talk about our social work here again, she's such a great character. I'm actually thinking about the social worker in Georgia focus problem child. You guys can go read that play if you want to, she's a wonderful character. But let's think about that social worker. Okay, what's the profession? Social worker. Somebody who has files, somebody who does certain things, who has to fill out paperwork, who has to show up on time, who has to investigate other people and judge other people. That's her profession. What's the stereotype of a social worker or the prototype? May be a kinder word. It can be something judgmental, hudders, stern, unforgiving. You could even go so far as to say unmothering, not maternal; in terms of the stereotypes of that social worker, if you're creating this character. Then what's the personal? That's for you to discover who are they when nobody is watching, does this social worker actually want to be a mother, is she incredibly carrying with her plans, I don't know. You can just in your character file, just create notes on the professional aspect of the character, the stereotypical or prototype of the character, and the personal life of the character. Now, when you do that, what's really fun is that when you actually get into writing the dialogue, you can switch between the three levels. Soracan does this in an incredible way when he writes. Though he'll have moments where he's talking about a file on the desk, what that character ate for breakfast in the same little monologue and maybe being a stereotypical president at the same time. He's able to move those plates around really beautifully. It's something that is going to be really fun for you guys to practice with, though. It is writing a character who in one moment is being very professional. Let's say me, I'm here in the profession of writing teacher. So I can be instructing you guys, I want you to do this, that assignment. All my students call me Canadian Mary Poppins, which is hilarious, is that I'm really encouraging who'd be my stereotype, or like really earnest and serious is a good writing teachers stereotype. Then my personal is, I'm just so happy to be in the middle of summer in my favorite city, LA. Let's say in a scene, if I'm writing myself, which is crazy and metabolic. Just follow me here, I can go in three different levels. So I can be myself, that professional and I can say, I want you guys to work on this assignment. It's really important to me that you get it done. That's Canadian Mary Poppins and then just, it's so hot, is more personal. There we have three different examples and layers of dialogue and any character you meet in life is always having those three levels operating at the same time. I think it's why we go to watch theater or why we love watching TV and movies is because we love seeing people revealed in their different facets. What's really interesting about the personal facet is that's who the character is without their mask on. As writers, we need to create the characters mask and we also need to have the skill set to take the mask off. When you are in the profession that can be really easy, let's say it's a waitress, it's like I got to do this, I got to do that, I've got to get ketchup to table five or whatever. But then maybe the personal thing is that the waitress is going through a divorce and rather than it being a line of dialogue, it's just a moment of behavior where she just looks to the side of the table and then snaps back to attention. This is a really excellent tool in dialogue writing, is being able to switch between the levels. Usually when writers come to me, if they're at the beginning of writing, they're just writing in one level, so it's all profession. Let's say a cop scene, it's all cops, it's all jargon and cops stuff but I'm not getting a sense of who that character is in their gut and what it is that they're struggling with. Or conversely, it's all journal writing like diary entry scenes where it's so personal that I have no idea how this person even is able to feed themselves breakfast. You want to be able to have a matched with your characters in order to create a three-dimensional character where we're seeing them as somebody who both pays their bills and also suffers from the human condition. A little tip when you are writing your scene: Level one, the personal level is like salt, use it lightly, don't overuse that one. You're actually better to lean into profession and to lean into stereotype. Stereotypes are wonderful thing, I know we haven't talked. We just spent a lot of time on level one and level three, so profession and personal. But stereotype or prototype is a wonderful thing to play with when you're writing, which is just a moment where the character really becomes that stereotypical social worker, that stereotypical waitress, that prototype of the Bachelor. All of these labels that we use to judge other people or judge ourselves with the stereotypical writing teacher, whatever it might be, the stereotypical student. Those moments can be really fun to play with in dialogue especially if the character becomes aware of it. Becomes aware of the fact that they're being a little bit stereotypical because that can lead to humor, to irony, to characters being ironic about themselves, which those are the characters that I love to watch. I know this was a lot to take in, please comment below with questions or thoughts that you have about this. I do want you to practice just picking two professions literally randomly, like firefighter and schoolers, give them each a motivation and practice writing there different levels as you write. Sometimes I think as writers we think of this scene has to go on my pilot or in my screenplay, no, you should be practicing every day. You should be writing a scene, a monologue, different things all the time. Just practice this lesson, that's your assignment for today. I want you to just practice shifting between the levels, between professional, stereotypical, and personal and let me know how that goes. All right guys, great work. 4. How to Deal With Exposition: Hello there. I hope everybody is doing amazing today. Today's lesson is going to be on something that a lot of writers struggle with, exposition, backstory. How do you get information across in dialogue without it sounding so clunky? First of all, Robert McKee in his story says, "Skill in exposition means making it invisible." Wonderful quote. Let's talk about the bad forms of exposition. You guys, you're going to start to notice it everywhere now that we're talking about it. Like when you're watching TV, when you're watching movies, you're going to go, "It hurts me when I hear the bad forms of it." But it's getting information across that can be really clunky. Like, the reason why Amanda has been late for school every day is because of her obsessive compulsive disorder. That's bad in getting information across, it's not grounded in character. People don't actually talk like that. People don't talk in the way that they just start to say backstory. The reason I'm mad at your father is because his mother wrote me out of the will, and that's why I'm standing here today in this courtroom. No, it doesn't make sense. It's like, it's empty calories. Other ways that people get information across, sometimes in clunky way is text messages, voicemail, voice-over, definitely, letter writing. Each of these things and any of themselves can be a really useful tool if it's done correctly. Let's talk about how to get across information correctly in your scene writing. There are obviously times in life where you reveal something about yourself, and it's incredibly difficult to reveal what you're revealing to the other person you're speaking to. That's the best way to get exposition across, is in a confession, is in a need to tell somebody else something you've been holding onto for a long time. That usually doesn't happen at the beginning of the scene, it just doesn't. We're going to do a whole other module on scene structure. But just for these purposes, understand that a scene doesn't usually open with, "I have to tell you this secret that I've been holding onto forever." There is a joke that scenes in California start that way because everybody in California is in therapy. They just start with, "I had a big breakthrough about my mother and therapy today." But even that is actually fake, and is actually a mask that the character is wearing. It's not true. To actually reveal something of value about yourself to another person, takes tremendous courage and involves a risk. Everything about exposition is timing. Okay. I'm going to share a personal story that helps to teach this lesson of exposition. When I got married last summer, thank you so much. My grandmother, who is a 101, was at the wedding, and that was really important to me and my husband, and my whole family, that she be at the wedding. At the reception, she stood up and gave a speech. The speech was basically our family exposition. She got up and said, "In 1945, I met my husband." It involved the war. It had dates. It involved what cities they had lived in. It involved everything and basically, maybe an 80 year timeline that brought us all to this moment of this reception and this wedding, and that's a lot of exposition. But it was deeply resonant because of the timing of it and because of who was speaking it, a woman who is a 101 years old. That's a woman that we want to hear from. A woman who is reflecting on her life and what brought her to this moment and time. It's the difference between empty calories and nutritious calories. Bad exposition feels like empty calories. Yeah, these are the dates, these are the times, these are the places that these things happened. But if you really consider that this is somebody's life that they're sharing about, that these details matter to them, then you will be successful in exposition. This is really important, you need to make these details matter to the character more than they matter to you as the writer to get out to move your story forward. That's usually the trick, is that writers get kind of lazy, the audience needs to know that this woman has been in a car accident. "Okay, how does the woman feel about having been in a car accident? How does that affect her?" If you say, "Well, I don't know. I don't want to spend time on that." Then that's not the correct answer. Your characters are everything in writing. You need to go back to those character files I assigned to you and do more research, and do more work on what that car accident meant to that person, when it happened in their life. When things happen, let's say a car accident, a person who has been through a car accident will remember if it happened to them at 26 versus at 38. Let's say it did happen to them at 26, what was lost in their life because of it? We keep track of our lives, we keep checks and balances. We know what could have happened if this had gone that way, and what might have happened if it had gone another way. If you'd stayed dating this one, or gone back to grad school. In our own lives, the details, the dates, the times, they matter a lot. Don't just fling them around and impose them onto a character in a way that a character would never speak. Is exposition difficult? Yes, it is the most difficult part about storytelling, about dialogue writing. It is the most difficult thing. It separates the girls from the women, it separates the boys from the men. It's important that you really take time to work on this. What I want you to do this week is, I want you to watch a lot of TV, you're welcome. Watch a lot of TV, watch a lot of movies, and write down when you hear about exposition. Also write down when you hear good exposition. I want you to write down five examples of bad exposition, and five examples of good exposition. Start to notice writers who can do it really well. The key is when you reveal the information, what meaning that has for the character in terms of the when. If my grandmother had just been doing that in the morning while we were getting hair and makeup done or whatever, it might have felt a little strange. But she stood up in the middle of the reception and all eyes were on her. So much of when you reveal backstory about a character is timing. There's another piece to this. There's different types of backstory, there's timeline backstory which we just discussed, and there's emotional backstory. A heartbreak like a divorce, a death, different emotional traumas that happen in a person's life. How do you reveal that backstory without it feeling expositional? Without it feeling like, "God, okay. The writer is just putting this in here so that we understand that that character has an emotional backstory." That's called showing your work, you don't want to do that. In fact, you want to do so much work that it becomes invisible. Back to that Robert McKee quote, if you know so much more about your characters than we could ever know, the backstory will become invisible in terms of emotional backstory and when to reveal it. It has to do with the structure of a scene. You want to reveal it in connection with what the character is pursuing. In connection with what they want. In a need to release and reveal this information in order to move forward. That's what makes it not a therapy session, but a dramatic scene. Is that the character wants something, and in order to get what they want, they're going to have to reveal something emotional about themselves. They're going to need to reveal, perhaps timeline. They may need to reveal something incredibly conscious. As in, "Yeah, I had a D-U-I." Something that is emotional but is also set in a timeline. Any of these backstory elements that we label as expositional need to come out. A scene is like an emotional break. It's like something needs to break open, and how that gets broken or open is through the characters pursuing what they want, definitely, and when the character reveals their past, it's so important to the structure of the overall scene. I want you to think about that, and I want you to take notes on five pieces of good exposition and five pieces of bad exposition. At the same time I want you to be adding to your character files, backstory about the character. Emotional backstory, timeline backstory, anything that you think of that brings this character to the present day. All right guys. Thanks so much. I'll see you soon. 5. How a Scene is Structured: Hey, guys. I am so happy that we discussed exposition in our last class, and I'm really dying to hear how that went for you and what you discovered. My students always have so many questions about exposition when we do this module, and my dialogue class always have a lot of questions. So please let me know if you've had questions. It really led organically to our next module, which is about how to structure a seen. What is a scene structure? As I'm sure you know, obviously a screenplay, or a play, or the hour-long has a three-act structure. A scene also has its own three-act structure. It also has its own builds, climax, and then release. It has tension that mounts and then releases. How do you get this? Through motivation. This is like Pure David Mamet, and he is so right about this. The characters need to want something, and they need to be really clear about what they want from each other in the scene. It's really good if the characters have a conscious want and an unconscious want. Let's talk about conscious wants. Conscious wants are, they need to get somebody to write them a check, they need to go to the bathroom, they need to eat. They need to find out if who they're dating is their boyfriend or is their girlfriend. These are very conscious wants in a scene and they're so important, you do not go into your scene without knowing what your character wants consciously. A goal, in this you want to learn how to write dialogue. It's a very clear goal. You're going to come out writing a scene. It's very clear. This is something that a lot of writers think that they can skip over. I don't know why. Why do you think you can skip over this? You don't get to skip over it in life. I would love to skip over conscious goals in life and have all my goals be about growing as a person. But I have to pay a mortgage and do certain things. Writing is a reflection of how life is structured. In life, we don't just get to diary our way through it. We have to be certain places at certain times, we have to show up. This is what's awful and wonderful about life. So don't leave this off the page. Do not deny yourself this very important part of writing. I want you to write down 10 conscious goals, conscious wants. Again, I gave you some, you need somebody to write you a check. That's such a great goal because your character can literally see how far the pen is from the checkbook in the scene that you're writing. You need somebody to sign a contract. You need somebody to give you the job. You need to get the call back if your act shows. Whatever the thing is, I want you to be really clear on what that conscious goal is. You need custody, you need to be absolved of a crime. There's so many important motivations. So write down a list of those. Okay. Is that clear? I'm tough on this one because everybody needs to really be on board for that. It matters a lot. Unconscious goal or motivation, that can be something based more on perhaps the character's backstory. How we were discussing exposition. That can be the character wants freedom, the character wants recognition, the character wants stability, the character needs connection, the character wants, I always is come back to freedom, but I just think that's a good one, but the character wants acknowledgment. Those are more unconscious needs of the character wants. Now, some teachers will definitely tell you you need to know exactly what those unconscious needs are, I don't think you do. I think that if you are really clear on your character at this stage, you can be more going off of an instinct of what their unconscious need may be. I think that what's so important is that you know your characters and that you're living with them and spending so much time in those character files. Every time you've more time you spend in those character files, you give yourself so much more ammunition in the actual scene. Now, we have two characters. They both have conscious needs and unconscious needs. We have a setting, maybe a foster care home, maybe an animal adoption, something that you've chosen based on your point of view. We have that setting, we have backstory for them. They come into the scene and these two motivations move towards each other and they need to be conflicting. One needs you to sign the check, the other needs to get out of signing the check, conflict. They need to be opposite ones. By the way, what's so amazing about being a human being is that I believe pretty much all wants are in conflict. So you don't have to worry too much. Humans have a way of always living in conflicts no matter, even if their wants seems similar, there's still conflict that occurs. So don't worry too much of thinking up different wants. They will conflict. They come together and then in the moment when they actually collide, that's the climax of your scene. That moment may be a good time to reveal back story. That moment may be a good time to reveal exposition. Why? Here's why. When you're writing, it's conscious. The conscious goal is moving through the scene. However, as the conscious goal moves forward in the scene, the unconscious goals starts to emerge and starts to press up against the conscious goal, so that in the moment when they collide, the unconscious is usually revealed. Its just how life goes. If you start to really unpack why you want something, there's usually an unconscious desire behind it. There's usually something about yourself, your desiring to remember, or reveal, or return to. That's why writing is such a healing art actually because it's about that. It's about characters becoming whole through conflict and through letting themselves want something. This is so important. This is the most important thing I'm going to say to you. If you want to write good characters, you have to let yourself want things in life. You may have been disappointed by things or different things may have happened where you shut your heart down in a certain way and you've got to open it back up because writing and life is all about wanting things and being brave enough to allow yourself to want things that you want. I'm going to suggest that you write another list of things that you've wanted just to connect to that real feeling of motivation and really making it personal for yourself. Now that you have two lists of conscious wants for your characters and conscious wants that you wanted, I want you to start looking at possible unconscious wants behind those wants. Maybe you really wanted to marry Johnny, but unconsciously what you were really wanting with self-actualization, maybe Johnny represented somebody in your life who you felt like you could really find out who you were on this planet if you were with him. Well, there's a character that can fight for something when she's fighting to marry Johnny because we understand the conscious thing that she's fighting for, but we also understand unconsciously what she's going after. This is really important if you've done your work in the character files, you also have timeline on this. Again, is the character of fighting to marry Johnny 22 or 32? That makes a big difference in that fight. Where is she exactly in her timeline? How is this thing in her life such an unmet need that she can justify fighting for it fully? The unmet need aspect of this is very important. I learned that studying Shakespeare at the Public Theater and it stayed with me this whole time. Thank you, [inaudible] for that. But definitely, in her fight for Johnny, she has to as the character feel that there's no way out of that fight, otherwise she would take it. These have got to be wants that are really meaningful to you and something that you as the writer can fling your heart into, your point of view into, your politics into, even if it's the reverse of those things, it's just got to be something that you can justify from that character's point of view fighting for no holds barred, and in that, you will have seen structure. If you do everything I just said through bashing those two characters together, bashing their needs and their wants both conscious and unconscious together, much will be revealed in the scene. The reason why I'm asking you to write a two-and-a-half page scene is because it's just enough time for there to be that break. Usually, it's going to be probably at around the bottom of the second page, top of the third page. Though not necessarily, let your characters dictate the structure of the scene, follow them and see where they want to go. Because if you give them a want, what you've really given them is a heart, and if they have a heart, they have structure. That's the whole thing behind structure, is somebody who was going for something that they want so badly. That is the DNA of structure. Guys, I am really curious to hear how this goes in terms of writing out your wants, and it may bring up some emotions for you, and that's fine too. Have a cry, have a stomp. Who cares? Just let your heart open. Again, it's an important part of the writing process. Thanks so much. 6. Your Class Assignment: Hi, guys. At this stage you're getting ready to write your scene. Awesome. You've done your character files, you've recorded different voices, and you've studied these classes. I want to give you a couple of tricks to get you started. One really fun way to break any kind of writer's block you may be feeling, which by the way, I hope that you are not, and if you are, I recommend you go to my website, www.writeyourvoice.com and look under resources. I have tones of videos up there in terms of how to get started writing in different ways to break past the inner sensors. So, do go do that if you're feeling a little blocked in any way. For now, here's a fun way to break through that fear of just getting started on your assignment. Take four character names, put them in a hat, take four settings, put them in a hat. Take eight different motivations you have them from your list, put them in another hat, and randomly pick out two characters, two motivations, one setting and write that scene, just to practice. You can write as much as you want in this way. It's a wonderful way though to work past any inner angst about how to get started. Just cut up names, put them in these different hats, and pick them out and write randomly and you'll be surprised so much activates your creativity and your unconscious. I think you'll be really surprised in terms of what happens there. So, that's one trick I wanted to give you in terms of writing your scene. The next trick I want to give you is, if you're in your scene and you're having issues with dialogue, for instance, one character says to the other, happy birthday, and the other character says, thank you so much. You may feel like there's something else going on there, write three responses. This character says happy birthday, and then character B says, thanks so much. Then what's a second response that they might say? Nice to see you again, it's been awhile. Then maybe another thing they might say is, what I really wanted was a dog. That's just from my unconscious of what I said. But, it's a nice way to scale into some deeper territory with what you're writing. This is the most important thing I'm going to say about dialogue writing this whole time. Character A says something. Let Character B listen. Let them actually take in what gets said and then respond. Don't worry so much about rushing off into different directions or interesting dialogue. The most important ingredient of all of this is just listening. If you've done all the work that we've done over the past weeks, what matters most is that you just listen authentically as the other character and then write something down. Here's another trick that my mentor and teacher, Judith Thomson, taught us when I was at National Theater School that helps so much, that I love so much, where she used to just say to us, if you're writing a hunter just put on a hunter's cap, put on a beard, sit down at the computer and write in costume with that character. That is a really fun way to do this too and that's so important. This is supposed to be fun and it's supposed to actually be somewhat physical. I mean, be the character, you can walk around your room, and talk out as the character. You can improvise a scene, going back and forth, and switching places as the character. Ultimately, you're just trying to return to the way that you were when you were five or six or four, and this stuff came so naturally to you and you cracked your parents up doing different characters or doing different things. It should be a really fun way of expressing yourself. I am so excited for you to write your scenes, and please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you so much for taking this course and I look forward to getting to know more about you and your writing. 7. Writing Prompt: Scene: Hey, guys. So I wanted to give you some extra assignments. You don't need to do these, but they're here if they're interesting to you, and there's something that I think are really going to strengthen your skills as writers. The first assignment I think would be great for you to do is to go to a restaurant, go to a cafe, leave your house and just listen to people talk, and write down how you hear them talking. It's so important, David Mamet has a wonderful book about this, writing in restaurants, where he did this for many years. But he just recorded the way that people talk, and he's one of our best dialog writers, right? Well, one of our best writers, but especially with dialogue. So it would be so useful for you to just get into your neighborhood and listen to people. Listen to people who don't look like you, listen to people who don't talk like you, and just write down their vocal tics. Now, to take this a step further, what I suggest you do is you ask somebody if you can interview them. Ask a security guard, ask a nurse at a hospital, ask somebody who's very different from you if you can interview them, and record that interview and just get them to start talking. Get them to start talking about their life, their passions, whatever. Write out maybe five questions and just get them to start talking. Then go home and transcribe the interview. I promise you, I've done this and I've assigned it to students many times, and it's always incredibly revelatory because you start to see the way that people talk, and you also start to see that people don't articulate their emotions. Writers articulate people's emotions when they're writing scenes. Actual people, often, the emotion is a dot, dot, dot, or a pause, or they look away. So as you actually are very archivalist and write down everything they say as they say it, look at what happens in the pauses, look at what happens in uh, uhms, I don't knows, in the what we call vocal tics. Another amazing person to watch who does this is Anna Deavere Smith. She interviews people all the time, and her work is up on HBO. So you can see how incredibly deep and intricate this work is. If you really get excited by it, I encourage you to keep going in this direction because it's a wonderful tool for a writer, and a wonderful way to start capturing different voices. All right, guys. Let me know how that goes. Thanks so much. 8. Writing Prompt: Monologue: Hey guys. Here's an assignment that I am really excited to share with you. Basically, the title of this assignment is called The Secret. I want you to think about a secret in your life, in somebody else's life, maybe something you read on the news. It's important that the secret has the energy to it of It's never been shared before. Take a minute, think of a secret. Then I want you to write a monologue. I want you to write a monologue from the point of view of a character where this is the first time telling this secret. Just have the character say the secret. What I want you to do is, I want you to set a timer for 15 minutes and I want you to write and it's important when you write, that you don't let your hands lift off the page. Don't stop yourself from writing. Just keep writing and writing. I want you to hand-write it. As you do this, I believe that through just the energy of the secret, it will carry you into making certain choices. Who is this character talking to? Why are they talking? But let this secret lead you. You don't need to know this stuff before you write it. Let it be a process of discovery and when you're finished, type up that monologue. This is a wonderful way to write monologues. By the way, when you're done writing this monologue, I'm really interested to hear if as you wrote it, there was a breaking point or a climax in the monologue where the character had to share what was going on with them. Please try this exercise called The Secret and let me know how it goes. Thanks.