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Objective! – What is the scene about?


Today I want to talk about how to hone in on the strongest, most interesting objective for your character to pursue in your scene.

You need to read the sides or script that you have very thoroughly to figure out what exactly is going on. You want to do something to someone in order to try to get them to do something. What you are saying in the dialogue is your ammunition for getting what you want…your OBJECTIVE.

As you read through your lines, try to ask yourself “Why am I saying this right now to this person?” Every single thing you say must fit into that one purpose…something you want from the other person. It can’t just be some of your lines…it must be all of them. You want one thing. You want to change the other person in some way.

Try to find the best way to describe that desire. Once you have a very clear intention, you will know how to say those lines…the way your character thinks will be most convincing with the other person. You will try different tactics for getting what you want. But there is only one desired goal. Your objective.

But what might be even more important in deciphering exactly what that is, is what the other character is saying. They are giving you your opposition. What is often missing from a scene when it lacks excitement and energy is a difference of opinion. When two people agree, there is no reason for them to talk at any length. It is when they disagree that a real conversation begins. Each character wants the other to come over to their side. They are coming from different perspectives. They want different things.

So if you look at the other character’s lines and they trigger you into dialogue, you can be fairly sure they are giving you less than (or the opposite of)what you want from them. This should give you some good insight into what it is you do want from them.

For example…They want you to accept a non-committal and casual relationship – you want them to commit to a serious one . They want to get you to feel sorry for them – you want them to buck up and take responsibility. They want you to be more kinky – you want safe and “normal”. Their lines trigger your lines. It is a sparring match. That’s what keeps the scene moving. You each will use various tactics to get the other to do what you want. You hit…block…duck…counter…recover…try again.

It is your job to make the scene important. Without opposition there is no scene. If there doesn’t appear to be any conflict, it must be hidden in the subtext. Read between the lines. Imagine what history has culminated in this moment. Find the point of dissension and discern how your character will deal with it.

Eventually during the scene, one character will be pulled to the other side or the two will go their separate ways. Or perhaps a seed is planted for future scenes. The test of your success in achieving your objective will always be in the other person. You must constantly be aware of how you are doing and when you should change tactics…and finally if you should give in.

It is often such a temptation to make a scene all about you…to show your inner conflict and the reasons you need what you need. But this always produces a self-indulgent and boring performance because you will be acting alone. For you, the focus of the scene should always be on the other person. It’s all about convincing them, changing them, testing them, provoking them, reacting to them and responding to them, It’s never about you. It’s all about them.

Repeat after me, “IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM!”

Winnie Hiller