Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

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Aurelia-Aurora
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Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#1 Post by Aurelia-Aurora » Sun May 02, 2010 5:33 pm

Why is it that every time I write a piece of dialogue, the scene ends up being too short? :( Honestly, it looks good at first glance, but when you take another look at it, it's just really short and pointless. Any tips on how to counter this? :(
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#2 Post by Dark » Sun May 02, 2010 6:09 pm

I mean, it depends on what you want to go for. What are you trying to accomplish in your dialogue? Are you trying to convey personality? Wit? Or perhaps move your plot forward. The thing is, not all dialogue and conversations are long and flowy. If that were the case, all conversations that you would have with your friends would always sound engaging, and that there would never be an awkward pause.

Other than the dialogue, you could even focus on the body language or expressions that your characters are making. How fake does the language sound? What is happening around them? What is the reason for the conversation? Feelings, results, etc.

Just remember, dialogue isn't all necessarily text based.
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#3 Post by luminarious » Sun May 02, 2010 6:49 pm

One idea that helped me: try to write your idea in the most overdetailed, boring way you can possibly imagine.

No, really. It helps you focus totally on the every little thing that is happening at this moment in time. Your readers will skip over it all anyway. But most importantly, remember that this is your first draft. This is where you put things down. Only in the second and third draft will you start pruning things down to their bare essentials again, to bring forth the essence of the scenes.

So yeah, bravely put down whatever comes to mind. If nothing comes, make stuff up.

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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#4 Post by iAsobu » Sun May 02, 2010 7:13 pm

Also remember that writing the scene may take longer than it takes to read the scene.

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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#5 Post by Wintermoon » Sun May 02, 2010 10:12 pm

Short and pointless beats longs and pointless. If there is no point to the scene, cut it, don't pad it.

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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#6 Post by linkdragon0 » Sun May 02, 2010 10:41 pm

Some of my scenes are short, relatively pointless, random things, but those short scenes where your characters talk just about things for a short while flesh the story out and give it a realism.

Of course, too many just gets tedious. So try for a few, if one ends up "too short" leave it, move on with the story and come back to it later if it NEEDS To be in the story. If it's not a major part, just leave it small.
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#7 Post by Nanashiko » Mon May 03, 2010 1:16 am

Don't try and drag on something you can't. If it's short well it just have to be short. You can try fluffing it up a bit, though in a VN I am not sure how good that would be. Honestly, I was working on a piece the other day. The scene's were long though it wasn't really necessary I am going to have to go and rewrite it so it isn't quite as long.

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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#8 Post by Applegate » Mon May 03, 2010 7:11 am

I find that it's best to keep descriptions to what's necessary. For example, if you write an angry line as,

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!", it's really pointless to add a description about his seething eyes raging with the fury of a thousand angry thunder gods, because we can derive that from the line alone. A succinct, "He stared at me." would work, since we'll know he's:

1) Pretty angry.
2) Staring at the main character.
3) Therefore, probably staring with the rage of an angry thunder god.

Over-description tends to lead into boring passages.

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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#9 Post by IceD » Mon May 03, 2010 8:46 am

Aurelia-Aurora wrote:Why is it that every time I write a piece of dialogue, the scene ends up being too short? :( Honestly, it looks good at first glance, but when you take another look at it, it's just really short and pointless. Any tips on how to counter this? :(
This isn't a bad trait, trust me :) just don't make dialogues pointless, but I guess when someone has something to say to another person and he has something on his/her mind it will never be without any meaning...

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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#10 Post by IonicMomo » Mon May 03, 2010 1:01 pm

I have the opposite problem: my scenes end up too long and verbose. You can probably tell by the length of this post that I tend to ramble, which is much more of an issue than short scenes. I actually don't see short scenes as a problem, unless they fail to fulfill their purpose. Maybe that's because I actually prefer a more spare style of writing.

You have to be careful when lengthening scenes. You don't want to add anything that isn't necessary to development of plot or character. Just try to keep the realism of a real world conversation. Imagine yourself talking to a friend (or enemy). What would you say? How would they respond? At what point would the conversation end? The best way to learn to write good dialogue is to eavesdrop on people: on the bus, at the supermarket, in class, wherever, and even take notes on how different people talk and communicate their ideas. "Short" isn't bad at all (some people naturally use fewer words, or talk less when making a point than others do); "pointless," on the other hand, is. Think about what you need the scene or conversation to do in the context of your story, and develop a way to accomplish that goal.

For example, say you have a conversation between a woman and her boyfriend. She is pregnant, and at some point in the dialogue, she needs to reveal this to her boyfriend. Depending on her character, it could be as simple as this:

[Please ignore the poor quality of writing.]

Sally looked at Joe with serious eyes.
"Joe, I'm pregnant."
There was a shocked silence, and suddenly Joe began to laugh hysterically.
"Wow, you almost had me there, babe!"
But the look in Sally's eyes told him there was no joke.
"Oh. Oh wow. You're not kidding. There really is a kid in there."
"Yes, there is."
"Well then...I think it's great."
Sally was surprised at this reaction. "Really? You think so?"
"Absolutely. I want to raise this kid with you, Sally, I really do. I love you, babe."
"Well good. I love you, too."

Or it could be more drawn out, if Sally is nervous, or avoids the topic:

Sally down on the couch next to Joe, who was flipping through TV channels.
"Hi honey. What are you watching?"
"Nothing. I'm looking for ESPN."
"Really. Is there a Wings' game tonight?" Her voiced cracked as she asked.
"Yup. Some of the guys are comin' over."
"Sure honey."
Joe frowned.
"...Is something wrong, babe?"
"No, no! Nothing at all."
"...I see."
"W-what do you see?"
"Something's bothering you. Is it your dad? Is he sick again?"
"No, it's nothing like that. It's just..."
"Just what?"
"I...I think I might be pregnant."
Joe breathed out slowly at this news.
"Are you sure?"
"Well, I don't know. I mean, I just took a pregnancy test, and--"
Joe silenced Sally with a kiss.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you, too."

Okay, that was pretty bad, but you get the idea. Both the scenes were a lot more rushed than they should have been, but there's a lot more room for expansion. The idea is that both conversations more or less accomplish the same goal, even though one is nearly twice as long as the other. And there are actually times in the second conversation where less is said than in the first. Some things can be implied. Joe never said in the second scene that he was excited about having the baby, but it doesn't need to said. If the writer does his or her job well, the reader will know without having to be told. On the other hand, the second scene lays more of a context for the conversation. Sometimes this is important, sometimes it really isn't.

I don't know if this helped at all, but usually, the more you can pare down a script and remove unnecessary passages, the better. Just don't let your editing change your characters' personalities or make scenes pointless. Usually you can tell pretty easily where and how a scene needs to be expanded, or pinpoint specific areas where not enough is explained for the reader to have grasp of what is going on. (Sometimes the significance of a scene isn't revealed until later.) If you feel like something is missing in a particular scene, that is a good place to start. Just don't let your expansions get out of hand. ;) (Most readers will be more annoyed by scenes that are overly long than ones that are too short.)

As I mentioned before, a good technique is to have a clear idea what needs to be accomplished in a scene for the story to move forward. If the scene fails to do that, it needs to be changed or removed. It probably seems like a very methodical and inorganic approach to writing, but I see this as one of the cardinal rules of writing fiction.
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#11 Post by Fireserpent » Sat May 08, 2010 6:43 am

The game I'm currently writing on has user selected dialogues almost at any turn, which means the player rarely says anything without you making a choice what to say first (menu choices)

With that I ran exactly into that problem, that the dialogues ended up being somewhat short. But as the game has evolved, the somewhat short dialogues actually work really well with the pacing of the game, especially since almost all the dialogues (except special story moments) are dynamic. It makes the whole thing a lot easier to keep track of :) Even though it's beginning to add up to a lot of menu screens. But hey, it was the way it was intended in the first place.



I'm an old mush/mud roleplayer, so I kind of got used to write emotes.. I like adding details that may not be shown specifically in the character's expression..

Take a romantic moment for example: (This one in first person persective, like in the game I'm currently doing.) Just an example, not an actual dialogue from the game,.

Kamele: "You have beautiful eyes."
Kamele: "I get butterflies in my stomach when you look at me like that."

This could be done with just an expression and two lines of dialogue The way I'm currently doing it is more like this:

(set starting expression here)
"She moves up closer to you and looks into your eyes."
(set closer face/expression here)
Kamele "You have beautiful eyes."
"She smiles and a small blush appears on her cheeks."
Kamele "I get butterflies in my stomach when you look at me like that."

For me, this works really well, and adds some extra depth and intimacy to the scene, that wouldn't be there if I only had the words.

If anyone's interested I'll post some screens how I've done it with expressions and renders where the character is closer, further away etc.. I've got my own custom characters made in Poser (Even custom modelled clothing) , so I have a lot of control and ease to create additional images once a character is done.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#12 Post by Chansel » Sat May 08, 2010 11:10 am

If anyone's interested I'll post some screens how I've done it with expressions and renders where the character is closer, further away etc.. I've got my own custom characters made in Poser (Even custom modelled clothing) , so I have a lot of control and ease to create additional images once a character is done.
I'm defiantly interested ^^
This is something I've been struggling with myself.. I never quite know what I should and shouldn't write when it comes to movement/expressions/etc.
And your small example makes it seem easy, so I assume you're good at it :P
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#13 Post by Fireserpent » Sat May 08, 2010 12:47 pm

These two screens show a simple scene where I used an emote together with a change of expression, to describe the context in which she smiled, that it's part of a conversation.

Image
Image

The following screens shows a different character with a medium distance to close image, where she "studies the player's face" John is simply a sample name for the name that the player can choose for himself.

Image

Image

Image

I'm currently using 3 different distances, far medium and close for my characters.. Which is already adding up to a lot, considering they have eyeblinks and different expressions, and even different clothes.. And I don't really want to zoom since I like the high detailed close up renders :) The characters are 3d renders, but if you are drawing your characters instead, you can probably do the same thing.

The text itself is fairly simple, and I'm sure you can write something a lot more involved. (I have that, but couldn't find any equally clear examples from it)

The transitions work much better if you use dissolve between them (which you can't see from the screenshots)

Cheers!
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#14 Post by Chansel » Sat May 08, 2010 4:28 pm

Thanks for posting the examples ^^
I'm currently using 3 different distances, far medium and close for my characters.. Which is already adding up to a lot, considering they have eyeblinks and different expressions, and even different clothes.. And I don't really want to zoom since I like the high detailed close up renders :) The characters are 3d renders, but if you are drawing your characters instead, you can probably do the same thing.
Wow, that must be a lot of art O.O But it sure does look cool this way, so it's worth it, right? ^^
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Re: Writing: Scenes always end up too short?

#15 Post by Fireserpent » Sat May 08, 2010 4:49 pm

Chansel wrote:Thanks for posting the examples ^^

You're welcome :)
Wow, that must be a lot of art O.O But it sure does look cool this way, so it's worth it, right? ^^
It sure helps! I think it's worth it, but it depends on how you do the art.. I have Poser projects with all of the expressions and cameras set up, that I can import to new characters, and even batch render, so that makes it easy, even though it's still really time consuming to set up. But if you want to hand draw every character and expression it'll be a lot of work, and harder to adjust afterwards.

How are you doing your art? (Or maybe you have another artist)

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