What Makes a Great Scene?

What Makes a Great Scene?

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“A complete dramatic unit that moves the story forward” – that’s one working definition of the basic building block of all scripts and productions: the scene. But what does it really consist of? How does one make each “unit” both essential to the larger story and effective as a singular beat within it?

Dialogue and description might be the two basic elements that a screenwriter has to work with – and it’s important to execute both on a professional level. But perhaps even more crucial is the underlying dramatic content behind each scene, and how it advances and connects with the larger story. Far from just indicating a location change (or a serving as a chapter in the overall narrative), an effective scene is like its own story in miniature, with the same basic structure of “catalyst” leading to confrontation, followed by crisis and resolution.

Erik Bork will discuss the key lessons he’s learned in writing scenes and scripts over the course of his 15-year professional screenwriting career – for projects ranging from cable miniseries to feature screenplays, original pilots, and television episodes on staff. During this time, he’s noticed common essential attributes which appear in all of the best scenes – regardless of genre or medium – and has put together a clear set of lessons for himself and other writers about what works and what doesn’t.

In this webinar, Erik will share what he’s come to understand about how to create a compelling and entertaining story from the “macro” level of concept, genre and structure, down to the all-important “micro” level of scene – that basic unit of storytelling of which all scripts are entirely composed – which determines the level and type of emotional impact the audience will experience.


  • How “outer problems” drive stories and scenes more than “inner journeys”
  • How good scenes focus on strong desires which meet unexpected conflict
  • What Jerry Maguire, Pretty Woman, and The Godfather have in common
  • The importance of understanding “what the audience wants to happen”
  • How every scene should “change the game” of the main story problem(s)
  • Why it’s best to make your main character’s thoughts and plans clear
  • How Save the Cat’s genres, beat sheet and scene-card process can help
  • How to describe emotional states that put the reader inside your character
  • Techniques for communicating information without being “expositional”
  • What great subtext in dialogue looks like, and how it improves scenes


  • Writers who find outlining and structure to be challenging or annoying
  • Writers who like story planning but want help with execution on the page
  • Film and TV writers in all genres – even “reality!”
  • Directors, producers or actors wanting a writer’s perspective on scenes
  • Novelists, playwrights or filmmakers interested in understanding “story”
  • Screenwriters looking for the secrets of good dialogue and description
  • Professional or aspiring writers living anywhere in the world
  • Writers looking for inspiration and guidance from someone they can relate to

The Writers Store does not offer any refunds for the webinar. All sales are final.