So I have been looking at this exercise for a few days now and for some strange reason it had totally stumped me, looking at it you think that’s pretty simple and I think that’s what got me.
Anyway here is the exercise and my interpretation of it.
Objective: Scene economy, planting and payoff, involving an active audience.
Exercise: Write two short scenes (1/2 page each). NO DIALOGUE.
Scene 1: Your character is in alone in a room getting read for a date. We should be able to tell from the way in which he/she prepares if he/she is looking forward to the date, apathetic about it, dreading it, etc…
Scene 2: The same character enters the same room after the date. What happened on the date? We should tell by his/her actions – how he/she moves, gets undressed, looks in the mirror, etc. – how the date went. Was it a disaster? Unexpected? Predictable? Passionate? Remember, you must know what kind of date it is: a wedding, a funeral, the prom.
Remember: Scenes of preparation and aftermath should be at an emotional extreme. Hints: Since the scene of aftermath should contradict the preparation, you want to bring the character from one extreme to the other.
Example: Imagine a hitman in a suit with a press pass for the Democratic Convention. He’s assembling his elite sniper rifle, while looking over the dossier of the party’s Presidential nominee… We know who he is, where he’s going, what he’s going to do, how he’s going to do it… and we feel smart because we put the information together. And when he returns, his mission will have been a success, or maybe he’s the one who has been shot.
The Marsh mellow incident
The setting is a kitchen, one that you may find in a students first flat away from home. Pantry, fridge, sink, cupboards and drawers under the sink, washing machine, tumble dryer and a old fashion phone on the wall. In the middle of the kitchen is a small uninspired square table, with only one chair next to it. DAVE enters with purpose only wearing in his boxers. DAVE is carrying a jacket, two pairs of gloves, a scarf and a woolly hat. DAVE places the accessories onto the table and hangs the jacket on the back of the chair. DAVE opens the tumble dryer, pulls out a pair of trousers, socks, T-shirt and a hoodie he smells each item before dressing himself. DAVE goes to the pantry and pulls out a giant bag of marshmallows and throws it casually onto the table, he moves to the cupboard opens the door and takes a look inside, DAVE has to rummage at the back of the cupboard to find what he was looking for – two long skewers, he puts them onto the table. DAVE now goes into the drawers and pulls out some lighter fluid and a lighter, he checks to see if the lighter works, it does, he pops the lighter into his back pocket. DAVE checks his watch and realises he is running late so he rushes for another drawer that is filled with plastic bags, Dave pulls one out and places the marshmallows, the lighter fluid and skewers gently into the bag being extremely careful not to pierce the bag. DAVE puts his jacket on and puts one pair of gloves into his pocket and the other into the bag and exits.
DAVE rushes in, he has a claw mark on his face, his T-shirt is blooded, his scarf and jacket appear to have been burnt, it looks slightly comical. DAVE is also carrying the plastic bag we saw earlier only the bottom is missing, he puts it onto the table. DAVE is completely expressionless. DAVE walks to the cupboard and retrieves a large glass from it, he looks at the glass, it feels like he is working really hard to connect his brain with movement. He finally fills the glass with water and places it onto the table, he takes of his jacket and throws it onto the floor, we see claw marks all over his body. DAVE sits down and takes a large gulp of water and places the glass slowly back down onto the table. He pauses. DAVE looks at his hands and they are trembling. The phone rings.
DAVE is in the kitchen, he is wearing a smart collared shirt, and some shorts. The kitchen feels warm, not in the heating sense but like grandmas cottage when you think of Little Red Riding Hood. It is filled with utensils that hang near the oven, a few cook books here and there and a table and chairs. DAVE is preparing a picnic, he is confident, a man on a mission. He has shopping bags on the table, he is placing the contents into a picnic basket, first he puts plastic plates in, followed by the plastic cups and cutlery, the food is then carefully packed grapes, cheese, crackers, sliced ham, bread rolls, olives, dried tomatoes, a box of After Eights. Dave also pulls out a box of condoms and takes 2 from the box and places them carefully into a secret compartment in the picnic basket. The last item from the shopping bags is a bottle of wine, he reads the label and goes to put it into the basket but doesn’t. DAVE is clearly conflicted with himself but eventually places the wine into the basket, the final item that is placed in is the picnic blanket. DAVE leaves casually with a promising smile.
DAVE enters the kitchen with an sense of embarrassment, he seems flustered a complete reverse of the DAVE we saw in the previous scene. DAVE places the picnic blanket onto the table and pulls out the blanket, followed by the wine which he looks at disappointed. DAVE tuts at himself and puts the unopened bottle into the trash. He sits on the chair deflated. DAVE sits quietly contemplating to himself, he retrieves the bottle from the trash and proceeds to drink from the bottle.