Banter Is Not Story

A famous screenwriting guru once said that every scene had to have conflict or be funny.  I threw his book against the wall.  I don’t think being funny is enough of a justification for a scene in the movies, but I know it’s not enough for a novel because while moviegoers watch, novel readers participate.  You can be a passive watcher, but you can’t be a passive reader.  And that means that at a subconscious level, a good reader is going to try to make that scene fit into the puzzle of the story.  I think good readers can keep a lot of plates spinning in a plot as they read through, but if there are still plates spinning at the end, they’re going to feel unsatisfied.  So every scene, in my humble opinion, must be crucial to the story, must fit into the plot arc and character arc, and must stop spinning at the end, must finish the puzzle.  Anything that doesn’t fit is going to be a broken plate, an extra puzzle piece.  That’s bad.

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