The first example scene was written by one of my students (a beginner at the time, who asked me to rewrite it). It deals with the first women to join the Navy, which occurred in WWII. It's reprinted here with her permission. (She has, by the way, gone on to become quite an accomplished screenwriter.)
Although neither version of the scene in this chapter would necessarily end up as a cinematic in a game, the techniques used in the rewritten version are applicable to almost all cinematics.
The original scene lacks many of the specific techniques that could enrich the scene's flow, the characters, their relationship to one another, and their dialogue.
I then rewrote the scene, using not just the techniques listed previously in this chapter, but many additional ones as well.
The third version is the same as the second, but points out every single technique I used. You'll find there are quite a few. It's dissected with many drawings and explanations as to exactly why certain artistic choices were made, and which writing technique or techniques have been employed.
Writing riveting cinematics requires a wealth of screenwriting techniques, far too extensive to enumerate. However, you'll be introduced to a minor cornucopia of techniques in the third version.
There are many terms used in the third (deconstructed) version of the scene to describe the screenwriting techniques that have been used. These terms aren't used anywhere else in the book. Therefore, the last portion of this chapter contains a glossary of these terms. Most of them are only defined here, and not in the glossary at the end of the book.
You'll find that the rewritten scene is longer than the original. Because I rewrote the scene for the purposes of demonstration, I crammed into it tons of techniques. In a real cinematic, you might want to use only a portion of the techniques that are used here.
The Student's Scene
The following is the original scene, written by one of my students.
INT. ADMIRAL COLBY'S INNER OFFICE - DAY Plush oak, immense. At his desk, ADMIRAL JASON COLBY calmly continues writing. VICE ADMIRAL MADISON DALTON stands. COLBY I'm not backing down, Maddy. DALTON Women do NOT belong in MY navy. COLBY Your job is to recruit 900 potential women officers in the next 90 days. DALTON We're in the middle of a war for God's sake. COLBY Admiral James Madison Dalton, are you contradicting a superior officer? DALTON No, Sir, but... COLBY But, nothing, Maddy. You know how to recruit and train better than anyone and we're in a hurry with this thing. Surely someone named for a president can handle training a few women. DALTON Give this to McNary. They can all fail together. COLBY I'm a patient man, but... (booming voice) Get the hell out of here and that's an order! DALTON This is an invasion.
This version of the scene conveys information, but neither the characters, their relationships, their dialogue, nor the scene itself are sufficiently compelling nor emotionally layered.
Consider the same scene after my rewrite:
INT. ADMIRAL COLBY'S INNER OFFICE - DAY Plush oak, immense. At his desk, ADMIRAL JASON COLBY calmly continues writing. VICE ADMIRAL MADISON DALTON stands. COLBY I'm not backing down, Maddy. DALTON Ed, what do you like most about the Navy? COLBY Like? He thinks for a few seconds. COLBY Gotta be the grub. Both he and Dalton smile. DALTON See? And I always thought those stripes drained a man of his humor. COLBY (smiles) Love to chat, but Bertrand's due here at three. (pulls out a cigarette) Match? DALTON (tosses him some matches from his pocket) Four years I've never seen you carry your own matches. COLBY (lighting up) Basis of our friendship. (reflecting, wistful) Four years. Seems like four hundred... DALTON War it...compresses time... (Colby nods at him) Ed, sticking women in blue... We're going to put the fear of God in the Krauts with our sailors wearing lipstick? For Christ's sake. COLBY (takes a drag; seriously considers) Got a point. DALTON Good. He turns to leave. COLBY But I'm still doing it. Dalton spins to face him, disbelieving. DALTON Exactly what do you have against the Navy... (derisively) "Sir?" The door opens, Colby's secretary LORETTA sticks her head in. She's 67 and frail-looking, but with the spirit of a 16-year-old. LORETTA (rapid-fire) Mimi, Eric's wife? she just had a baby girl, 10 pounds 2 ounces can you imagine? Jeez Louise -- (as the men stare) Oh right, the knocking thing. But I know how much you like her and Eric so I thought you'd want the skinny. A quick smile, her head disappears, and the door closes. COLBY Betty, she...likes coffee. A long pause. DALTON War is half honor, half horror. Put women in the middle -- COLBY Maddy -- DALTON -- they destroy the honor, and I sure as hell don't want to shove them into the horror. COLBY For once, Maddy, you've gotta pretend to be a bigger man than you are. Can't see the future? That's your problem -- DALTON Oh, I see it just fine. COLBY -- not the Navy's. COLBY They want in and we want them in. And the day will come when we need them in. Beat. DALTON When that fiasco occurred on the Wichita -- COLBY That was different -- DALTON -- because of your policy of expedited training, I took the fall. COLBY And I cleared you. DALTON Now you're setting me up again. You're setting us both up. COLBY Clean the wax out. You're dismissed, sailor. Now. Dalton is momentarily stung by the pejorative "sailor" comment, but then cuts into Colby with his eyes. He turns and leaves. Colby's face falls.
The following is the same scene, deconstructed to highlight the Emotioneering techniques I used. Please refer to the chapter's glossary for any words or terms that aren't self-explanatory.