I want to share some advice I got on writing because its so good I don’t want to keep it to myself:
‘what is the core action of this scene? i.e. what is it that changes, significantly for the characters in it, such that they leave the scene having to do something new in their life’. And then commit to that, commit to the reality of that. Cut stuff that is extraneous to it; focus the scene ruthlessly on it. Explore how they would react. If they wouldn’t react emotionally, it’s probably not good enough as an action. Learn about your characters by putting them in these situations.
I know we know this, we do know this. However, I have to say it struck me at the right time on the play I am currently writing. It is that salient reminder to come back to ‘core action’ – you can get carried away with the riffing but it has to be about core action. I had this in a class with Greg Mosse as well – the anchor of a scene is dramatic action and dramatic action must provoke change. Without change, you do not have a story. Without a story you don’t have a reason to lean forward in your seat.