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Do you write active scene descriptions? Nov 16

Make your objects move!

There’s a reason that scene description is also known as “action lines.” It’s important that your descriptions contain the feeling of movement, even when none actually exists.

Here’s an example of a weak way to describe objects at a location (i.e. bad writing):


Stacks of dusty boxes are everywhere.  There’s a deer head on the wall.

Blech. How can we make that better? Let’s make the objects come alive with a couple of simple changes.


Stacks of dusty boxes pack the room.  A deer head stares from the wall.

Not fantastic writing, but you get the idea. Giving your objects an action (even though they’re not moving) brings your scene description to life.

There was no character in this scene. But if there was, one of the active ways to introduce objects in a scene is to have your character(s) interact with them.

For example:


Steve pushes through stacks of dusty boxes. A deer head stares at him from the wall.

And don’t forget to use the active forms of your verbs whenever possible.

Active Scene Description

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Category: Scenes, Writing
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2 Responses
  1. Scott says:

    Awesome tip. Now I’m going to have to work a deer head into all my scripts (scenes?).

    I would also add that the mood or tone of the scene would dictate *how* our character would interact with the objects at the location.

  2. Trevor Mayes says:

    Hey Scott — yes, don’t all great scripts feature at least one deer head? 🙂

    Mood and tone will definitely determine which verbs you utilize.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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