You do want their attention, right? Because you have something to say. So make a scene.
Why make a scene?
Because scenes grab our attention like nothing else.
Remember the wisdom of the child: Make a scene when you really want everyone’s attention.
This quote, from Jerome Stern’s excellent book on writing Making Shapely Fiction gets to the heart of the concept of scene-setting.
You are a storyteller. In storytelling, whether in a novel, the theater, a movie or when you want someone at work or at home to pay attention, a scene is the setting in which the action takes place. If the scene is well-set, the story will be compelling.
If you’ve seen The Fundamentals of Caring, you know that most of the movie takes place in a van, in which the care-giver, played by Paul Rudd, is charged with caring for a younger man in a wheelchair, played by Alex Huff. Watch the famous “Bite of the James” scene, below, (it’s only 40 seconds long)and then come right back for the takeaway.
Just two questions.
Just two questions will create a compelling scene.
- What’s going on here?
- What happens next?
Even if you’ve never seen this movie before, this short scene from the movie is captivating. When the boy is asked if he’s ever had a Slim Jim, he replies, “What do you think?” And with those four words, we know he hasn’t. Why not? You’re curious, right? What’s going on here? And then Paul Rudd’s character sticks the meat stick in the boy’s face and we’re thinking: “What’s going to happen?”
Make a scene.
Don’t be afraid to make a scene. Give it a try. Watch the clip again, think about those two questions, and then get ready to speak up once you’ve got the attention of your audience.
You have something important to say. Make a scene to get their attention.
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