Welcome to Sceneplay!
Get Ready to Change the Way You Write Scenes
Dear Writers and Producers:
A few years ago I was a director of an experimental group at a major university. We developed innovative methods for creating scenes from the ground up. What I learned there fundamentally changed the way I thought about scripts and story. As I put into practice the ideas that you’ll discover here, the results were astonishing and immediate.
Hi, I’m Lisa Phelps Dawes and I’m genuinely excited to share what I’ve learned with you.
Sceneplay really got its start when my husband Tim and I were directing improvisational works. We had to create dramatic, crisp scenes from scratch. Fortunately, we were able to attract amazing actors. So in an environment of good-natured collaboration and risk-filled experimentation we turned out working scene after working scene.
But, as a screenwriter, I noticed something startling. We started building scenes fast. And they got better even faster. Much faster than I could write or improve any scene while working alone at my computer. What was going on? Sure, the actors were quicker at generating new material than I was, but that didn’t seem to be the whole story. The relationship was definitely symbiotic. We each contributed something that really made the scenes click.
I discovered that I knew something as a director that I obviously wasn’t bringing to my writing. Working with live actors I was able to see and manipulate all of the elements of the scene until they lined up. When they did, we produced action and dialogue that was not only powerful, but unexpected as well. The actors made everything immediate and real almost without effort.
Over time we developed a methodology for consistently making scenes compelling. And we discovered that at the core was a clear and deep understanding of conflict that writers weren’t being taught. Now in our sessions, producers and writers happily report the astounding benefits they get such as:
- Scenes that work three times harder then when they brought them in
- Adjustments to a scene that not only improves that scene but the entire story
- The realization that their story would be stronger in a completely different genre
- Dialogue that was dull and on-the-nose that becomes witty and incisive
- Weak characters that struggle with unclear motivations suddenly come into sharp relief and act as major drivers in the story
Thanks to the gifted writers and actors we’ve been privileged to work with, today I feel confident saying we can help you create not just better scenes, but better stories.
To get started now please sign up for our electronic newsletter, SceneZine. It’s full of great real world examples from the trenches of scene writing. Or download our special report on Writing Killer Scenes.
Thanks for visiting. Please let us know if you have any specific feedback that will make this site better and more useable for you. And remember to check back often. We’re constantly adding new tools and information.
But above all, keep writing!
Lisa Phelps Dawes
About Lisa Phelps Dawes
Lisa Phelps Dawes is a three time Emmy® award-winning writer/director with 17 years of experience in commercial production, screenwriting and theater. As President and Founder of Sceneplay, Lisa creates, customizes and facilitates various Sceneplay sessions. Her clients include independent producers and screenwriters, University of Washington Extension, The Film School, and Microsoft.
Sceneplay, a division of Interplay, Inc.