Disney’s Frozen as a Case Study in Scene

My toddler has her favorite parts of movies (cue Let It Go) and I find it fascinating how movies effortlessly transition- just like a story scene should.

I study these transitions to improve my writing. Next time you’re staring down the barrel of another Disney movie try this!

Go to the scene selection menu on your DVD and look where the movie scenes transition. Now as you hit play try to recognize the scene shifts. Do they use music, a shift in scenery, or a change in point of view? There are many ways to make the jump in time, space, or character, each have there own merit. Try to identify what makes the shift work.

Think about how the colors and environment affect the mood of the scene. For example, Elsa’s ice castle changes color as she sinks deeper into her mental frustrations. Think about the dialogue and how it leads into the next scene. For example, Kristof saying “take her to Hans” prompts the movie to shift inside the castle with Hans.

Think about how to add those elements into your writing.

Elements of scene:

Setting– The surroundings or environment of anything, including elements from all the senses (sixth sense, spidy sense, all of it folks).

Character– the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing (Dictionary.com). Who’s in the scene? Is the absence of a character important? What would happen if they were there? 

Action– something done or performed. What happens in the scene? Does it have a logical progression? If it doesn’t is it intentionally so? 

Exercise: Take a movie scene and write it. Try to incorporate the feeling of sound and visuals into your writing so you can “see” the scene on the page. The scene in Frozen where we meet Olaf under the frozen willow tree is a great place to start.

It’s not easy to do, so don’t get discouraged. This goes hand-in-hand with the principle of “Show don’t tell.” What movies do you watch over and over again? Have you studied them to improve your writing craft?

Happy Questing!

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