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Let's say you are writing a military sci-fi comic book and you have a mission briefing, how do you shorten it to the maximum amount possible while avoiding cliches? I've been thinking about it and I can't think of a way of ending a scene without using a cliche. Otherwise, it looks too abrupt. How abrupt can the scene ending be and how do you transition effectively out and into a mission briefing scene? This can also apply to movies.

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    Would you mind sharing a bit of this particular scene with some context involved? Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 2:20
  • Your question is on the line of being off-topic. It sounds like you're asking for help writing a particular scene. writing.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic
    – levininja
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 2:34

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The Scene is Over when the Conflict is Over

If it's just a briefing - someone gets up and tells everyone what's going to happen - it's a weak scene by definition. There's no conflict, so there's nothing to keep the reader engaged. Skip the scene.

Let's say there is conflict: Perhaps a key ally isn't willing to commit their forces until they've been convinced that the plan is likely to succeed. The conflict is over when the ally has made their decision. Whether they are participating in the attack, or leaving the alliance, the scene is over when they've made up their mind.

You can Always add Conflict

If you think you really need the briefing, you can have a team member propose a counter-plan. They point out some perceived weakness in the original idea, and recommend a new course of action. The scene is over when everyone is (however grudgingly) on board with the final plan.

This is an opportunity for character development if done right. But again, if the original scene doesn't have any source of conflict, then it sounds like it wasn't an essential scene, and you might consider skipping it.

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Make The Scene Fun

It's not about the length of the scene. It's about how it actually plays out. If the character is strapped to a chair and forced to listen to page after page of boring exposition that both they and the audience will probably forget later, what's the point? Where's the fun in that?

To make the scene stand out, you have to have interesting interactions before, during, and after the briefing to make it more memorable.

Imagine you have to go to a briefing, but to get to it you have to swim through a maze of underwater mines and a killer shark with a laser on its head. Now picture that the second you get to the briefing, your boss is wearing a clown suit because he lost a bet.

Finally, imagine that you get teleported out of that meeting and straight into the villain's lair. You narrowly avoid the trap, but the tech guy decided to recalibrate the teleport at the last minute, and it lands you straight in the trap by mistake.

Does that sound amazing? Well, guess what those all happened in the same show, albeit in different episodes and at different times in a little cartoon called Phineas and Ferb. All these crazy interactions are how Agent P feels every time he meets his wacky boss, Major Monogram. The Major is a really funny character, and he justifies his screentime by always making his briefings oh so funny.

I'm not sure if you've watched that show, but if you haven't I suggest giving it a watch.

Here's my advice in a nutshell

1-Make the meeting itself entertaining. Throw in some fun character moments and dialogue to spice the exposition.

2-Mess with the formula. You expect the smart person to say. "Okay, here's the plan." What if they say. "Yeah, so, I have no clue what to do. We're all gonna die. Here is a chart showing how thoroughly screwed we are."

3-Surprise your audience and your characters. Example: Your character finishes the briefing and someone says, "So, when are we going into battle?" and the briefer goes "What? We're already on the battlefield." Then the walls pull away and it turns out they are on an active warzone.

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Just skip the mission briefing altogether. Start as close to the action as possible. Let the reader start off not knowing what's going on--this can actually give an air of mystery--and gradually reveal bit by bit as the story goes along, particularly as certain details become relevant, then at that time have a character say something referencing the mission briefing or whatever.

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    Certainly a lot of briefings are dull and not really worth presenting in full (unless you want to make a feature of it being repetitious like the cop saying "Let's be careful out there" every episode). Related to this, you can only show a small part of the briefing. You can even segue directly from someone saying "Right, everyone, the plan is -" to the mission underway.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 13:08

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