But arguing about how to pronounce "tomato" does not a good scene make unless there is action. Ever sit through a play heavy on exposition? It's murder. Only when something happens will we perk up again.
Action derives from objectives. Your main character must want or need something. The more dire the consequences, the higher the stakes.Stakes can be understood through the question, “What is at stake for my character in this scene?”
He must try everything within his power to achieve his objective.
What do the characters want from each other? Approval. What happens if they don't get it in this scene? Their worst fears about themselves will be confirmed.
With this foundation, the writer can play with the audience to increase the stakes and keep tension up. Alternate between making the audience think the characters will get what they want and making them think the characters won't get what they want, and you ratchet the tension with each value change.
Putting it together:
Then we talked about subtext, which deserves it's own blog. Stay tuned.
It was fun talking about this stuff with these seasoned playwrights, as well as the young playwrights in the audience from SPARC's New Voices for the Theatre program. You should have been there. And if you were, thanks for coming!