There’s a certain dark period in the suit when one is pushing their way through scene. Stumbling in the dark, looking for any sort of safety line to pull your self from the depths of the unknown. Safety lines of your story, your voice and your characters.
This is the point a story can be easily break, be watered down, or even take wrong turn. For this reason, it is important for one to stop and ask “what am I even doing?” I recognize leaving room for happy accidents, and I recognize their place in a film and edit, but “what we are trying to accomplish” should always be at the forefront of the editors mind.
We are to cut with an end in mind. We should know, even if the end changes, where it is we are cutting to. So I suggest, on a chalkboard, write out a Scene Title as well as a a Goal. Where it is we would like to audience to be at the end of this act, scene and moment? Where it is we would like the characters to be at the end? Where is it we would like the story to be? Answering these questions will help us push the film to the next stage of evolution; our characters to their next stage; and the audience to theirs.
If we keep these elements in mind and on board while we cut a scene, scenes will be focused and meaningful. And ideally, lead us away from making wandering scenes. They serve as a light amongst the darkness of not knowing where it is we are heading. They become foot and hand holds.