Monday, September 19, 2005

I said what now?

Long term attentive readers may have noticed that, while the deadline in my progress bar has now changed three times, the bar itself has shifted not a single pixel.

I don’t know what to tell you.

Research, reading scripts and doodling have all consumed a good deal of the time I had planned to set aside for outlining. And I think that’s fair enough. Especially the reading, as I have a real problem at the moment with breaking things down: if my man Tristan is going to escape from Dartmoor because the British military are using conscientious objectors as guinea pigs in a project to create merciless killers, at what point should he make his break?

In my original plan, all I knew was that a C.O. breaks out, makes friends with a young girl whose brother is out in the trenches, and has to prove to her that, despite abhorring violence, he is no coward.

That was the impetus. I wasn’t even going to show the breakout; he’d start off on the run and that would be that. But then when I started asking why he felt the need to break out; how he was going to prove himself; and who, if anyone, was after him I realised I’d lost control.

Answers, answers, answers; first just enough for a teaser, then maybe the first two acts, then with mounting horror I understood it was going to be the end of the episode before he made it to freedom! I’d devised an entire episode of material to take place before what would have been the start of my pilot and knew I had to put the brakes on it.

Because if I do things this way, then I have to come up with something for poor little Evey to be doing while she’s not yet discovering Tristan pinching her mum’s chickens because he hasn’t even escaped yet. This involves building up Evey’s world - introducing a recruitment fair, an unrequited crush and a game of cricket. I now have two distinct stories to tell in two distinct locations, with two casts of characters who are never going to interact, many of whom, in fact, never to be seen again in Episode Two or beyond. While a part of me knows this is a Good Thing - that from nothing I now have a lot more - I need to keep it under control, otherwise Episode One is going to be spectacularly wasteful. And worst of all, I don’t know, because they both have equally divided my attention, who the focus of this piece is anymore, Tristan or Evey.

So I need to read. I need to see how other writers have dealt with the problems of prologue, and to determine if what I’ve described here is prologue or the real beginning of my story, which I’ll just have to get used to being a little bit bigger than I expected it to be.

As soon as I’ve taken advice and made some decisions, expect that bar to increase most hastily.

Category: Writing

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