The story behind the story

Figure out how it works before you start, or things could get messy
Step 1: Figure out how it all works

A slightly altered holiday work schedule has resulted in more hours on the air, which is always nice, but less time cranking out pages, which isn’t.

So I make the most of the handful of minutes between reports with the always-reliable working on an outline. This time – the monster script.

Despite knowing the general playing-out of the story, there was something that wasn’t clicking. Most of the items on my mental checklist had been checked off.

Most. Not all.  What was missing?

It took the constant back-and-forth between the opening sequences of the two previous outlines to make me realize what it was: I’d never fully established what happened before the story started.

Not knowing how everything came about was preventing me from moving forward. I had to create this world before I could write about it.

Think of the opening crawl in STAR WARS (“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, etc. etc…”). It establishes what we need to know. Without it, we’d be too busy trying to figure things out.

Using that as an example, I worked out my own version of the opening crawl. It won’t be in the actual script, but it’s a pretty solid foundation for setting things up – a better realization of how this world works, what the antagonist wants and how that can be accomplished, the challenges the protagonist faces, just to name a few.

The work on this is far from being over, but developing this really helped. Some important blanks have been filled in and I’ve got a firmer grasp of how the story works.

Time now to start the latest version of the outline and see how it goes.

-Regarding the recent release of this year’s Black List. There appear to be a handful that sound pretty good, but the rest don’t really do much for me.

No doubt they’re all extremely well-written (why else would they be on the list?), but a majority don’t have that “Read me!” vibe. It probably doesn’t help that the writers are not the ones providing the loglines. I suspect that would make quite a difference.

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