First, you build a solid foundation…

foundation
And this is what could happen if it isn’t

As the daily churning-out of pages continues for my November writing project, I’ve found it extremely helpful that so much time was spent working on the outline.

Only through trial-and-error did I eventually discover that making sure the outline is rock-solid before starting on pages makes a huge difference.

Keep in mind that this is what works for me. You may have an entirely different approach, and that’s totally cool. Actually, I’m curious to hear about some of them. Feel free to discuss in the comments section.

And now, back to the subject at hand…

I see putting together the outline as a gradual building-up process. I start with establishing the main plot points. What are the pivotal moments in this story? Does each one properly fulfill its purpose in the overall context of the story?

Then I fill in the blanks between those plot points. Does it make sense how we get from, say, the inciting incident to the end of the first act? Does each scene do its job in moving the story and characters forward? Are you presenting information we need to know, or setting things up so as to adequately pay them off later? Does each scene appropriately follow the one before and lead into the one after it?

Something important to keep in mind during this part: eliminating unnecessary scenes. You may have a scene you really, really like, but may not be absolutely vital to the story. My recommendation is to either make it vital or get rid of it entirely. The last thing you want is to interrupt the flow of your story for a scene that really doesn’t have to be in there.

Once you’ve got all those blanks filled in, then you move on to expanding each scene – mostly just putting in the necessary elements that reinforce the purpose of the scene. Sometimes I’ll add in a snippet or two of dialogue.

Another very important detail about each scene: get to the point, then get out and into the next one. Once the scene fulfills its purpose, anything after that just slams on the brakes.

Hang in there. You’re almost done. The outline is pretty sturdy, but it could probably use a little more editing, fine-tuning and polishing. When you think it’s honest-and-truly ready, that’s when you make the big jump to pages.

This isn’t to say there won’t be more changes in store once you’re into pages mode, but by putting so much time and effort into your outline, you’ve eliminated a lot of the heavy lifting for when you get there.

How ’bout that?

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but didn’t. And I’m glad about that.

Because then I was working towards the end of Act One. Progress was slow, and I wasn’t happy. I needed more things to click. More to fall into place. I wanted to fill in that gap between page 17 and the end of the first act. And nothing was coming to mind.

So I stopped for the day to resume my role of dad, sans car. And in a great metropolitan city, that means public transit, which means more time getting from point A to point B. By the time we got home and had dinner, I was too wiped to write anything blog or outline-related.

Jump ahead to today. I take care of the running and laundry issues, then finally sit down with LUCY. The blank space where I left off yesterday stares back at me.

I know what I want to happen, but the words get jumbled up between my brain and fingers. I start to type. Okay. That works. Ooh, maybe not that. How about…this? Nice. And this. Hey, that’s cool. The scene/sequence that ends the first act takes up a lot of space, but it reads quickly, is chock-full of exciting adventure-type material and does a good job of showing what my hero is capable of and ends very neatly.

I might even go so far as to say I was practically giddy as I finished. Getting to the next point will definitely be a challenge, but as long as I stay focused and remember where this is supposed to go, it should work out fine.

I know it still needs a lot of work, and I wonder what the writing group will think of it this weekend, but I really think I’m off to a pretty good start.

And it was a lot of fun to write. I love that feeling.

No Movie of the Moment tonight because I’m at V’s hockey practice. But I did watch more of Season 1 of MODERN FAMILY during the laundry phase. Still hilarious.

-On a sad note, I learned today that my film teacher in high school passed away a few years ago. What a shame. He really was one of the first to open my eyes to the world of film beyond the malls and multiplexes.

Like just about every screenwriter, I dream of winning Best Original Screenplay. Part of that scenario would involve me thanking him for what an influence he was to me. Even though he’s apparently been gone for a few years, I’d still do it. He will be missed.

Whyizzit?

This is going to be a short one, since I’m in the studio and technically working on the air, so my attention is directed all over the place.

Early during this shift, I worked on my script stuff, which I usually do when I’m in here. Today it was an attempted rewrite of the LUCY plot points.

And once again, being in here makes my creative juices flow (which sounds more provocative than it should). I wanted to try and put a more solid story together, and that’s what seems to have happened.

The midpoint could be a little stronger, but it’s all coming together a little easier.

I wonder if not focusing entirely on the story and constantly being distracted by actually having to do my job is the key. Maybe my creativity is more effective when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

If I did this every day, this script would be done in no time.

And that would be cool.