Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taking a Step Back

I reached a point this week in the Ciudad script where I felt I needed to pause and think about the overall structure a bit more. As is always the case, I spend a lot of time thinking about the first act- planning it, setting up the cool moments, etc. It's not that I neglect the rest of the story in the outline stage, but I don't seem to have the brilliant, chess master brain to nail all the detail ten steps down the line.

So, I'm taking a break from the regular Ciudad scripting, and going back into outline mode. This time, though, I'll be working on a tighter outline than I have done for this book so far. I want to work out a page-by-page breakdown, outlining the entire book. That is daunting, but it'll really pay off if I can get it done.

Just so you know exactly what I'm talking about, one page of this new, tighter outline might look something like this:

Tyler wakes, finds Eva against him in her sleep. He's uncomfortable with the closeness. He gets up, goes to bathroom, studies his wounds (and his face) in the mirror.

You can see how having that done for the entire book would be a big load off. The problem is that, to do a page-by-page outline that tight, I really have to nail the characters and their motivations for the whole book now. I need to know how Tyler is going to react a situation in the third act, knowing how he feels about Eva at that point in the story. If I don't have all that nailed, the tight outline becomes nothing more than an exercise in plot, and the characters become puppets to that plot.

So, that's my life as a writer this week. Challenging, but it beats real work.


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