Monday, February 23, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 60 - Cracking the Ending and Writing for A Sequel

I should have finished my first draft of the Roman-army spec this morning, but my sleep cycle was off. These past few weeks, I've been waking up at 7:30 (an hour before I used to) to get a writing session in before work. That way, if I find myself detoured by drinks after work, I don't have to worry about the day being a total loss (that happened more often than I'd like. Ask Zombie. Or Onyx). This morning, though, I woke up in the middle of the night and tossed and turned for two hours before falling asleep again at 7. Probably should have gotten up and started typing, but the brain just wasn't working.

Regardless, I'll wrap it tonight. Usually, I go into a script knowing how it will end. (John August recently had an interesting post about deciding which project to write. His advice: write the one with the best ending, as it's the one you've thought out the most.) There's something about knowing where you have to get in your spec that guides the writing process from the very beginning, even if you know little in between. I find it helps to know what that last image will be, even if I wind up changing it along the way.

This time, though, I had no idea. Well, OK, not "no" idea, but little. I knew what Act Three would be, and damn, was I stoked to write it. But I hit a wall - in outlining, in writing, in thinking about writing or outlining - when it came to the final scene(s). I just didn't know how it would all wrap itself up. There were a few loose ends I wanted to leave untied for interest's sake, basically a new beginning type of ending that leave the possibilities open for further exploration of the characters (read: I'm a shameless whore writing with sequels in mind; so sue me).

Finally, on Sunday, I cracked it. The ideas worked themselves together in an imperfect puzzle at first, like a Rubix cube that's all right but for two sides. Then, I let everything wiggle into place, and I just want to get home and finish the thing. I think it works. And, let me clarify here, I do not advocate writing purely for the sequel. It's a dangerous approach, especially for a new writer writing specs. I'm well aware of that. But I do believe that there is little harm in setting up a solid spec that has franchise potential for a sequel. That doesn't mean leaving everything ambiguous or unanswered. No, a script should be able to stand alone and leave the audience wanting more, while not keeping them so in the dark that they need another movie to figure it out. I answer what I need to; I just offer routes for more playtime with the characters and the world later if people want. I think it's reasonable if it can work.
First thing's first though: finish this draft.

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