Monday, January 18, 2010

The Writing Week (Vol. 3) part 107 - Writing in Chunks

For the past week and change, I've been struggling with the second half of Act Two. Yes, my friends, it looks like the first League villain that's squared off against me this year is the Dreaded Act Two. 

Just under a week ago at this point, I turned in a revised (though incomplete) draft of the second half of Act Two for my post-Apocalyptic spec to my producer. It was an odd time to submit to her, since I knew that the pages weren't quite working. On the other hand, I also knew I was stuck. They weren't working, but I needed a kick to help me get them rolling. Hence, what we called a "vomit" draft. 
In short, the pages sort of sucked. Luckily, Gretchen (my producer) and I have a solid enough relationship that I could turn in what I knew to be flawed pages. There were a couple key lines that just weren't strong enough yet to bring about a twist we were hoping to work into the script. To be honest, they're still not there, but by submitting the pages, at least I gave us a framework to try and make them work in. 

Pages or not, this is definitely not a time to sit idly by and hope for the epiphany that will clear things up. Though I'm not writing on any official deadline, I want to move as quickly as possible in order to stay immediately relevant. Because of that, I worked on Act Three while stuck on Act Two. Normally, I wouldn't advocate an approach like this - certainly not on a first draft. However, I know what the end of Act Two and this damn twist I'm trying to iron out lead to. I know what has to happen in Act Three. And I know what has to come before all that, too. So, in a slightly nontraditional approach (for me), I'm attacking the re-writes as a series of chunks. Act One is a chunk, in my mind. The next ten pages are another chunk. The remaining pages from Act Two are divided into two more chunks. Finally, Act Three is also two chunks. I guess you could also use the term "sequence" in place of chunk, but it's not necessarily that cut and dry.

Whatever terminology you subscribe to, the fact stands - by breaking up what I know I have to do this way, I'm order to make progress in one place while stuck in another. It's sort of a time saving technique. More than that, by smoothing out where my characters have to get to, perhaps I'll better be able to understand how they get there. At any rate, I'm sticking with this method until I work out the end of Act Two kinks.